Bagwell, trying to convince the Astros -- and himself -- that he
is healthy enough to be an everyday first baseman at age 37, went
1-for-3 as the designated hitter. Eric Bruntlett had four RBI,
while Jason Lane hit a solo homer and drove in three runs for
Houston, which pounded Indians starter C.C. Sabathia for seven runs
in 1 2-3 innings."Hitting is no problem, the question is if I can make throws,"
Bagwell said. "I'll give it a try at first base in a game in about
a week."Bagwell had surgery in June on his right shoulder. The team had
encouraged him to retire because of the injury and filed an
insurance claim in January to see if they could recoup about $15.6
million of the $17 million he is guaranteed this season in the
final year of his contract."Nobody is going to pick up that contract, so if I'm going to
play this year it's going to be with Houston," Bagwell said. "I
want to play for the Astros anyway."Manager Phil Garner intends to give Bagwell every chance to add
to his team-record 449 career home runs."The best-case scenario is if Jeff is able to play," Garner
said. "But in the National League, you've got to play the field.
To carry him as a pinch-hitter is beyond a question right now."Nobody with the club has said to me, 'Don't play Jeff.'
Everybody has said let's get him in shape and see what he can do. I
have to make a baseball decision. If I don't think he can do it,
I've got to be honest."Bagwell said he understands Garner's situation."The team can't wait on me," Bagwell said. "They need to know
now. I think I'll honestly know if I can or can't."Sabathia faced 14 batters and gave up seven runs, six hits and
two walks."I felt good, though," said Sabathia, who is scheduled to
start opening day. "I threw mostly fastballs. I didn't like
getting hit around. Nobody likes that. But my arm felt fine."Chris Burke had an RBI triple in the Astros' three-run first off
Sabathia. Lane followed with an RBI double and scored on a
sacrifice fly by Bruntlett.Lane drew a bases-loaded walk and Bruntlett had a three-run
double in the second as Sabathia continued to struggle.Jason Michaels had an RBI single and Jhonny Peralta followed
with a three-run homer to right-center off Fernando Nieve in the
third to cut it to 7-4.Lane's fourth-inning homer off Cliff Lee made it 8-4.Cleveland's Ryan Mulhern, who hit 32 homers in the minors in
2005, hit the first pitch he saw in the sixth for an opposite-field
homer to right.
Astros starter RHP Taylor Buchholz gave up one hit over two
scoreless innings. "Taylor set the tone," Garner said. "He threw
strikes. I like that." ... Hall of Famer Bob Feller got the
loudest cheer when introduced before the game as he played catch on
the sidelines. He made his major-league debut for Cleveland nearly
70 years ago, July 19, 1936. ... RHP Ben Howard drew laughs when
his first warmup pitch sailed all the way to the screen behind home
plate. He then struck out the only man he faced, Astros 1B J.R.
House. ... Indians OF prospect Brad Snyder dove across the
pitcher's mound in the Indians bullpen to make a sensational catch
of a foul fly hit by Bruntlett in the fourth.