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Oswalt's new bulldozer a reward for clinching start

12/19/2005 - MLB Roy Oswalt Houston Astros + more

HOUSTON -- By the third inning of the Houston Astros'
pennant-clinching victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, Roy Oswalt
was dreaming about a bulldozer.

The right-handed ace remembered what Astros owner Drayton McLane
promised him in the clubhouse before the game -- win and you'll get
that all-purpose tractor you've always wanted.

Oswalt came through, allowing one run in seven innings in the
Game 6 victory that sent Houston to its first World Series.

On Monday, McLane fulfilled his part of the bargain, presenting
Oswalt with a shiny, new Caterpillar D6N XL -- with a giant red bow
on top of the cab.

"That's a pretty good gift for Christmas, for sure,'' Oswalt
said.

The Weir, Miss., native beamed as he climbed aboard the
corn-colored machine, hauled into the parking lot at Minute Maid
Park on a flatbed tractor-trailer.

"This is a dozer you can do anything with,'' Oswalt said.

McLane said a bulldozer has been on Oswalt's wish list almost
from the day he moved up to the majors in 2001. The model he
purchased for Oswalt cost about $200,000.

"Each year, with our players, I ask them what their goals
are,'' McLane said. "I said, 'Roy, what is one of your goals?' He
said, 'To own a bulldozer.' That kind of took me back a little bit.
I had never heard that before.''

Oswalt said the bulldozer -- not his rising baseball stardom --
will make him the envy of everyone in his tiny hometown. He'll use
the new toy to repair two man-made lakes and build some roads at
the 1,000-acre ranch he owns with his brother.

"There are going to be a lot of jealous people around where I
live,'' Oswalt said. "I'm going to try to hire out and make a
little money in the offseason.''

Astros general manager Tim Purpura joked that the team made
baseball history by placing the first "bulldozer clause'' into a
contract. Teams are required to disclose any high-dollar gifts
given to players.

"We've achieved a great historical milestone,'' Purpura said
with a smile.

Other than not offering arbitration to Roger Clemens, the Astros
have done little dealing this offseason. The 28-year-old Oswalt,
who has one year left on a two-year, $17 million contract he signed
last February, said he has not spoken with Clemens, who has not
said whether he'll retire.

"I don't know anything about it,'' Oswalt said. "They tell me
to pitch and I pitch. That's all I do.''

Purpura said the Astros were in the running to sign Nomar
Garciaparra until the All-Star shortstop opted for Los Angeles.

Last week, the Astros re-signed catcher Brad Ausmus and
infielder Mike Lamb. Closer Brad Lidge and third baseman Morgan
Ensberg are eligible for arbitration.

Purpura was tight-lipped about other deals that might be in the
works.

"We've been in the process of talking to other clubs,'' Purpura
said. "Just because the holidays are here, we're going to try to
keep working to improve this club, but we have to do it in a way
where we're not going to mortgage our future and hurt ourselves
long-term.''