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News » Houston Astros Inside Pitch 2009-02-27


Houston Astros Inside Pitch 2009-02-27


Houston Astros Inside Pitch 2009-02-27
Although Mike Hampton has learned to cope with injuries, the veteran left-hander wasn't prepared for the scare of his lifetime when an irregular heart beat forced the team to fly him back to Houston.

Yet, Hampton was eager to believe doctors as they tried to assure him that his irregular heart beat didn't put him in much peril.

Easy for them to say, Hampton thought. The irregular heartbeat wasn't theirs.

"It's one of the most important organs you have," he said. "At least they didn't pull up an ambulance and throw me in the back of that and were like, 'You got to go.'"

Baseball mortality settled into Hampton long ago, chipping away at his sense of invincibility with each surgery or stint on the disabled list.

True mortality, however, hardly had crossed his mind until this month. At 36, he seems in supreme condition. But an irregular heartbeat was found during the EKG test he underwent Feb. 14 during his physical exam.

"I guess cautiously optimistic," he said of his mood after the news. "I still had some tests to do and stuff like that. Anytime you find something like that wrong with your heart and you have to fly to Houston and everybody's like, 'You need to go, you need to go,' it's a roller coaster of emotions."

While manager Cecil Cooper and general manager Ed Wade were optimistic all would be fine with Hampton, the veteran left-hander's teammates noticed their friend was shaken.

"They're going to basically jump-start your heart and reboot it," he said of the initial plans. "That's something you do with your car. Yeah, it's potential death. Who wants to die? I don't. I still got some stuff I want to do in his world."

Fortunately for Hampton, his heart got back into rhythm on its own, and he didn't need to go through the procedure in which medical personnel were going to put his heartbeat back in rhythm by applying electrical currents.

TOP CANDIDATE TO SURPRISE: CF Michael Bourn struggled in his first season with the Astros after he was acquired from Philadelphia as the main piece received for closer Brad Lidge. Some fans soured on him, but he made great progress in the Dominican winter league playing for Aguilas, cutting down on his strikeouts while showing more patience and a willingness to bunt for hits.

TOP CANDIDATE TO DISAPPOINT: 2B Kaz Matsui showed flashes of brilliance while sparking the offense when healthy, but he was plagued late in the season with back problems and early in the season with anal fissures. The Astros need Matsui, and it's hard to believe he can just completely put the back problems behind him.

AUTHORITY FIGURES: Manager Cecil Cooper, who has a 101-91 record over his brief career, will enter his second full season. He readily admitted to the players that they helped him overcome a rough patch early last season. He admits he must figure out a way to disguise his feelings, but the former All-Star's good-natured personality fit in well and helped the club have the best record in the second half of last season.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 27, 2009

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