Astros legend Jeff Bagwell declines to return as hitting coach

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Jeff Bagwell, who left a cushy front-office job to return to the field as the Astros’ hitting coach at the All-Star break, announced Saturday that he wouldn’t return in that role in 2011.

Bagwell was offered a two-year deal to stay on as the hitting coach, but with seven- and nine-year-old daughters at home, he wasn’t willing to make that commitment.

“This was a very difficult decision for me,” he said in a press release. “I enjoyed my time as hitting coach a great deal. The players were great and I can’t think of a better coaching staff to work with. They were outstanding.”

Despite trading Lance Berkman to the Yankees at the deadline, the Astros improved considerably on offense in the second half. They went from hitting .238/.296/.347 before the break to .259/.311/.379 afterwards.

Bagwell will be eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time this winter. He leads a new class of eligibles that also includes Kevin Brown, Rafael Palmeiro, Larry Walker and John Olerud.

Jeff Samardzija to undergo MRI on right shoulder

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Update (12:58 AM ET): Per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, Samardzija has been diagnosed with a strained pectoral muscle. He’ll be shut down for a week. That’s good news for the Giants, considering the alternatives.


Giants starter Jeff Samardzija will undergo an MRI on his ailing right shoulder, according to NBC Sports Bay Area. The right-hander struggled in a minor league game on Wednesday, surrendering a pair of home runs and hitting a batter. Overall this spring, Samardzija has given up 15 runs (13 earned) on 17 hits (six homers) and seven walks with seven strikeouts in 11 innings.

This may mean Samardzija won’t be ready for the start of the regular season. Derek Holland would likely replace Samardzija in the rotation. Holland had been competing for the No. 5 spot in the Giants’ rotation.

Samardzija led the National League in losses last season with 15, also posting a 4.42 ERA with a 205/32 K/BB ratio in a league-high 207 2/3 innings. Since becoming a starter, Samardzija has been able to avoid injury, making 32 or 33 starts in each of the last five seasons.