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Notes: Bagwell back in uniform?

Notes: Bagwell back in uniform?

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ANAHEIM -- As long as Craig Biggio doesn't record his 3,000th hit on Independence Day, Jeff Bagwell plans to be in attendance when his longtime teammate and friend reaches the big milestone.

Bagwell has vacation plans for July 4, but other than that, consider the former first baseman on official Biggio watch.

It's likely that Biggio will get the hit at home, when the team returns to Houston late next week to begin an extensive 11-game homestand. But when Biggio gets within five or so of the magic number, Bagwell may be inclined to hop a last-minute flight to attend the final games of this road trip in person. Biggio entered Wednesday's game eight away from 3,000.

Bagwell also casually toyed with the idea of asking the Commissioner's Office if he could be in uniform, in the dugout, for the big moment. Of course, that may mean Bagwell would have to be in uniform for several games, in case Biggio goes hitless for a couple of games.

"I thought about that, whether or not I'd want to be in uniform again and be down there," Bagwell said. "Worse comes to worst, I'll hang out in the clubhouse before he gets it and just pop into the dugout when he gets back in.

"I still don't know if I want to be in uniform. I probably would have to get special permission to do that anyway. I don't know if that's what I want to do. But it would be something I would entertain. I would consider it."

Indeed, Bagwell would have to get permission, and chances are he would not gain approval. Only in September, when rosters expand, are clubs allowed to add to their coaching staff. For the first five months of the regular season, only a certain number of coaches can be in the dugout, and if Bagwell were to be in uniform, it's likely he'd have to replace a current coach.

Still, if Bagwell's serious about this, it's worth looking into.

"Based on the rules, it's not something [Major League Baseball] would permit, but could there be a one-day exception?" general manager Tim Purpura said. "Possibly, given the enormity of the occasion. It would have to be one-time exception. There's no precedent for it."

Lidge hopeful: Although Brad Lidge is eligible to come off the disabled list on June 30, it's likely it will take much more time for him to heal from the left oblique strain in his left side that has been hampering the closer for a week.

Oblique strains take awhile to heal, mainly because the only way to remedy the injury is to rest it. The downtime can affect a pitcher's arm strength, and the time needed to get that strength back is often why the recovery period takes so long.

Still, Lidge is hopeful that he'll be able to return to the mound in a reasonable amount of time.

"I'm optimistic that it's going to get better quick," he said. "It definitely feels better day to day when I'm not doing anything on it. It's not like it was one sudden pop. When that happens, it can take a lot longer. The severity of the damage can be bad. This seems to be more of a gradual one. I think that works in my favor."

Lidge still will be able to work out while he's on the DL, as long as he eliminates the "twisty" exercises that could aggravate the strain.

"All of my conditioning I can do now, in terms of running, bike, things like that," he said. "It's just rotational exercises I have to stay away from. I can do situps going forward and backward, and I can run."

A second lefty: After Lidge was placed the disabled list Tuesday, the Astros called up left-hander Stephen Randolph to take the closer's spot on the 25-man roster.

Garner plans to use Randolph like he's been using Dave Borkowski for much of the season -- in the middle innings, when the team is behind.

"I might use him as a situational guy, but on balance, I will use him more as an inning or more guy," Garner said.

Borkowski and Rick White can count on being used in the later innings, now that setup man Dan Wheeler has moved to the closer's role, with Chad Qualls assuming most of the setup duties.

Change of plans: Garner originally planned to start Chris Burke at second base and make Biggio the designated hitter on Wednesday, but that changed after learning Mark Loretta was experiencing back stiffness.

Loretta, who was slated to play short, instead served as the DH, while Biggio played second and Eric Bruntlett played short.

"It's not severe," Garner said. "Hopefully this will solve the issue and keep his bat going."

Detour: Upon the Astros' arrival to Arlington early Thursday morning, pitching coach Dave Wallace planned to drive to Round Rock to watch right-hander Chan Ho Park pitch against Memphis.

Wallace and Park worked together when they were in the Dodgers' organization, and that relationship was one of the reasons why Purpura signed the veteran starter to a Minor League contract after the Mets released him.

Park allowed five runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts in his first start for the Express.

Coming up: The Astros will land in Arlington around 5 a.m. CT on Thursday morning after flying through the night following Wednesday night's game in Anaheim. After a day off, the Astros will open a three-game set with the Rangers on Friday, beginning at 7:35 p.m. CT. Right-hander Woody Williams (3-9, 5.50 ERA) will face Texas right-hander Kevin Millwood (3-6, 7.62).

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

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