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Players grateful for time with Berry

Players grateful for time with Berry

HOUSTON -- Sean Berry was the only hitting coach right fielder Hunter Pence has had his entire career, and Pence was sad to see Berry relieved from his duties Sunday.

"He's worked so hard for us," Pence said. "You can't help but put some of the burden on your own shoulders."

Pence said Berry worked with him throughout the Minor Leagues and said he has made an impact on his career.

"He did everything he could," Pence said. "He bent over backwards for us. I've been grateful for the time I had with him."

First baseman Lance Berkman was the first to admit he hasn't hit up to his ability this season with a .252 average and just 12 home runs entering Sunday. Berkman also raved about Berry's work ethic and said he will be missed.

"When things aren't going well with the players, you have to shake something up and the most expendable pieces are the coaching staff," Berkman said. "The team's offensive struggles in no way are a reflection of him as a hitting coach. We just didn't hit well. He just took the fall for us and it's unfortunate."

Berkman added that the only silver lining out of losing Berry is the chance to work with new hitting coach Jeff Bagwell, who Berkman played with for seven seasons as a part of the famous "Killer B's."

"I think that Jeff has always been one of my mentors in the game," Berkman said. "I'm excited that he's going to be around more. I told him yesterday, he helps me more than anybody just from the things he told me when we played together."

Astros center fielder Michael Bourn knows Bagwell as a fan favorite and is well versed on the many records Bagwell holds with the Astros.

"He's a legend here," Bourn said. "He did a lot of damage here. I'm pretty sure he has some pointers here he can point out to us."

Pence also said he's looking forward to working with the Astros' new hitting coach.

"He has a great amount of knowledge," Pence said. "Obviously, with the credentials he has and how well he's played, he definitely understands hitting."

Steve Gartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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