02/27/07 5:46 PM ET
Notes: Gimenez likely out for season
Astros catcher needs surgery for torn right labrum
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Gimenez will fly to Houston on Sunday to have the surgery Monday. He'll remain in Houston for the duration of his rehab so that he can work with the club's physical therapists four times a week.
The switch-hitting catcher will probably miss the entire season, but he's hopeful that the procedure will put an end to the physical issues he's been dealing with since 2005.
"I'm disappointed, but I know that that's what it has to be, to be healthy again." Gimenez said. "That's what I want. Even though I know I'm ready for the surgery, I'm scared, too, because it's the first time that I've had surgery in my career. But I have to do it, and work hard to come back."
Gimenez could be ready to resume baseball-related activities in three months, but that's the very earliest he would be cleared to start throwing in earnest. His recovery time will likely stretch to six months or more.
"His mechanics have to be good enough to throw," general manager Tim Purpura said. "He has to be free and loose. It'll be three months until he can even start tossing the ball. It does put his season in jeopardy."
Underhanded: Jeff Bagwell spent ample time with catcher Brad Ausmus on Tuesday as the two talked about the catcher's hitting, which, judging from his .230 batting average last year, could use some help.
"I'm more here for moral support," Bagwell said.
But the retired first baseman isn't just a casual bystander. He spent a bit of time in the batting cages with Ausmus and Craig Biggio, tossing underhand to his former teammates as they took their swings.
"There's a first time for everything," Biggio said. "You've always got to try something at least once. He was good. As long as he doesn't have to bring that shoulder up over his head, he's fine."
Injection: Ausmus surmised that he last received a cortisone injection 10 years ago, and after having one on Sunday, he doesn't anticipate that he'll need another.
Ausmus, who has been dealing with shoulder soreness that he first experienced during the offseason, hopes the shot will take care of the last remnants of pain that has declined greatly since he reported to Spring Training.
"It had gotten so much better over the course of the last three weeks, but it wouldn't get over that last little bump," Ausmus said. "So we're hoping this knocks it out."
Ausmus threw lightly on Tuesday at a distance of 90 feet without pain. He also threw to second while the pitchers were practicing their moves to first base and third base.
"It had a little hump in it," Ausmus said. "Mine has had a little more of a hump as I get older anyway, but this was even more humpy."
Headed to Houston: Carlos Lee is taking a short break from Spring Training in order to attend the Livestock Show and Rodeo in Houston this week.
Lee is planning to leave Kissimmee on Wednesday, and he'll be back in camp on Friday. As an owner of a cattle ranch, Lee will show some of his prized possessions at the annual event in Houston.
Lee attended the rodeo last year, too.
"I got a free pass," he said. "It was a lot of fun."
Color coded: As Troy Patton walked up and down the sidewalk outside of the Astros' clubhouse on Monday, he noted that the sprinklers on the practice fields were now painted bright orange.
That's a new thing at Osceola County Stadium. The grounds crew was instructed to paint the sprinklers after Patton twisted his left ankle tripping on one during morning running drills.
The left-hander, trying to stay under the radar in his first Major League Spring Training camp, has received quite a bit of ribbing from his teammates.
"Apparently, I'm the only idiot who's ever done this," Patton said.
On a more positive note, Patton threw 40 pitches on flat ground on Tuesday and should be ready to throw a bullpen session Thursday.
Intrasquad: Following the Astros' intrasquad game on Tuesday, shouts of "Astros win again" resonated from the clubhouse as players ended another day of Spring Training workouts.
Indeed, the Astros did win, considering Astros players were the only ones involved in this abbreviated game. Although it was only a scrimmage, players were clearly on a high. After all, other than the few who played winter ball, this was the first time they've competed in a game of any kind in months.
Manager Phil Garner was genuinely impressed with the hitters, who had much better at-bats than he expected this time of the spring. But Garner saved his most emphatic praise for closer Brad Lidge, the marquee name in this intrasquad game.
"Brad Lidge, I thought, was perfect," Garner said. "I'm excited for him. He looked really good."
Garner was referring mostly to Lidge's mechanics.
"It'll take him all spring to get his quickness in his fastball and that slider that he wants," Garner said. "But each level that he amps up, if he maintains his mechanics like he did today, then he'll be in perfect shape. He'll be ready to start the season."
Lidge, who specifically asked to play in this game, threw everything -- fastballs, sliders, sinkers and cutters.
"It was really positive for me," Lidge said. "I was able to keep the mechanics intact. I even threw a cutter to [Mike] Lamb that worked. I got him to swing and miss on it. Everything's where I want it to be right now."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.