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Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Nen on DL while Schmidt to miss a start

Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The San Francisco Giants placed closer Robb Nen and reliever Scott Eyre on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday.

However, ace Jason Schmidt will not have to go on the disabled list. Schmidt, though, will miss his first start because of shoulder soreness, which is unrelated to his offseason elbow surgery.

The Giants also signed infielder Deivi Cruz, right-hander Dave Veres and right-hander Mike Crudale to minor league contracts.

Nen, a three-time All-Star, is trying to recover from three shoulder operations that caused him to miss the entire 2003 season. He hasn't thrown off a mound in more than a week because of rotator cuff tendinitis.

The move is retroactive to March 26.

Eyre strained his lower back during an 8-5 win over the Oakland Athletics in a split-squad game last Friday. He believes he has a bulging disk and received a painkilling shot Sunday to reduce inflammation. His move is retroactive to March 27.

It's expected to take two weeks for the left-hander to heal.

"I knew I was going to go on the DL," Eyre said. "There's still fluid in there."

Nen, who had 43 saves and a 2.20 ERA in 2002, played catch on flat ground Sunday but had his workload cut back last week because of discomfort in his right shoulder.

Left-hander Kirk Rueter will start on Opening Day at Houston, and Matt Herges will assume the closer's job.

Schmidt threw a strong 15-minute bullpen session Monday and is scheduled to pitch two or three innings in a minor league game Wednesday.

"Nothing has changed," the right-hander said of his timetable to return. "I had a good bullpen the time before that and have felt good the past five days. They knew I didn't want to go on the disabled list, but sometimes it's not your choice. ... As long as I don't have a setback or re-strain it."

Pitching coach Dave Righetti is encouraged by Schmidt's progress.

"He'll pitch tomorrow and go from there," Righetti said. "We'll see how it goes in San Francisco. He'll throw on the side there and get plugged in. We still need to get his arm strength back to the point he can pitch in a major league game and go five innings."

Cruz, a seven-year veteran, started the spring with Tampa Bay. He originally signed with the Giants in April 1993 as a non-drafted free agent. Cruz batted .250 with a career-high 14 home runs and 65 RBIs as Baltimore's starting shortstop last season.

The 37-year-old Veres opened spring training with Houston. The 10-year veteran pitched in 31 games last year for the Chicago Cubs, going 2-1 with a 4.68 ERA.

He had surgery on his shoulder in November.

"I pitched eight innings this spring after surgery," he said. "It was kind of a shock when they let me go. They had a lot of young pitchers and not much experience and I thought they could use a veteran in the bullpen. The Giants were on my list this winter. I understand the situation here. If I have to go to Triple-A, that's fine. I'm preparing for that so I won't be surprised."

Crudale is 3-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 71 games spanning two major league seasons with St. Louis and Milwaukee.