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Saturday, March 7, 2009


ZAMBRANO WANTS OPENING DAY START (9:23 p.m. ET)
Carlos Zambrano wants to start on opening day for the Chicago Cubs, and he's not shy about it.

"I care," Zambrano said Saturday during a 2-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. "When you're retired and you go home and your grandkids ask you what you did, for your own records it's good."

Cubs manager Lou Piniella said earlier in the day that the April 6 assignment against Houston will go to Zambrano or Ryan Dempster.

Zambrano was 14-6 with a 3.91 ERA last year, while Dempster finished 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA. Piniella said he would talk to both pitchers before making his decision.

-- Associated Press

STRAIN FORCES PELFREY TO MISS START (9:11 p.m. ET)
New York Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey will be out indefinitely with a muscle strain in his lower left leg.

He was examined by team doctors Saturday after feeling discomfort following a bullpen session Friday and was instructed to rest, which means he will miss his next scheduled start Monday.

Meanwhile, starter Dillon Gee threw two innings in the Mets' 7-5 loss to the Washington Nationals Saturday without allowing a hit or run. Only a walk spoiled his otherwise perfect outing, which included two strikeouts. Gee was reassigned to the team's minor league camp on Friday.

Manager Jerry Manuel expects 2B Luis Castillo to return to the lineup Sunday. He was pulled in the fifth inning of Friday's 5-4 win over the Cardinals with a tight left hamstring.

-- Associated Press

WANG BACK IN FORM AGAINST BRAVES (6:16 p.m. ET)
Chien-Ming Wang passed another test, and it had nothing to do with his pitching arm.

Wang allowed one run and three hits over three innings in the New York Yankees' 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

The right-hander missed the final 3 months of last season because of a right foot injury that occurred while he was running the bases during an interleague game against Houston on June 15.

-- Associated Press

CONTRERAS, COLON PROGRESSING IN WHITE SOX CAMP (3:20 p.m. ET)
Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon are scheduled to throw batting practice at Chicago White Sox camp Monday, the next step after each threw 55 pitches in a bullpen session Saturday without any problem.

"It was a very positive day," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "We're more and more excited about their chances to be ready to open the season."

It was the third bullpen session since Monday for Contreras and Colon. Without setbacks, they could see Cactus League action in about a week.

Contreras is more than three months ahead of schedule after rupturing his left Achilles' tendon last August. Colon is coming off offseason surgery to clean up some bone chips in his right elbow.

If Contreras and Colon are ready for Opening Day, that could fill out the White Sox rotation behind Mark Buehrle, John Danks and Gavin Floyd.

-- Associated Press

ZUMAYA'S SHOULDER SORENESS SAID NORMAL FOR SPRING (1:35 p.m. ET)
Detroit Tigers right-handed reliever Joel Zumaya will not throw for at least the next couple of days, following an exam of his right shoulder by Dr. James Andrews on Friday.

Tigers head trainer Kevin Rand said Andrews diagnosed Zumaya's rotator cuff with "normal spring-training soreness." And Tigers manager Jim Leyland expects Zumaya will be ready for Opening Day on April 6.

That's good news for the Tigers, considering how much trouble Zumaya has had with his shoulder. He underwent reconstructive surgery on the shoulder's AC joint in 2007, missed much of 2008 and was diagnosed with a stress fracture last fall.

"We wanted to make sure there was nothing more going on," Rand said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "To be honest, we wanted to reassure him that everything was OK.

"One thing with Joel: You've got to understand that he's gone through an awful lot. He's thinking, 'Hey, I want to make sure nothing more's going on,' " Rand said, according to the report. "And you know what? I don't have a problem with it. I want to make sure for him, too. So, that's what we went to do."

A YEAR TO REMEMBER (1:24 p.m. ET)
The Los Angeles Angels are correcting their media guide after Vladimir Guerrero let slip that he's actually 34 years old, not 33.

The missing year was uncovered by Yahoo! Sports columnst Tim Brown, who was working on a story about Guerrero. He had asked the outfielder to respond to a quote from Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who said the surgery Guerrero had last fall to clean out and repair his right knee could "point to a guy maybe turning back the clock a couple of years."

When that was posed to Guerrero through an interpreter, he responded, "I feel good. I can't say [like] 25, because, you know, I'm 34. But I feel a lot better. That's where I'm at right now."

The Angels had listed Guerrero's birth date as Feb. 9, 1976. But Guerrero admitted to a team executive later in the day that he was born on the same date in 1975, making him 34, according to the Los Angeles Times.

'THE TEAM TO BEAT,' PART THREE
Perhaps Jimmy Rollins should have copyrighted the phrase, "We're the team to beat."

Because two years after the Philadelphia Phillies shortstop uttered those words, his confident prediction has skipped leagues and time zones, to the AL West. This time, it's the Los Angeles Angels' Torii Hunter making confident predictions.

"I still think we're the team to beat. I know we are," Hunter said before Friday's Angels-Giants game, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

But what about the Oakland Athletics loading up their lineup with Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra?

"Good pitching will beat good hitting any day. Don't forget that," Hunter said, according to the report, noting an Angels' rotation featuring John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders and a bullpen that added former Colorado Rockies closer Brian Fuentes.

Will the A's respond? Stay tuned ...

BRAVES' ANDERSON SIDELINED BY PULLED CALF (10:45 a.m. ET)
Baseball injuries can come out of nowhere. But even that doesn't explain what happened to new Atlanta Braves outfielder Garret Anderson on Friday.

Anderson, who signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Braves, was scratched from Friday's game against the Houston Astros after pulling his right calf muscle -- while running in warmups.

"I've never done anything like this before, so I don't have any history with it," Anderson said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Just have to see how it responds to treatment in the next few days before you can have a guess-timate, but it's tissue that needs to heal, and there's no set time on that."

According to the report, it will be several days before Anderson knows how long he'll be out of the lineup.

"I've been working out fine," Anderson added, according to the report. "And then something out-of-the-ordinary freak happens."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.