Report: Astros ask Bagwell to retire

Jeff Bagwell intends to play for the Astros this season, but the team isn't sure that's the best financial decision.

The first baseman has played his entire career in Houston and leads the franchise in home runs (449) and RBI (1,529), but missed much of last season after shoulder surgery.

"Nothing is going to keep me from attempting to play baseball next season," Bagwell told the Houston Chronicle.

The team, however, wants him to announce he can't play anymore, he and agent Barry Axelrod told the paper. Then the Astros would be able make an insurance claim for $15.6 million of the approximately $17 million he is owed in 2006.

"We're trying to get some objective information," Astros general manager Tim Purpura told the paper. "A healthy Jeff Bagwell is what we want. If he can't be a full-time player, we have to figure out if we can collect on the insurance or not."

To that end, the team has asked Bagwell to visit orthopedist Dr. James Andrews' office on Thursday in Birmingham, Ala., the Chronicle reported. The deadline for the insurance claim is Jan. 31.

Bagwell isn't excited about the trip, and he's not ready to quit playing.

"There's no question in my mind I can hit," he told the paper. "It's whether or not I can throw for a full season. Everything has gone exactly the way I thought it should. I'm getting stronger. Am I able to throw 120 feet? No. Am I making progress? Very much so.

"I'm going to try and play baseball at spring training. There's no getting around that. Unless something major happens, I'll be there."