CLE@HOU: Reynolds grabs grounder for the final out

HOUSTON -- Cleveland's Mark Reynolds returned home Sunday, starting his first game of the season at third base.

Reynolds entered Sunday's game hitting .296, leading the Indians in homers with six and RBIs with 17.

"Last night when [Nick Swisher] hit that ball off his knee, I was going to take him out," manager Terry Francona said. "I said if you finish this game, I'll DH you tomorrow. Then I had to figure out how to do it.

"So we moved Mark to third, and I think he's kind of excited. We'll move [catcher Carlos] Santana to first. I think Santana's excited about it. It gives him a day off for his legs from squatting. I think it will work."

That also gave third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and designated hitter Jason Giambi the day off Sunday.

Reynolds hit a three-run homer in Cleveland's eight-run first inning Saturday night and finished the game 2-for-4 with a walk, driving in four runs.

Reynolds had started 15 of Cleveland's 16 games this season, six at first base and nine as a designated hitter.

Reynolds also returned to the No. 5 spot in the batting order Sunday, where he hit earlier in the year. He had been hitting seventh.

"I don't care where I hit, as long as I've got a jersey and I'm in the lineup," he said.

Reynolds started at third base for four years with Arizona, then was traded to Baltimore, where he moved to first base.

Indians complete first stop of three-city road trip

HOUSTON -- Every player, manager and coach goes through it, those 10-game, three-city road trips that seem as if they never end.

The Cleveland Indians completed leg one of such a trip Sunday in Houston before moving on for three games at the Chicago White Sox and four at Kansas City. They won't play home again until Tuesday, April 30 vs. Philadelphia.

"Spending that much time away from home, definitely it's a long time," said Indians outfielder Drew Stubbs. "You deal with it. Having [those long trips] earlier in the season as opposed to later helps out as well."

The Indians are off Thursday before beginning the four-game series in Kansas City.

"We have a day off after the Chicago series," Stubbs said. "It gives you a chance to catch your breath."

The toughest part of the road trips can be the late arrival times in the next city. The Indians didn't make it to their hotel in Houston until 3 a.m. after playing a night game Thursday at home against Boston.

Houston beat Cleveland, 3-2, Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

"You don't want to make excuses, it might be safe to say it might have contributed to some of the lackluster play we had in the first game," Stubbs said. "You get some residual effects of the flight, getting in late and not sleeping particularly well.

"You get enough sleep," said Stubbs, who woke up Friday morning around 10. "But it's not the ideal rest you normally get. It's the nature of the game."

The Indians certainly looked better rested Saturday night when the whipped Houston 19-6.

Veteran Jason Giambi said the destinations play a part in how tough the long road trip is.

"We go to Chicago and Kansas City after this," Giambi said. "It's relatively close. You're not spending a lot of time in the air. We've got a day off in one of the cities. That definitely helps. I've been on some [trips] that go to Boston to Florida to Seattle."

Giambi said the travel was extra difficult when he played for the Yankees.

"You're always playing getaway night games, because everybody wants the TV and the gate," he said. "You're getting in [to the next city] at 3, 4 o'clock in the morning. That's tough."

The Indians must endure two more three-city trips this season, going to the Yankees, Detroit and Texas in June and to Minnesota, Oakland and the Angels in August.

Giambi liked the idea of getting one of the long trips out of the way early in the year.

The travel schedule didn't matter to manager Terry Francona.

"We just go where they tell us to go," Francona said. "As long as I've got enough underwear, I'm good to go."