Struggling Astros part ways with hitting coach Gaetti

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros shook up their slumping
offense Wednesday night by firing hitting coach Gary Gaetti.

The Astros have the second-worst batting average in the National
League and their run total (408) ranks 23rd in the majors.

Earlier Wednesday, the Astros acquired Aubrey Huff from Tampa
Bay, but general manager Tim Purpura said he, manager Phil Garner
and owner Drayton McLane decided more changes were needed.

"We wanted to make sure no stone was left unturned as far as
making sure the players have what they need to succeed," Purpura

The Astros promoted minor league hitting coordinator Sean Berry
to replace Gaetti. Purpura said Berry would be the hitting coach
for the rest of this season, then be evaluated at the end.

"He brings a real fresh approach," Purpura said. "He's very
computer literate, very conversational with the hitters and has a
real plan for hitting we hope to implement."

Gaetti had been with the Astros since 2004. He began his
coaching career in the Houston organization in 2002 as a coach for
Triple-A New Orleans.

Berry will take over for Gaetti on Thursday in Miami, where the
Astros open a four-game series with Florida.

"This does not at all absolve the players of their
responsibilities," Garner said. "We've got to get on track. We're
looking forward to see how the players respond."

The Astros and San Diego have the second-worst slugging
percentages in the NL, ahead of only the Chicago Cubs. Garner said
he's looking for "tougher at-bats" from his team in the second

"At times, we've had some very tough at-bats," he said. "Too
many times, our time of possession (on offense) is too short. We
need to have longer innings and put more pressure on the
opposition. That's what I expect going forward."

Berry played for the Astros from 1996-98, batting .283 with 39
home runs and 190 RBI. He concluded his playing career with parts
of two seasons in Milwaukee (1999-2000) and Boston (2000).

The Astros are 43-46, six games behind St. Louis in the NL
Central. Though the bullpen has struggled and cost Houston several
games, Purpura said no more coaching changes were imminent.

"The No. 1 issue," he said, "is to get the offense purring