HOUSTON -- A familiar face -- and mustache -- was on the field at Minute Maid Park prior to Friday's game against the A's. Former Astros manager Phil Garner, who works as a special assistant with Oakland, took in batting practice from the field and caught up with the few players and team employees left from his time in Houston.
Garner is close friends with A's manager Bob Melvin and assists him, as well as general manager Billy Beane, when asked.
"The main part of it is Spring Training, and during the season I can go join the club pretty much any time that I want to or any time Bob Melvin or Billy Beane ask me to," he said. "Occasionally, there's other responsibilities in there. I'll fulfill those, like last year when it became obvious we were going to be in the hunt, and I advanced the Rangers a couple of weeks and I enjoyed that."
Garner worked closely with outfielder Chris Carter prior to his trade to the Astros, and thinks the world of the slugger. Carter, pitcher Brad Peacock and catcher Max Stassi were acquired from Oakland in exchange for shortstop Jed Lowrie and pitcher Fernando Rodriguez in February.
"All three kids [Houston received] I really like," Garner said. "I think you're really going to like Carter. He's a great kid."
Garner lives in the Houston area and is still reminded about the team's glory years, with Garner leading them to the World Series in 2005.
"I'm walking around town and people will bring it up," he said. "It's nice to be remembered."