Friday, September 28, 2007

Biggio to catch one last time

CINCINNATI -- As a kid growing up in Galveston, Texas, Brandon Backe attended his fair share of games at the Astrodome. He idolized Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, and he has vivid memories of watching Biggio when he first came up to the big leagues as a catcher.

Nearly 16 years have passed since Biggio last caught in a Major League game, but that streak will end this weekend when Biggio crouches behind the plate for one inning, maybe two, to catch Backe on Saturday.

Biggio originally had planned to catch Roy Oswalt on Friday, but after the right-hander shut it down for the year, Biggio turned to Backe, for two reasons. He doesn't throw too hard, and he figured Backe would get a kick out of pitching to someone he admired as a young Astros fan in the late 1980s and '90s.

Biggio was right on both counts.

"I guess it's kind of fitting for someone that grew up watching him as a catcher, and basically throughout his career," Backe said. "To be able to pitch to him ... that would be in a way pretty special to me. I don't know who's getting the better end of the deal, him or me, but it should be pretty interesting and I'm excited."

"After they said [Oswalt's] not going to pitch anymore, it was, all right, who's next?" Biggio said. "Brandon's perfect, he grew up near Houston, he's from there, he cheered for us back in the Astrodome days. I hope he's excited. I'm excited about it. Hopefully it'll go well."

Biggio and Backe had a quick practice session in the bullpen on Wednesday, and Biggio indicated he's ready, or at least, as ready as he's going to be.

"It went well yesterday," Biggio said. "But once the game gets here and you have a hitter and an umpire behind you, it'll probably be a little bit different. After what we went through yesterday, I think we'll be OK. I hope so."

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