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Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Right-hander returning ahead of schedule

Associated Press

New York Yankees: Jeff Weaver has lost his job in the Yankees' starting rotation to Jose Contreras. By the end of the week, Weaver could lose his roster spot, too.

Contreras, sidelined since early June by a strained right shoulder, will return Sunday and start against the Baltimore Orioles. Yankees manager Joe Torre said Weaver would either be sent to the bullpen or to the minor leagues until rosters expand Sept. 1.

"That's what happens when you're here,'' Torre said after the decision was announced Wednesday. "We have, lucky for me, a lot of people who are capable of doing things.''

Contreras, who went on the disabled list June 7, had been slated to make another minor league rehabilitation start Thursday. But the Yankees decided he was ready to return after he allowed two hits and struck out 15 Saturday in seven shutout innings for the Class-A Staten Island Yankees.

"Like I've said before, I'm taking it all as a growing experience,'' Weaver said while seated and facing his locker, reporters forming a semicircle behind him. "I've got no problem. I'll go get my work done and continue to try to help this team win. ... I figured it would happen for the postseason, anyway.''

Weaver is 7-9 with a 5.80 ERA in 23 starts and two relief appearances this season. He has struggled even more lately, going 2-1 with an 8.61 ERA in August.

Montreal Expos: The Expos signed third baseman Todd Zeile on Wednesday, three days after the 15-year veteran was released by the New York Yankees.

Zeile, who turns 38 on Sept. 9, has homered for a record 10 major league teams and has 239 career home runs. He has been to the playoffs with three different clubs, getting to his only World Series three years ago with the New York Mets. Montreal is his 11th major league team.

"I remember he was a tough out, a good run producer and a guy who did his best in clutch situations,'' Expos manager Frank Robinson said. "It just makes us a better team, I think. It gives me more options, and we can do more things. He'll give us a little bit more offense at that position.''

Zeile batted .210 with six homers and 28 RBI in 66 games this season with the Yankees, and was 0-for-10 as a pinch-hitter.

Anaheim Angels: The Angels put shortstop David Eckstein on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday and called up Trent Durrington from Triple-A Salt Lake City.

Eckstein has nerve irritation in his right hamstring, a condition that was discovered when he had an MRI on his lower back on Monday. He was put on the DL retroactive to Aug. 19.

Eckstein was hitting .302 since the All-Star break and was at .254 overall. His .984 fielding percentage is second among AL shortstops to Alex Rodriguez of Texas.

Eckstein joints fellow starters Darin Erstad (hamstring), Troy Glaus (shoulder) and Brad Fullmer (knee) on the disabled list.

Durrington batted. 304 with seven homers, 54 RBI and 35 stolen bases for Salt Lake City. He appeared with the Angels in 1999 and 2000.

Cincinnati Reds: The Reds recalled infielder Ryan Freel from Triple-A Louisville to fill the roster spot of third baseman Brandon Larson, who is out with a shoulder ailment.

Freel hit .274 with three home runs, 12 RBI and 25 stolen bases during 54 games with Louisville. He batted .262 in 18 games during three earlier stints with the Reds.

He was to be in uniform for Cincinnati's game Wednesday night at Arizona.

Larson went on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a strain and inflammation in his left shoulder.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers claimed right-handed pitcher John Ennis off waivers from the Atlanta Braves and optioned him to Triple-A Toledo.

Ennis was 2-11 with a 5.56 ERA in 15 starts and 28 appearances at Triple-A Richmond this season. He pitched once last year for the Braves, allowing two runs on five hits in four innings.

To make room for Ennis on the 40-man roster, Detroit designated right-hander Tyler Walker for assignment. Walker was 2-9 with a 4.63 ERA at Toledo.

The Tigers also signed catcher Cody Collet, a sixth-round selection in this year's draft. Detroit has signed 14 of its first 16 picks, including Kyle Sleeth, the third overall selection.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.