Garner still eager to see Bagwell throw hard

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) -- Jeff Bagwell finally got to make his

first throw in a game this spring, and it was right on target.

Too bad it was also underhanded.

The only reason I want to make a throw is to get everyone off my back.
Jeff Bagwell

Bagwell, trying to convince the Houston Astros that his right

shoulder is strong enough for them to keep him, played first base

for the second straight day in a 6-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians

on Saturday.

In four innings, Bagwell hit two singles, scored twice, got his

uniform dirty with some dives in the dirt and made an error in the

fifth inning that helped the Indians overcome a 5-0 deficit.

"He got a workout in," Astros manager Phil Garner said.

After booting Ramon Vazquez's grounder near the bag, Bagwell

picked it up and scooped it to Houston starter Ezequiel Astacio,

who was too late covering the bag.

The Astros have been waiting to see how Bagwell's shoulder holds

up once he has to make a tough throw. This one was way too easy.

"That doesn't count," Bagwell said of his soft toss. "To be

honest with you guys, I'm not really looking to throw. I guess

everyone else is."

Houston thinks Bagwell might be too hurt to play and has filed

an insurance claim to recoup about $15.6 million of the $17 million

the popular 37-year-old is guaranteed in his final season under


Bagwell hadn't played consecutive games before Saturday.

"The biggest thing is that I played back-to-back days and I'm

no worse for it," Bagwell said. "I feel OK. I've still got a ways

to go, though, and I need to feel better than I do right now. My

first game I only played two innings and then I couldn't play the

next day. So overall this was good."

Until Bagwell has to fire a ball to the plate or start a double

play, there's no knowing how his shoulder will respond.

"He hasn't made a quick, hard throw and we want to see that,"

Garner said. "It will happen when it happens. Obviously, we'd like

to see it before Opening Day."

Bagwell, who underwent shoulder surgery last June, is pleased

with how he's throwing the ball in warmups. But he's not as eager to test it out as others.

"The only reason I want to make a throw is to get everyone off

my back," he said.

The Astros took a 5-0 lead after four innings against Cleveland

starter C.C. Sabathia, who allowed eight hits and five runs in 3 2/3 innings but felt good about his performance.

"It was the best I've felt as far as my stuff goes," said

Sabathia, unconcerned about an 8.76 ERA in four starts. "I got

some swings with my change and I got a strikeout or two with my

slider, so I'm happy."

Houston scored two runs in the third inning and added three in

the fourth on Lance Berkman's run-scoring single off Sabathia and

Morgan Ensberg's two-run single on reliever Ben Howard's first


Astacio didn't allow a hit in the first three innings and

cruised into the fourth with a five-run lead. It didn't take long,

however, for things to fall apart.

The Indians scored five runs in the fourth with three hits, two

walks, a wild pitch and a hit batter. There was also a stolen base

and a wild pitch in one of those mid-March innings teams don't want

to repeat in the regular season.

Cleveland took the lead on Jason Michaels' two-out RBI single in

the sixth.Game notes
The Astros made four errors. ... OF Ryan Mulhern, the

Indians' 2005 minor league player of the year, was reassigned to

minor league camp. ... Indians 2B Brandon Phillips was scratched

from the starting lineup with a viral infection.