4/21/2013 1:06 A.M. ET
Mills has fond memories of time in Houston
By Gene Duffey / Special to MLB.com
HOUSTON -- The telephone woke up Brad Mills in his hotel room Friday morning at 8 CT. That was too early, considering the Indians didn't check into the hotel until 3 a.m. after flying in from Cleveland.
The phone kept ringing for Cleveland's third-base coach, back in the city where he managed the Astros for 2 1/2 years.
"I have such fond memories," Mills said of Houston. "I love the city and love the people here. A lot of friends. It was just real different, riding in from the airport and coming out to the ballpark."
Mills arrived at the ballpark early Friday, taking a walk down memory lane, visiting with old friends.
He had been in the visiting clubhouse at Minute Maid Park in 2008 when he was a coach for Terry Francona with the Red Sox. This time there were stronger ties to the team in the home clubhouse.
"You spend almost three years with a lot of those players out there," he said. "Your heart is with those guys, because every day for six, seven months you're with them. It's weird. All of a sudden you're not with them anymore. It's kind of fun to come back and see them."
The Astros are in the middle of a total rebuilding process, but Mills does keep an eye on several of his former players.
"Do I follow the box scores?" Mills said. "No. But when you watch the MLB channel and watch the highlights to see how they're doing, there's no doubt [I root for them]."
Mills does not allow himself to take pride in the individual accomplishments of his former Astros.
"Pride is a strong word," he said. "You know how hard these guys have worked to improve and get better. You smile and say, 'Nice going.' You're happy to see them make progress."
Mills remained a man without ego or bitterness on his return. He was fired by the Astros on Aug. 18, 2012.
"You try to do the best you can, try to help these guys get better," he said. "I think that was our goal every day. I think we did that. You see these guys and you watch the progress, the scouting videos, and you see some of these guys doing well, you're rooting for them individually because you spent so much time with them.
"This being my first [managerial] job, you might look at it a little different. You learn and improve all the time. Would you do some things different? I would do a couple of things different. You hope you get better. This game is constantly changing.
"Being cynical doesn't help anybody. For 30 minutes after that Saturday night in August, maybe I was [cynical]. Then I realized that's not healthy to me at all. Or anyone else. That's over with, and let's move on."
Mills claimed he didn't give the Cleveland pitchers any advice on how to pitch to the Astros this weekend.
"Our advance staff does such a good job, I think I would only confuse them," he said. "The last thing I want to do is get in the way."
Mills did say that he helped the Indians' outfielders on how to play the bounces off the walls at Minute Maid Park, particularly off the scoreboard in left field and Tal's Hill in center.
Mills spent Saturday morning with his son Beau at a ranch in Orange, Texas, about 80 miles east of Houston, where Beau raises and trains bucking bulls.
"When I was a young kid in junior high school, I used to ride steers," Mills said. "No. 1, I wasn't very good at it, and No. 2, it took time away from baseball. And I didn't want to get hurt, because I enjoyed baseball so much, so I dropped it."
Mills admitted he doesn't miss the daily manager press conferences with the media.
"There's been more than one day when Terry goes out for his press conference and I say, 'Better you than me,'" laughed Mills.
Asdrubal exits game with left wrist contusion
HOUSTON -- Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera left Saturday night's game against the Houston Astros with a left wrist contusion.
Cabrera slipped on the steps walking from the clubhouse to the dugout before the game and used his left arm to break the fall. He still started and batted twice in the first inning of the Indians' 19-6 win. He singled off Philip Humber and scored, then grounded out off left-handed reliever Dallas Keuchel to end the inning.
"When he turned around [to bat] right-handed, it started to bother him," manager Terry Francona said.
X-rays were negative.
"It's a little sore right now," Cabrera said. "It's not a big deal. Everything's good. I don't feel like it was serious. A little sore. I don't think [I'll play Sunday]. I'll be back soon. Maybe Monday."
Myers to get arm checked out in Cleveland
HOUSTON -- Indians manager Terry Francona said that right-hander Brett Myers will go back to Cleveland on Sunday for evaluation after Myers complained of tendinitis in his right forearm after Friday night's game.
"We're sending him back to Cleveland and getting him looked at," Francona said before Saturday night's game against Houston. "Just to see what's going on and what we need to do."
Francona said there was a possibility that Myers may need to skip his next turn in the rotation. He is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against the White Sox in Chicago.
"We definitely need to find out what's going on," Francona said. "I give him credit. He'll go out there and give you everything he has. His velocity started to really drop off [Friday night]. He said to me he has this every spring and usually fights his way through it. That's why we want to get him looked at."
Myers pitched five innings Friday, giving up five hits and three earned runs in a 3-2 loss to the Astros. He surrendered back-to-back homers in the second inning, but settled down after that.
"I've been fighting some tendinitis in the flexor tendon," Myers said after the game. "My velocity went down. I don't know why. I don't feel any [pain] when I pitch."
Francona said he expected Myers to be a little sore Saturday, but still wanted to find out if there is a problem with his veteran pitcher.
Friday's loss dropped Myers' record to 0-3 with an 8.02 ERA.
The Indians also officially activated left-hander Scott Kazmir in time to start Saturday night's game against Houston. It was his first appearance of the season. He had been sidelined with a strained oblique suffered at the end of Spring Training.
To make room for Kazmir on the 25-man roster, the Indians optioned infielder Cord Phelps back to Triple-A Columbus. Phelps had been called up Tuesday when second baseman Jason Kipnis was sidelined with soreness in his elbow. Phelps went 0-for-8 in three games.
Catcher Lou Marson could rejoin the Indians as soon as Tuesday in Chicago, according to Francona. He was scheduled to catch seven innings in his rehab assignment Saturday night, and then DH Sunday.
Giambi embracing role as veteran mentor
HOUSTON -- If you're still playing in the Majors at 42 years old, you have the right to turn philosophical. Indians designated hitter Jason Giambi has certainly earned that.
Giambi said he expects to be able to help the Indians more in the clubhouse than on the field.
"I came here to help, to be a mentor," Giambi said. "We're grooming these guys to become the leaders of this ball club. I can still contribute [on the field], I can still swing the bat. But the most important thing is to keep these guys going in the right direction.
"I want to help them rebuild. They've had some tough years here in Cleveland. You need to wipe the slate clean and start over."
Giambi may not be the slugger he used to be, but manager Terry Francona has appreciated what Giambi has brought to the Indians.
"He's really a good leader," Francona said. "I've said since Spring Training, he's not a veteran, he's the veteran. He's a guy I've probably leaned on more already only two weeks into the season. He's probably more [than I expected]."
Giambi simply loves the game of baseball.
"That's what keeps me coming back," he said. "You don't get anywhere else in life where 25 guys drive in the same direction with one common goal. That's exciting. I love the game. I love the grind. It's like life. You can be a zero and turn into a hero real quick. You can have a tough week, then have an incredible week. Today's a new ball game. It doesn't matter how we played last night. We've got to win tonight."
The Indians are off to a 5-10 start entering Saturday, certainly worse than expected. Giambi can help keep the ship going in the right direction.
"We're pressing a little bit, trying to get that big hit," he said. "Everybody's trying to do a little too much. We have guys on base, and sometimes we just need a single instead of a homer. It's about doing the little things, moving guys over. Trying to keep adding on. We'll score some runs, but we don't do that in multiple innings.
"With two Wild Cards, every game matters now. You look back and say, 'We should have won this game.' It adds up. That could be the difference in going to the playoffs or not. That second Wild Card makes it interesting because you're never really out of the hunt -- if you can play some good baseball."
Giambi definitely wants to coach or manage when he finishes playing. He interviewed for the Colorado Rockies managerial job that went to Walt Weiss and turned down a few offers to be a coach or hitting instructor with several other clubs.
"Walt Weiss must be really good," Francona said.
So Giambi decided to keep on playing.
"I want to enjoy this while I can," he said. "Unfortunately, this game will let you know when it's time to walk away. Sometimes it's not your choice. I've been lucky enough and blessed enough to be in my 19th Major League season. And I'm going to enjoy every minute.
"Most of the guys I played with are managers now. It's exciting that I'm still able to play this game. Tony [La Russa] was my first manager and he's retired now. [Mark] McGwire's a hitting coach."
Giambi has been on postseason teams with Oakland and the Yankees, and through dismal years, too.
"I try not to get caught up in the ups and downs, because there's so many ups and downs in this game," he said. "Concentrate on the ingredients. Hit a good pitch, hit it hard, you'll get good results."
Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.