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Friday, March 20, 2009
Spring Training Blog: March 20


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GRIFFEY HITS FIRST HR OF SPRING (9:21 p.m. ET)
Ken Griffey Jr. homered for the first time since rejoining Seattle, but the Mariners lost to the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 Friday.

The 39-year Griffey, who signed with Seattle on Feb. 18, was batting just .105 before his two-run shot off Brewers left-hander Lindsey Gulin in the bottom of the eighth pulled the Mariners to 6-5.

"It stirs a lot of feelings that he still has got some things," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "To me, the ability for him to pull the ball, lately his body's been getting out there [and] sometimes that makes everything come together."

ZITO SHARPENS HOOK (8:30 p.m. ET)
Barry Zito's curveball was more on target, and so was his pitching line.

Zito allowed six hits and three runs, one earned, in six innings, and the San Francisco Giants beat the Chicago White Sox 10-3 on Friday. He walked one and struck out three. He lowered his ERA to 5.49.

VLAD, BYRNES SHOW UP FOR SPRING (8:26 p.m. ET)
Vladimir Guerrero made his first start of spring training and impressed his manager in the Los Angeles Angels' 6-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes made his first appearance, too.

Guerrero, who had offseason knee surgery, played right field and was hitless in two at-bats. Manager Mike Scioscia said he hoped to have Guerrero in the lineup for a few more swings as the designated hitter Saturday against Milwaukee.

Byrnes' season was cut short in late June by a torn left hamstring. On Friday, He started in center field and went 0-for-3.

TEX HOMERS, HUGHES SHINES (7:11 p.m. ET)
Mark Teixeira hit his first spring training home run for the New York Yankees, a solo drive off Joe Nathan in a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday.

Teixeira, a notoriously slow starter, was 11-for-28 (.393) with two RBIs before his sixth-inning homer. He went 0-for-2 hitting right-handed against lefty Glen Perkins before switching to left-handed against Nathan.

Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes gave up one run and three hits in 4 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out none.

He lowered his ERA to 2.19 but likely won't have a rotation spot because the Yankees signed free agents CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and intend to start Joba Chamberlain.

"He's pitched well all spring," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Obviously, there's a chance he won't be with us. But he's growing up as a pitcher. He's throwing the ball well. It's a numbers game for the starters. We moved Joba into the rotation. We feel good about our rotation. But he learned a lot from last year. He looks at this as a challenge."

STOMACH SIDELINES HARDEN (5:51 p.m. ET)
The Cubs scratched right-handed pitcher Rich Harden from Friday's scheduled start because of a stomach illness.

In place of Harden, the Cubs called up right-hander Mitch Atkins from their minor league camp.

Harden, 27, has been brought along slowly this spring because of his history of shoulder problems. He has made two starts so far, going 0-0 with a 5.79 ERA.

STRAIN? WHAT STRAIN? (5:48 p.m. ET)
Dustin Pedroia had a hit and an RBI in his first game since straining an abdominal muscle 10 days ago while playing for the United States in the World Baseball Classic. The Red Sox beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-4.

Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew was taken for X-rays after being hit by a pitch from Donnie Veal on his right hand in the fifth inning. The Red Sox said he has a bruise and is day to day.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona skipped the game to attend his son Nick's graduation from Marine Corps Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Va. Bench coach Brad Mills ran the club.

DUCHSCHERER TRIES IT OUT (5:39 p.m. ET)
Oakland Athletics ace Justin Duchscherer tested his sore right elbow Friday, throwing 25 pitches in the bullpen.

"I'm excited, because it's the first time I've thrown with some velocity without pain," he said. "That's certainly a positive sign."

Duchscherer, who had not thrown in more than three weeks, threw all of his pitches at about 90 percent full velocity. He is not sure what the next step will be for him, but he is at least a week from getting into an exhibition game.

POSADA, PETTITTE IN MINOR LEAGUE MATCHUP (5:30 p.m. ET)
Jorge Posada made his first three throws to second base on stolen base attempts without any problems during a minor league intrasquad game.

"It was good," Posada said, rehabilitating from right shoulder surgery last July 30. "The last one was the best one I threw. Based on the way I felt coming up, staying back and throwing through the bag instead of throwing to the bag. It still had some carry when it got to second base."

Posada and left-hander Andy Pettitte played for Double-A Trenton against Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at the Yankees' minor league complex.

"He looked good," Pettitte said. "He said he felt good, that's the important thing. He looked normal to me. I know it's a battle for him getting off that surgery and coming back from it. I think this is another step."

Runners were successful on all three stolen base attempts, although on two of the chances runners got strong jumps on Pettitte. The other try resulted in a close play.

Pettitte threw 65 pitches. He will start another minor league game on the Yankees' off day next Wednesday.

NIESE OPTIONED, AMONG OTHER METS MOVES (2:49 p.m. ET)
In an indication the Mets are leaning to selecting Livan Hernandez as their fifth starter, New York optioned left-hander Jonathan Niese to the minor leagues Friday.

Niese, 22, went 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in three spring training appearances. He was competing with Hernandez, Freddy Garcia and Tim Redding for the final spot in the Mets' starting rotation.

Redding (sore shoulder) appears headed to the disabled list, and Garcia has a 16.71 ERA. Hernandez has been the most consistent starter of the group, compiling a 3.07 ERA in 14 2/3 innings, and he appears likely to join Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and Oliver Perez in the rotation.

New York also optioned catcher Robinson Cancel and right-handed pitcher Connor Robertson to minor league camp. Pitchers Kyle Snyder, Matt DeSalvo, Jon Switzer, Heriberto Rueles and Casey Fossum were reassigned to the minor league camp.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.