Notes: Biggio angry about pin removal
Veteran wears badge in support of Sunshine Kids organization
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Craig Biggio isn't one to air his gripes through the media, but the 20-year veteran was clearly unhappy when he summoned reporters to his locker during the Astros' game with the Nationals on Thursday night.
Biggio was hopping mad about an order that came down from the league office prior to the game, asking that he remove his Sunshine Kids pin from his Spring Training cap.
For most of Biggio's career, he has been the spokesman for The Sunshine Kids, a support organization for children with cancer and their families. He wears the pin -- yellow, in the shape of a sun -- on every cap while not playing in a regular-season game. He wears the pin on his batting practice hats and his Spring Training caps, as well as during every photo shoot.
He's always worn the pin during spring games without any backlash from the league or opposing teams, but according to Biggio, a league official, having watched the Astros-Devil Rays game on the local Houston Fox Southwest feed, sent word to Kissimmee that he must remove it.
A picture from that game was faxed to the Astros, who informed him of the league's request.
Biggio was not happy with the ruling, to put it mildly.
"For 20 years I've been wearing it," Biggio said. "Obviously, I'm not a disrespectful person, and I'm not disrespecting the game. I've been wearing this pin for 20 years, and it puts smiles on 20-something-thousand cancer patients.
"A lot of the bubble-gum card pictures are taken during Spring Training. The kids see it, and it makes them feel good. That's why I do it."
Biggio mentioned the threat from the league office regarding a fine, but general manager Tim Purpura said there was no fine, and no threat of one. Purpura chose not to comment further on the issue. The Commissioner's Office declined to comment as well.
Biggio, on the other hand, had plenty to say.
"I just felt it was pretty stupid," he said. "I'm the last person that's going to disrespect the game. I don't ask to wear it during the season, because that's not right. I wear it before the game, but when the games start during the regular season, I wear the regular hat. That's the way it's supposed to be."
Rough night: Morgan Ensberg was hit with a batted ball on the inside of his leg during Thursday's game and later was hit in the back area by a pitch, prompting manager Phil Garner to remove him from the game in the third inning.
"He's bruised," Garner said. "The first one hit right on the inside of the knee, kind of like a funny bone, where your leg goes wobbly on you. The next one was a kidney shot. He could have stayed in and played. I just took him out."
Good teammate: Wandy Rodriguez wasn't the only Astro who worked on Tuesday's off-day. While the left-hander pitched five innings in a Class A game, his veteran teammate, Woody Williams, watched from the dugout in a show of support.
"He comes out on an off-day and encouraged him along and gave him feedback, too," Purpura said. "That says a lot about Woody, how much he wants to win -- watching him on an off-day. He got a lot of good advice from him, too."
"He's a very good guy," Rodriguez said. "In the first inning, he said, 'Wandy, keep the ball down. Think about what you're throwing.' "
Birthday delight: They say that anything goes during Spring Training, a point "driven" home quite handily during Thursday's game with the Nationals.
Two members of the Astros' coaching staff celebrated birthdays -- hitting coach Sean Berry and special assistant Matt Galante.
To commemorate Galante's birthday, several uniformed personnel arranged for a stretch limo to drive onto the field, where a golf cart transported two special guests to deliver a cake -- actually, it was a pizza -- to the dugout.
Last year, two waitresses from the popular Spring Training hangout The Winghouse delivered the goods. This year the presenters were Vince and Maria Manzi, owners of Galante's favorite Kissimmee restaurant, La Forchetta.
The public-address announcer added 25 years to Galante's age when he wished the longtime coach a happy "88th" birthday.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.