|ESPN.com: Baseball||[Print without images]|
The 36-year-old batted .258 with three homers and 47 RBI in 134 games for Houston during the regular season and hit a tying two-out, ninth-inning homer in Game 4 of the first-round series against Atlanta, a game the Astros won in a postseason-record 18 innings to move on to the NL championship series.
He became a free agent after the Astros were swept by the Chicago White Sox in the World Series and was offered salary arbitration by Houston last week, extending the Astros' negotiating period through Jan. 8.
"I think he's a key member of our team," said Astros general manager Tim Purpura. "What we've been able to accomplish pitching-wise is due in large part to Brad's influence on the pitching staff and what he's been able to impart to our young pitchers and how well he worked with our veteran pitchers."
Ausmus has played seven seasons for Houston, after spending 1997-98 with the club and returning in 2001. He won the Gold Gloves in 2001 and 2002 -- the only ones won by Astros players.
A 13-year veteran, Ausmus has also played with San Diego and Detroit. He has 71 career homers and 508 RBI.
Purpura said Ausmus spends so much time studying and preparing for games that he is almost like another coach.
"He really takes on that type of role," he said. "He goes through scouting reports and all the statistical information like a college professor going through an exam. He really puts a lot of time into it."
One question raised with the re-signing of Ausmus is whether it will help get Roger Clemens back for another season with the Astros.
Houston declined to offer salary arbitration to the seven-time Cy Young winner last week, meaning he can't re-sign with the team before May 1.
"I don't know if it helps," Purpura said. "But I certainly
don't think it hurts, because he's got a stable commodity there
behind the plate, someone who he works with extremely well."