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Friday, January 13, 2006
Astros await test results on Bagwell, weigh options

Associated Press

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros were awaiting test results on Jeff Bagwell's troublesome right shoulder before determining how productive they think he can be next season.

Jeff Bagwell

The four-time All-Star first baseman and 1994 NL MVP is guaranteed $17 million in 2006, but if he retires or deems himself unable to play, the Astros can file an insurance claim and collect $15.6 million. The team must file the claim by Jan. 31.

"We would love to have a healthy Jeff Bagwell," general manager Tim Purpura said Friday. "If we can't have that, we have to consider all of our options."

The 37-year-old Bagwell missed 115 games last season after undergoing capsular release surgery on his shoulder. He returned in September, but couldn't throw and was limited to pinch-hitting duty in the playoffs.

We would love to have a healthy Jeff Bagwell. If we can't have that, we have to consider all of our options.
Astros general manager Tim Purpura

At the team's request, Bagwell flew to Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday to be examined. He was hooked up to high-tech, computerized machines that analyzed the strength and range of motion in his shoulder.

Purpura said the Astros were expecting the results of those tests by early next week.

"We're just trying to gauge where he's at," Purpura said. "His shoulder was in pretty bad shape."

Barry Axelrod, Bagwell's agent, said his client intends to train with the Astros this spring and begin his 16th major league season.

"He's feeling great," Axelrod said. "He's throwing again and he feels like he's swinging the bat well. He'll never have a year like he had in 1994, but he still feels like he can be a very productive player."

Axelrod said the Astros have never asked Bagwell to retire.

A fan favorite, Bagwell is Houston's career leader in homers (449), runs scored (1,517) and RBI (1,529), but Axelrod understands the Astros' difficult position.

"He's not going to be a $17 million player and I'm sure the team would like to have about $15 million of that free to spend," he said. "It's all part of the process, and we understand that. This is a business."

Purpura would not speculate about whether he thought Bagwell would be an Astro next season.

"There are so many issues intertwined," Purpura said. "It's a tough situation for the player, it's a tough situation for the team."