Notes: Biggio notches hit No. 2,800

Notes: Biggio notches hit No. 2,800

HOUSTON -- Craig Biggio logged hit No. 2,800 in his first at-bat on Saturday night, singling in the opening frame to become the 43rd player to reach that particular plateau.

Biggio needs 12 hits to catch George Sisler on the all-time hits list, but it's the magic number of 3,000 that the 19-year veteran has on his radar screen. Assuming Biggio finishes the season with around 165 hits -- his average over the last five seasons -- he should reach the 3,000-hit milestone in May of 2007.

Reliever Russ Springer has other ideas, however.

"You need to catch a little Ichiro heat, and you'll get your 3,000th this year," he said to Biggio prior to Sunday's game with the Nationals. "Stop taking walks. Stop getting hit. Get 700 at-bats."

Springer was referring to Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, who has averaged 230 hits over his five years in the big leagues. He recorded an astonishing 262 hits just two years ago.

In their 45-year history, the Astros have had exactly one hitter reach 200 hits in a single season -- Biggio, who recorded 210 hits in 1998. Realistically, it's unlikely Springer's challenge to Biggio will come to fruition.


"If we can start running to third base after a hit, change the diamond around," Biggio theorized, "That's 30 hits a year right there."

On a more serious note, Biggio admitted reaching the nice, even number of 2,800 was special.

"It means a lot," he said. "Having your name associated with some of the greatest players to ever play the game -- that's something that means more to me than just the number. It's very humbling."

"And that means you've got 2,798 more hits than me," Springer said.

Hernandez examined: Carlos Hernandez was in Houston on Sunday to be examined by team medical director Dr. David Lintner, but general manager Tim Purpura expects more definitive answers to arrive after the left-hander has an MRI exam on his left shoulder on Monday.

"We've got a problem with his shoulder, and we don't know to what extent it is right now," Purpura said.

Hernandez was scratched from his start for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday because of soreness in his shoulder. The Astros fear it could be a labrum tear, an injury to the cartilage that covers the top part of the shoulder socket, the same injury that began his troubles nearly four years ago.

"He's got a long history [with labrum tears], Purpura said. "We'll see what Dr. Lintner says tomorrow, get the results from the MRI and go from there."

Momentum changer: The Astros aren't heralded as a terrific defensive club, but several plays during their win over the Nationals on Sunday should open some eyes in that department.

Take, for example, the second inning. Ryan Zimmerman sent a hard grounder toward Andy Pettitte, who threw to Lance Berkman for the first out. Berkman, noticing Alfonso Soriano had inched a little too far off third base, fired to Morgan Ensberg, who tagged the Nationals outfielder to complete the inning-ending double play.

The Nationals didn't score again until the sixth frame.

"I didn't think it was going to be a double play," Pettitte said. "Lance was heads-up there. Actually, when [Zimmerman] swung, and I saw where the ball was going and how good of a swinging bunt it was, I thought Sori would probably try to go.

"It was a decent play on my part to be able to throw that guy out -- it was right down the line -- and Lance made a great throw back over there to third. That was nice. That was a great play."

Battery mates: Pleased with the outcome of their first game together, manager Phil Garner plans to pair catcher Eric Munson and Wandy Rodriguez during Monday's finale with the Nationals.

"I'd like to give Brad [Ausmus] a day [off per week] and sometimes two," Garner said. "I think clearly [Munson's] getting more comfortable the more he catches the guys. They're getting more comfortable with him, too."

Although it's likely Ausmus will catch Brad Lidge during close games, regardless of who starts, Garner appears to have confidence that Munson can handle the hard-throwing relievers when a game is on the line.

"I put [Ausmus] in last time, only because he's been catching for [Lidge] a couple of years," Garner said. "There will be times when I won't do that."

Odds and ends: Including Sunday, the Astros have scored six runs in four consecutive games. They did that once last year -- July 18-20 in Pittsburgh, in a four-game sweep that included a doubleheader at PNC Park. ... Pettitte's win on Sunday over the Nationals improved his all-time record in day games to 58-29. ... Chris Burke hit is first regular-season, pinch-hit homer on Sunday, but it wasn't the first pinch-hit homer of his career. He went deep during pinch-hit duty at the end of Game 1 of the NLCS in St. Louis last year.

Coming up: The extended series with the Nationals concludes on Monday at 1:05 p.m. CT. Rodriguez (1-0, 5.40 ERA) will face Washington right-hander John Patterson (0-0, 9.00 ERA). The Astros will begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday, starting with three in San Francisco and concluding with three in Arizona.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.