Notes: Biggio gets a breather
Milestone hit may be destined for Minute Maid Park
MILWAUKEE -- Craig Biggio is four hits away from reaching 3,000 for his career, but unless he goes 4-for-4 on Tuesday, it looks like he'll get that hit at home.Biggio did not play on Monday in the opener at Miller Park in Milwaukee, and he's not going to play on Wednesday, either. That leaves Tuesday as the only game he'll start during the Astros' three-game set with the Brewers. The official reasoning for Biggio's absence from Monday's lineup: the team arrived to Milwaukee just before the sun came up on Monday morning after flying all night following the three-hour, 42-minute, 10-inning game in Arlington on Sunday. Better to rest the 41-year-old Biggio after such a long night so he'll be ready to play Tuesday. But there is also the element of logging his 3,000th hit at Minute Maid Park, something everyone -- Biggio, the club and the fans -- want. Oh, and there's one more person to add to that list as well -- Jeff Bagwell. The former first baseman has been keeping tabs on Biggio's run to 3,000 and plans to be in attendance when his longtime teammate reaches the milestone. He's already called Biggio a few times during this road trip. "He said, 'Good God, don't be afraid to take a pitch,'" Biggio said. "I said, 'Oh, yeah, you must have seen that last Anaheim game.'" Bagwell apparently had more than just 3,000 hits on his mind when he made his most recent call to Biggio. Bagwell, who's currently on a golfing trip in Colorado, just scored his very first hole-in-one. And now Biggio has to pay up -- $499.99. They've had a standing bet that goes back 10-15 years. Back in the day, five teammates -- Biggio, Bagwell, Darryl Kile, Ken Caminiti and Mike Hampton -- made a pact. The first person who gets a hole in one collects $499.99 from the rest of the group. Now Bagwell wants Biggio to pay up, especially since his little buddy is making him cut his vacation short. "He said the only reason he's going to ask me for the money is because it's going to cost him another two thousand dollars to get an airline ticket to come back to Houston to watch our games," Biggio said. "He's going to pay two grand for an airline ticket, but he's going to get $500 back because he got a hole-in-one." Bomb scare: Astros players couldn't for the life of them figure out why the buses were traveling around 10 mph through downtown Milwaukee on their way to the hotel on Monday, and considering it was already 4:30 a.m., the slow speeds irritated quite a few players. Little did they know, the team hotel was being investigated after it received a bomb threat. "They said they had a situation," Rick White said. "We didn't find out about the situation until we got to the hotel." Police led bomb-sniffing dogs through the hotel before deeming it safe for the Astros to check in. Still, general manager Tim Purpura said the incident was somewhat alarming. "You just got off a flight, all you want to do it get to bed and you've got to kind of wait around and see what's going on," he said. "We talked to MLB Security today. It seemed like it was kind of a random thing." Good news for Backe: Brandon Backe has been throwing off the mound in the last week, and it looks like he's ready to resume throwing simulated games. The right-hander will throw a light bullpen on Tuesday, and he'll throw to batters for the first time since mid-May on Friday. "It'll be more like a [batting practice] session than simulated," Backe said. Backe was shut down six weeks ago after he felt soreness in his elbow, which put a halt on the simulated-game schedule that he was hoping would be the precursor for leaving on a Minor League rehab assignment. Even though he's been cleared to start throwing to hitters, Backe, who is recovering from Tommy John elbow-reconstruction surgery, has a long way to go before he can think about returning to the mound in a Major League game. "He'll start up a schedule of simulated games, but there will be five, six, seven of those," Purpura said. "Friday will be a big step for me," Backe said. "Hopefully, it won't take too many of those to go off and pitch in the Minor Leagues. I'm knocking on wood this time." Optimistic: Purpura is cautiously optimistic about Brad Lidge's progress, and he isn't ruling out a return to the mound prior to the All-Star break. Lidge went on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle on his left side last Wednesday in Anaheim and began strengthening exercises on Friday in Arlington. If all goes well, he could be available the first week in July, while the Astros are finishing an 11-game homestand leading into the break. That said, Purpura has no plans to rush Lidge before it's time. "I told him, 'I need a closer, not a hero,'" Purpura said. "Don't go too fast, too soon. I don't want to rush him back and lose him for six weeks." Coming up: The series with the Brewers continues on Tuesday at Miller Park, beginning at 7:05 p.m. CT. Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (4-6, 4.20 ERA) will face Brewers right-hander Claudio Vargas (6-1, 4.09).
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.