If you've been to Minute Maid Park recently, you've probably noticed maintenance crews removing Jeff Bagwell's retired jersey No. 5 from the rafters.
It might remind people of that line from the movie Short Circuit: "Number Five ALIVE !"
No, Bagwell hasn't been implicated in the steroids scandal. No, he hasn't been caught betting on baseball or cheering for the Texas Rangers. And no, ex-wife Shaune Bagwell isn't writing a tell-all book about their brief marriage.
Bagwell's venerable No. 5 is being taken from the rafters because it's being temporarily un-retired.
Bagwell, who in the 1990s and 2000s was the Astros' star first baseman known for his painful squatting-on-a-toilet-bowl batting stance, along with his hitting and defensive skills, will fill in the gap left by Berkman.
Though he will turn 42 on May 27 and hasn't played baseball since 2005, Bags feels he can readily step back into the game. He insists his shoulder feels great and he's ready to play again.
"My rotator cuff and arthritic shoulder have had four years of rest, so I think I'll be fine," Bagwell said. "In fact, my right arm feels so strong I may even fill in as a relief pitcher on an emergency basis."
Initially, Drayton McLane and Ed Mills intend for Bagwell's comeback to be temporary, but the native New Englander says he's willing to stay if needed—or if the 34-year-old Berkman continues to falter.
It is unclear if Bagwell will still be eligible for Hall of Fame induction in 2011 with this brief comeback. What is clear is that he'll try to add to his .297 career batting average, 449 home runs, 1,529 runs batted in, and 2,314 hits.
"I also have 488 career doubles and want 12 more in the worst way," Bagwell said.
Richard Zowie blogs about baseball's greatest team, the Houston Astros, at Bleacher Report. Post a comment below or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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