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Notes: Rodriguez's struggles continue

Notes: Rodriguez's struggles continue

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Like every other starter not named Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez struggled in the final week of the Florida portion of Spring Training.

Rodriguez allowed three runs -- two earned -- on four hits over three innings against the Mets on Sunday. He walked four and struck out two.

He also had a minor episode when he irritated the inside of his left foot while pitching to Ben Johnson in the third frame. Less-than-smooth mound conditions seemingly contributed to the bruise, which brought manager Phil Garner, pitching coach Dave Wallace and assistant athletic trainer Rex Jones to the mound to check on the left-hander.

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Rodriguez stayed in the game long enough to finish the inning and said later he did not feel he would be hindered in further outings.

"I put ice on it and now it feels better," he said.

As for the rest of his outing, Rodriguez said he was missing with his location.

"The two-seamer wasn't breaking," he said. "But my changeup was good and my curveball was, too."

"I thought Wandy threw the ball better than his line's going to show," Garner said. "His one mistake today was in the third inning, the two-out walk. It's a senseless walk. That was his mistake. He should have been out of the inning. There were some balls that should have been caught. For me, that was his only issue. Other that that I thought he did fine."

Nieve, too: Rotation hopeful Fernando Nieve retired 12 consecutive batters from the fourth through the seventh innings against the Mets, striking out three.

This performance could catapult the right-hander to the top among the five pitchers who are auditioning for two vacant rotation spots.

"That was my best outing all Spring Training," Nieve said. "I worked all my pitches and I felt great. My command, my control today was pretty good. I just need to keep going."

Nieve is tentatively slated to start Thursday's Grapefruit League finale in Lakeland, and Matt Albers, who threw two scoreless frames against the Mets, will probably also pitch in the game with the Tigers.

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Minor outings: Brad Lidge, Dan Wheeler and Trever Miller pitched in a Minor League intrasquad game while the Astros played the Mets in Port St. Lucie on Sunday.

Facing Double-A players, Lidge allowed one run on three hits with a walk and two strikeouts over two innings. Miller allowed two runs on three hits with two strikeouts over one frame, and Wheeler pitched two innings, allowing one hit and one walk, striking out two.

Lidge threw 29 pitches, 15 for strikes.

"He threw well," said pitching coach Dave Wallace. "He was content with it. It was good for him to get out there and pitch. Get out there and get a feel over a couple of innings."

Brad Ausmus caught all three pitchers.

Bagwell in camp: Jeff Bagwell rejoined the Astros in Florida over the weekend and on Sunday, he drove to Port St. Lucie for the club's game with the Mets.

The trip gave Bagwell a chance to visit current Mets and former teammates Moises Alou and Billy Wagner, but Bagwell was most looking forward to seeing his father, Robert, who lives near Jupiter, located about a half-hour from the Mets' Spring Training home. Seventy-nine year-old Robert Bagwell underwent heart surgery just after Christmas.

"The last time I saw him he had tubes in him," Bagwell said.

Bright side: If the flap over the controversy surrounding Craig Biggio's Sunshine Kids pin did any good, it's that the support group for kids with cancer has gained a great deal of national attention.

In the three days since Biggio aired his displeasure toward Major League Baseball's request that he remove the Sunshine Kids pin from his hat -- presumably because he was in violation of the league's uniform rules -- the Sunshine Kids have been inundated with fans wishing to make donations to the charity.

Those who wish to make a contribution, or obtain a Sunshine Kids pin, can do so at www.sunshinekids.org. On the donation form, specifically request a pin and one will be mailed.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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