Notes: Garner prepared to walk Bonds

Notes: Garner prepared to walk Bonds

HOUSTON -- It's been five years since Barry Bonds tied Mark McGwire's single-season home run mark at the Astros' downtown ballpark, now named Minute Maid Park. The crowd noise back then ranged from thunderous boos -- for Houston manager Larry Dierker, who was directing the Astros pitchers when they walked Bonds eight times during the series -- and loud ovations -- for Bonds, who took two curtain calls when he tied the record.

This time around, as Bonds attempts to pass Babe Ruth for second on the all-time home run list, the reception is likely to be different. As to how the Astros are going to pitch to Bonds, manager Phil Garner will decide based on the situation.

"We just want to win the game," Garner said. "I don't care about his personal goals."

Does he think they'll walk Bonds more than pitch to him?

"Maybe," Garner said. "I don't know. If we're ahead 10-2, I would doubt we will."

Garner is aware of what took place here in 2001, when Dierker felt the wrath of the fans, while Bonds was showered with nothing but adoration.

Just as was the case with Dierker, the fans' wishes will not come into play when Garner makes his decisions during the upcoming Giants series.

"I know they booed before," Garner said. "I understand that. But I also know they cheer pretty hard when you're in the World Series. We'll play to win the ballgames."

Laughing, Garner recalled the letters he received after Game 5 of the NLCS last year, blasting him for not ordering Brad Lidge to intentionally walking Albert Pujols.

"I want to take it as very hypocritical of our fans if they should boo if we walk Bonds," Garner chuckled.

Same lineup: Despite Mike Lamb's good numbers over the last two games, he was not in the lineup against left-hander Jeff Francis on Sunday.

Garner stuck with his normal lineup, which includes No. 5 hitter Preston Wilson and No. 6 hitter Jason Lane. Lance Berkman, who missed Saturday's game with a strained left hamstring, was also in the lineup, hitting in his usual No. 3 spot.

From the seventh inning Friday to the sixth inning Saturday, Lamb reached base in five consecutive plate appearances. Two of his three hits Saturday were doubles.

"When he hits the ball to right-center, left-center, you know he's swinging the bat well," Garner said.

Was it tempting to start him Sunday?

"Yes," Garner said. "I don't mind him facing left-handers, but some of these other guys have to get going, too. And we've played pretty well at home with this lineup."

Pink bats: In addition to Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio and Willy Taveras using pink bats in honor of Mother's Day on Sunday, another Astro jumped on the bandwagon at the last minute: Brad Ausmus.

Ausmus used Chris Burke's pink bat in his first plate appearance. Burke, who is on the disabled list, wasn't able to use his Louisville Slugger-issued bat so he asked his teammate to use it in his place.

"I didn't love the bat, but he asked me to do it for him," Ausmus said. "It was teammate to teammate courtesy. He's on the DL and can't use it -- I had to help him out."

On the unique pink hue, Ausmus commented, "I think it brings out my eyes."

Minor League honors: The Astros recently named their Minor League players of the month for April. The awards are chosen every month by the field staff of each team.

Triple-A Round Rock:
Pitcher of the Month:
Right-hander Chris Sampson
Sampson was 3-1 with a 2.17 ERA in April, allowing seven earned runs over 29 innings. He walked three and struck out 18.

Offensive Player of the Month:
IF Brooks Conrad
Conrad hit .241, recording 21 hits, five doubles, two triples, four homers and 17 RBIs.

Defensive Player of the Month:
IF Jesse Garcia
The shortstop paced the Round Rock defense with 16 putouts and helped turn seven double plays in 18 games played.

Double-A Corpus Christi:
Pitcher of the Month:
Right-hander Matt Albers
Albers was 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA. He allowed six earned runs over 32 innings, walking 10 and striking out 25.

Offensive Player of the Month:
C J.R. House
House hit .361, knocking 35 hits, including nine doubles, three homers and 17 RBIs.

Defensive Player of the Month:
OF Hunter Pence
The Texas native played all three outfield positions for the Hooks and recorded 14 putouts and three assists along the way.

Class A Salem:
Pitcher of the Month:
Right-hander Chad Reineke
Reineke was 3-1 with a 1.77 ERA. He allowed seven earned runs over 35 2/3 innings with 11 walks and 37 strikeouts.

Offensive Player of the Month:
IF Neil Sellers
Sellers hit .313 with 25 hits, including 11 doubles and 18 RBIs.

Defensive Player of the Month:
IF Edwin Maysonet
Through the first 20 games of the championship season, the shortstop contributed 23 putouts and helped turn nine double plays.

Class A Lexington:
Pitcher of the Month:
Right-hander Levi Romero
Romero was 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA. He allowed six earned runs over 28 2/3 innings with six walks and 31 strikeouts.

Offensive Player of the Month:
IF Ole Sheldon
Sheldon hit .409 with 27 hits, including six doubles and two home runs. He recorded 10 RBIs.

Defensive Player of the Month:
C J.R. Towles
The 22 year-old catcher played an errorless month on his way to helping manage the Lexington pitching staff.

Coming up: The Astros begin a three-game set with the San Francisco Giants on Monday, beginning at 7:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander Taylor Buchholz (2-2, 3.82 ERA) will face Giants righty Brad Hennessey (2-1, 3.08 ERA).

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