Notes: Hirsh learned from Biggio
Former Astros hurler took advice; four Sky Sox named All-Stars
HOUSTON -- Most conversations about the Astros' Craig Biggio, who entered Thursday night's opener of a four-game set with the Rockies three hits away from the magical 3,000 mark, include the words "quiet leadership."
Amend the phrase to "quiet, forceful leadership," as former teammate Jason Hirsh, now a pitcher with the Rockies, learned last season after making it to the big leagues for the first time.
"My second day there, I was a little tardy getting to the field and he was the first person I saw," Hirsh said. "He made sure that I knew what my place was.
"He didn't' take the game for granted. His life is baseball and his kids, and the game is providing for his family. I learned from the way he carried himself, the way he performed on the field. Anybody can take something from him. You don't have to be a ballplayer."
Hirsh, center fielder Willy Taveras and right-handed pitcher Taylor Buchholz, all of whom joined the Rockies in an offseason trade with the Astros, all expressed admiration for Biggio.
Taveras broke into the Majors watching Biggio bat leadoff for the Astros. As a speedy leadoff-type and basestealer, he found a friend in the veteran.
"He pretty much came up to me when I was stealing, because he used to steal bags, too," said Taveras, who said he often marveled at Biggio's ability to sting the first pitch of games, when most players might have needed to see a pitch or two to gain timing. "If he saw something in my lead or if I was doing something wrong, he'd say things that will give me a better chance to steal the base.
"You have to take it the right way. Anytime a veteran player gives you advice, you've got to take it because this game can be tough. To play as long as he has, he's doing something right. As a young player, I heard and I listened and I took advantage of it."
Buchholz said Biggio reached out to younger teammates.
"We'd sit in the back of the bus together, have good conversations, sometimes about baseball, sometimes about other things," Buchholz said. "He's a good leader. He just led by example. Just being able to go out there for so long and just be good at what he's doing, really was amazing."
Stars all around: Four players from Triple-A Colorado Springs, all of whom have had callups to the Majors this season, were named to the Pacific Coast League squad for the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 11 in Albuquerque, N.M. -- infielder Clint Barmes, outfielder Sean Barker and relief pitchers Matt Herges and Ryan Speier.
"We felt like we were going to be athletic, we felt like we were going to have versatility, we felt like we were going to have depth," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "And that hasn't changed."
Hurdle was especially proud of Barmes, once the shortstop of the Rockies' future. He never regained his form in the Majors after suffering a collarbone injury early in the 2005 season, but his .331 batting average for the Sky Sox is an indication that he's turning the corner.
"He has embraced the opportunity to play every day, knowing that's the only way he's going to work through some things," Hurdle said. "He's been consistent. He's played second. He's played short. He's played center. He's at the top of the order.
"He's just playing the game as he did before he got hurt, and I think he's really enjoying himself."
Up next: Rockies right-hander Josh Fogg (3-6, 4.81 ERA) will start the second game of the series against Astros righty Chris Sampson (6-5, 3.71) Friday night at 6:05 p.m. MT.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.