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Saturday, March 24, 2007
Around the Cactus League

Associated Press

Kansas City Royals: The Royals optioned shortstop Angel Berroa, the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year, to Triple-A Omaha on Saturday.

The demotion came one day after the Royals acquired Tony Pena Jr. in a trade with the Atlanta Braves. Manager Buddy Bell said Pena would be his starting shortstop.

Berroa, 29, has struggled since his rookie season and showed little sign of improvement in spring training this year.

"It's not something he was happy about, obviously," Bell said. "Angel is going to be a good player again. He's a good kid and works hard. He had all the ingredients to get better. He knows what he needs to do."

Berroa hit .287 and led AL rookies with 92 runs and ranked third with 163 hits and 21 stolen bases. His 17 home runs and 73 RBIs were the most by a rookie shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra hit 30 homers with 98 RBIs in 1997 with the Boston Red Sox.

Berroa hasn't come close to approaching his rookie season again. He hit only .234 last season with 28 extra-base hits. The past two years, he has had more errors than walks -- 18 errors and 14 walks in 2006 and 25 errors and 18 walks in 2005.

Elsewhere in the Cactus League:

San Francisco Giants: One Barry looked great, the other not so good. Neither cared too much about their results.

Barry Zito pitched four sharp innings on short rest and Barry Bonds was 0-for-3 with two called strikeouts in the Giants' 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Zito worked on three days' rest after throwing in a minor league game against an Angels Class-A team Tuesday. This way, he is set up to pitch Thursday's exhibition game back home against the Seattle Mariners before taking the mound opening day April 2 to face the San Diego Padres.

The 42-year-old Bonds struck out looking to end the first and briefly argued with plate umpire Doug Eddings, then was retired on a called third strike again in the fourth and let Eddings have it again.

"It was fun," Bonds said afterward, laughing in the clubhouse. "I've never evaluated my springs."

He made an athletic catch in foul territory in the fourth on a hard-hit ball by Aramis Ramirez, who led off the second with a homer against Zito. Bonds lined out to a shifted shortstop in the seventh.

Chicago White Sox: White Sox rookie John Danks got a pleasant surprise Saturday when he was summoned into manager Ozzie Guillen's office.

He got word he'd won the job as Chicago's fifth starter.

"I thought I was going to the other side," Danks said. "It's usually not good when you get called in, but I'm excited about it. Now I have to go out there and do the job."

What did Guillen tell him?

"He said welcome to the team and go out there and keep doing what you've been doing," Danks said. "I've been attacking the strike zone, and [he] said I've shown him I'm fearless. That's the type of pitcher I am."

Danks threw four shutout innings Friday against Colorado to lock up the fifth spot.

Milwaukee Brewers: For the first several weeks of spring, the old, reliable Derrick Turnbow seemed to be back. On Saturday, the wild Turnbow of late last year showed up.

The Brewers reliever, who had not allowed a run in seven outings, walked two batters in the eighth inning and then allowed a three-run homer in a 5-2 loss to the San Diego Padres.

Walks were a problem for starter Chris Capuano, too. After the lefty breezed through five innings, he walked the first three batters in the sixth. Josh Bard then hit a two-run single.

"I don't like giving games away like we did today," said Brewers manager Ned Yost. "'Cappy' had a bad sixth and Turnbow had a bad eighth. Those are guys that are going to be on your team. Those hurt more than some of the other guys that probably aren't going to be on your team, having bad innings."

Turnbow allowed three runs in 2-3 of an inning. He had allowed three hits and two walks in seven scoreless innings coming into the game.

Los Angeles Angels: Angels right-hander Kelvim Escobar left Saturday's game after two innings when he strained the lower left side of his back during an 11-1 Colorado victory.

Escobar reached to his left on Steve Finley's ground ball to second, which he beat out for a single. Escobar allowed one run and three hits in his fourth start.

"It felt like a cramp on my left side," Escobar said. "I think it's like a back spasm."

Escobar said he had been checked out and felt better by the time reporters spoke to him about 45 minutes after leaving the game. He expects to make his next start against the Dodgers and is slated to start the second game of the regular season.