Astros routed by Tigers in spring training

TAMPA, FL For the first time all spring, Leyland played his projected Opening Day starting lineup. Future Hall-of-Famer Ivan Rodriguez batted eighth and hit two homers off Houston starter Woody Williams, and the Tigers scored nine runs in the first four innings, eight off Williams.

"We took advantage of the elements," Leyland said. "We hit it well, but it's just spring training."

Gary Sheffield had a single to improve his average to .056 on the spring. Sheffield, who batted third, said he wasn't concerned about numbers until April.

"I am not looking for results in the spring," Sheffield said. "I put my time in and see how it all sets up. I like this team and it's nice knowing that I can usually to come bat with somebody on second base. That's special. It is nice to know that if someone is on base, someone will get him in. That's the power of this lineup."

Rodriguez said he is already prepared for the season and playing his part at the bottom of the order.

"I'm not even looking for home runs," Rodriguez said. "All I am trying to do is make contact. I feel great right now. I hope I can keep this stroke all year."

Kenny Rogers pitched five innings for the Tigers, his longest stint of the spring. He allowed three hits and one earned run. Williams allowed eight earned runs in three innings, and Astros manager Cecil Cooper said Williams and his spring ERA of 15.26 was on his mind.

"I am getting a little concerned," Cooper said. "They hit some good pitches, but they also got too many good swings off of him. I have to start keeping an eye and the clock is ticking. We don't want to go in another direction and we want to give him every opportunity."

Williams was 8-15 with a 5.27 ERA for the Astros last year. He said he was as frustrated as anyone.

"If a day like today has anything to do with my future then I don't think about it." Williams said. "In my opinion, it is out of my hands."

Notes: Former third baseman Brandon Inge never made an appearance even after the Tigers started playing back-ups. Inge has requested a trade ... First baseman Carlos Guillen had three more hits, improving his average to .343. He led the Grapefruit League with four homers entering Wednesday's play ... Leyland said this is the most set team he's had since his days with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the early 90's when he won three straight divisional championships. "This is the close to my most set team ever," Leyland said. "A few years I had in Pittsburgh were set, but the main thing I am thinking about now is the 25th player thing." ... The Tigers trimmed 12 players from their major league camp, leaving them with 46 players. The only surprise was left-handed pitcher Macay McBride, who was assigned to Triple-A Toledo. McBride pitched in 38 games for the Tigers and Braves last season.

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