KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Carlos Lee had a great spring training last year, then struggled when the season started. So his approach is a bit different this year.
``I probably had the best spring training of my career, hit over .400 in spring training, and I came out with a slow start,' Lee said after he made his spring debut Tuesday in the Houston Astros' 4-1 victory over a split-squad of New York Mets. ``So I guess it's all about how you feel, and making sure you go up there with a good approach.'
Lee, who has been held back by a mild hamstring strain, went 1 for 3 and made a sliding catch in front of the Mets' dugout.
He was satisfied with his day at the plate, but the hamstring is still tender.
``I had to push it, but I'm not going to feel 100 percent right away,' Lee said. ``It's something I have to build up, but it felt good out there today.'
Wandy Rodriguez, the favorite to start on opening day for Houston, allowed one hit in three scoreless innings. He struck out one and walked none.
Rodriguez, who had 11 of the Astros' 56 wins last season, said he needs more work.
``I felt good today but I missed a lot of my spots,' the 33-year-old left-hander said. ``That's normal because it's my first outing. My arm was strong today. I felt like my fastball was fast, but in all three innings, I tried to work on my location.'
Manager Brad Mills was more satisfied than Rodriguez.
``He's struggled in spring trainings past, but he threw the ball extremely well,' Mills said. ``It was tough for him to get a feel with his changeup, but his fastball had good life on it, and for the first time out I didn't think it was bad at all.'
Brad Snyder and Chris Snyder went deep for the Astros. Brad Snyder hit a two-run homer off Chris Schwinden in the second inning, giving Houston a 3-1 lead.
Josh Satin had two of New York's five hits and drove in a run. Lucas Duda had the only hit off Rodriguez.
Lee split time last year between left field and first base. He will be used exclusively at first base this season, but the rebuilding Astros could move the 36-year-old slugger if they find the right match.
For now, Lee is concentrating on getting his swing ready.
``Last year I came out of spring training hitting so good, and I got to April and it didn't happen,' he said.
NOTES: Pitcher Paul Clemens left the Astros to be with his wife in Atlanta for the birth of their first child. ... Only one of the three runs charged to Schwinden was earned. ... 3B Jimmy Paredes (left wrist) and SS Angel Sanchez (lower back) will travel with the Astros on Wednesday and might play for the first time.
The Associated Press News Service
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