Boone makes appearance at park
HOUSTON -- Aaron Boone returned to the ballpark Wednesday for the first time since open heart surgery, still waiting to decide whether he'll resume his playing career.
"You want to see my scar?" the Houston Astros infielder said, greeting reporters. He lifted his T-shirt to reveal a thin, bright pink line that ran from the middle of his chest up to his collarbone.
"I feel good," said a noticeably thinner Boone, who has dropped about 15 pounds since the surgery. "I'm six weeks tomorrow and I feel a lot better than I did two weeks ago, and it's definitely getting better all the time."
The 36-year-old Boone had surgery March 26 to replace a bicuspid aortic valve. He was diagnosed with a congenital defect in his heart where the valve has two -- not the normal three -- cusps to manage blood flow.
Boone said he's thought a lot about his future in recent weeks.
"I don't want to get too ahead of myself, but I'm certainly not cashing it in yet," he said. "We'll see where I am four weeks from now, six weeks from now and go from there."
The Astros celebrated Boone's recovery on the same day they learned hitting coach Sean Berry has what doctors believe is a cancerous tumor on his kidney.
Berry experienced bleeding for the past few days while Houston was on a road trip and figured he was passing kidney stones. The tumor was found on his right kidney during a consultation with a doctor on Wednesday, and another visit is set for Thursday to schedule surgery to have it removed.
An upbeat Berry, who played for Houston for three seasons, informed the team of his condition in a meeting before batting practice Wednesday.
"From talking to the doctors ... from what I understand, after they cut it out I should be 100 percent fine," Berry said. "No chemo[therapy], no radiation."
The 43-year-old Berry may not have learned of his condition this soon had it not been for an extra round of batting practice the coaches took in Atlanta at the urging of third base coach Dave Clark.
"The docs seem to think that maybe that's what triggered the bleeding to help me be aware of the [problem], so it's actually a good thing," Berry said.
For Boone, who joined the team in the offseason, training won't begin for a least another six weeks. For now, he's staying active by riding a stationary bike and walking on a treadmill.
Boone has been moved by the outpouring of support from the Astros since the surgery.
"Unbelievable. I feel like they've treated me like I've been here 10 or 12 years," he said. "Everyone on the team has just been [great], from friends and acquaintances across the league, the outreach has been touching. That's something I'll always remember."
He will be with the team Wednesday and Thursday and plans to spend more time with the Astros as he gets stronger.
Astros manager Cecil Cooper was happy to see Boone back with the team.
"Everyone gave him big hugs and he was all smiling," Cooper said. "It's great to have him around, I think it will lift some of our spirits a little bit to see him."
Astros ace Roy Oswalt expects to make his next scheduled start on Sunday despite a bone bruise on his right index finger. Oswalt said X-rays revealed no damage, but he may skip his bullpen session Thursday to recover from the injury that occurred while he was batting on Tuesday against Washington. ... The Astros recalled RHP Alberto Arias from Triple-A Round Rock and designated IF Jason Smith for assignment.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press