Astros' coach 'feels great' after surgery

HOUSTON -- Astros hitting coach Sean Berry was taking playful grief from the moment he returned to the clubhouse for the first time since cancer surgery.

Berry, 43, was back on Monday after undergoing surgery on May 8 to remove a kidney with a cancerous tumor. He visited doctors before heading to the ballpark, where the Astros opened a four-game series against Colorado.

Equipment manager Dennis Liborio immediately pointed out that Berry was late for work, and Berry smiled.

"It feels great," Berry said. "It's tough going through what I went through, but it's tough leaving these guys kind of hanging like I felt [I did]. But I'm back and I'm excited to get ready and get going."

Doctors have told Berry he still must limit his activity -- he's not ready to throw batting practice just yet -- but he's hoping to stay with the team for the rest of the season.

"I need to take it easy for the first couple days," he said. "If there are going to be times when I feel a little out of it, if you see me disappear for a couple of innings, you'll know why."

Berry said he'll have another checkup in a month and will have chest X-rays taken every three months. But doctors said after the surgery that they removed the entire growth and Berry said his prognosis was good.

"I'm extremely fortunate," Berry said. "Someone was looking out for me. A lot of times when they find it, it's a little too late. A few more months, it could've gotten into the blood supply and the fatty tissue where it's not such a good thing. I'm fortunate."

Berry first began experiencing discomfort in his kidney area the first weekend in May, when the Astros were visiting Atlanta. Tests revealed the need for the surgery.

The Colorado series started a 10-game homestand for Houston and Astros manager Cecil Cooper wasn't sure if Berry would travel on the team's next road trip.

"He's going to have to really monitor himself," Cooper said.

Berry is in his fourth season as the Astros hitting coach. He played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues, including three seasons with the Astros (1996-98).