Print and Go Back MLB Spring Training [Print without images]

Saturday, March 28, 2009

For more spring training news that could impact your fantasy team, check out our daily camp notes.
• Sign up, play for free
Tim Lincecum got in some work on the mound in a minor league warmup against the Los Angeles Angels.

The NL Cy Young winner, trying to improve his mechanics, allowed one run on five hits and struck out six in five innings Saturday night for the San Francisco Giants.

San Francisco held Lincecum out of the team's game against San Diego because he could face the Padres twice in the first three weeks of the regular season. Lincecum is scheduled to start the first game of the Bay Area series against Oakland on Thursday before facing Milwaukee in the Giants' regular-season opener April 7 at AT&T Park.

"I can't emphasize it enough, the rhythm thing," Lincecum said. "I just haven't found a consistent track to keep holding onto that rhythm. It's a little frustrating, but I'm glad I got a little bit more time before the season starts. [Spring training] is always a matter of trying to get everything back. It's a matter of getting your body used to the games, the grind, everything. Just taking all that in.

"Every year, it's trying to get that again and again."

Jason Hammel made his case to win a spot in Tampa Bay's starting rotation, tossing five scoreless innings in the Rays' 5-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.

Hammel walked Willy Taveras to start the game, but picked him off first base for the first out. Hammel sailed from there, allowing just two hits and striking out four.

"I just went back to the aggressive approach that I was using early in camp," Hammel said. "It was basically just attack. I wasn't going to walk guys today. The one walk to Willy was pretty close."

Manager Joe Maddon was pleased with the way Hammel commanded his fastball, pounding it low in the strike zone. He also liked the way the right-hander was able to shake off his previous outing against the Pirates, in which he allowed four runs on six hits and walked five in four innings against the Pirates.

Hammel is competing with Jeff Niemann for the final spot with the runner-up headed to the bullpen as the long man.

John Lackey received a cortisone shot to hasten the healing process for his sore right elbow Saturday.

"It's difficult to quantify but I don't think it's anything major," said Dr. Lewis Yokum, who flew in to examine Lackey. "Obviously it's frustrating for him."

Yokum said the current elbow strain is unrelated to the elbow injury that caused Lackey to miss the first six weeks of last season. This strain is on the inside of the elbow while last year's was on the outside.

Lackey, who will almost certainly open the season on the disabled list, will rest the arm for at least three to four days. Yokum said it's a coin flip as to how long he'll need once he begins throwing again. "Hopefully we got the elbow quieted down. It could be a couple weeks. But if we didn't get rid of the inflammation, it could be longer.''

With Ervin Santana (elbow) and Kelvim Escobar (labrum) also likely to open the year on the d.l., Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, Dustin Mosely, Nick Adenhart and Shane Loux are the probable rotation when the season opens.

Escobar threw 40 pitches and retired the first 10 batters he faced in a minor league game Saturday.

-- writer Jim Caple

Shairon Martis and Jordan Zimmermann have won the last two spots in the Washington Nationals' starting rotation.

Martis will start the year on the big league roster, but Zimmermann will start the year in the minors before his first start against Florida on April 19.

The Nationals also placed outfielder Wily Mo Pena on waivers Saturday, and reassigned infielder Jose Castillo and outfielder Corey Patterson to minor league camp.

Catcher Javier Valentin also was reassigned, but opted out to become a free agent. Pitcher Collin Balester also was reassigned to Triple-A Syracuse.


Catcher Ronny Paulino was traded Saturday for the second time in 24 hours and the third time since December, and he's now with the Florida Marlins.

The San Francisco Giants sent Paulino to Florida for minor-league right-hander Hector Correa. The deal was announced Saturday after Paulino was traded Friday night to the Giants from the Philadelphia Phillies for left-handed pitcher Jack Taschner.

Paulino is expected to share playing time with John Baker. Paulino was traded to the Phillies from Pittsburgh last Dec. 10 for catcher Jason Jaramillo. He had spent his entire career with the Pirates and hit .212 last year while being limited to 40 games because of a sprained ankle.

Derek Jeter bruised a knuckle on his left pinkie during a collision at first base in the first inning of the New York Yankees' game against Atlanta on Saturday, but remained in the game.

He played three innings in the field, and the team said Jeter is fine.

The Yankees captain ran into Braves first baseman Greg Norton, who moved along the first-base line to catch a throw from second baseman Martin Prado after Prado fielded Jeter's grounder.

Cincinnati Reds right-hander Aaron Harang got a quicker start on his offseason conditioning program.

The stocky starter lost 33 pounds in an effort to make sure last year's hideous 6-17 season didn't happen again.

The 6-foot-7 pitcher is noticeably thinner around the middle. During his career-worst season in 2008, he topped out at 284 pounds. He was hurt for nearly a month, with a strained right forearm disabling him from mid-July to early August.

"That was a tough year on him last year," manager Dusty Baker said. "Different people handle those tough years in a different way. But I think he really dedicated himself over the winter. You don't lose that weight in a month. You dedicate yourself for three or four months. It's really tough to do that.

"It shows you how badly he wanted to return to excellence."

Once glance says it all.

The Cleveland Indians optioned outfielder Trevor Crowe and utility player Chris Gimenez to Triple-A Columbus of the International League on Saturday.

Crowe, drafted in the first round out of Arizona in 2005, lost a battle to veterans Tony Graffanino and Josh Barfield for the final position-player spot on the roster. The switch-hitter batted .289 with one homer and three RBIs in 17 spring exhibition games.

The 26-year-old Gimenez hit .357 with two homers and seven RBIs in 20 games at catcher, first base, third base, left field and right field.

"He's put himself on the radar," Wedge said of Gimenez, a 19th-round pick out of Nevada in 2004.

The Pirates reduced their spring training roster to 37 players Saturday by optioning outfielder Steve Pearce and catcher Robinzon Diaz to Triple-A Indianapolis and assigning infielder Anderson Machado to their minor league camp.

Diaz was sent down after the Pirates settled on Jason Jaramillo as catcher Ryan Doumit's backup. Jaramillo was acquired during the offseason from the Phillies for former Pirates starting catcher Ronny Paulino, was dealt by Philadelphia to San Francisco on Friday for reliever Jack Taschner.

Pearce was unable to break into a now-crowded outfield that added Eric Hinske and Craig Monroe during the offseason and is expected to play first base at Indianapolis. Pearce hit .212 this spring with no homers and three RBIs.

Don't count on seeing starter Jeremy Bonderman or reliever Joel Zumaya on Detroit's active roster when the Tigers start the regular season.

"In my personal opinion, it's highly unlikely that [Bonderman] will be ready to start the season," manager Jim Leyland said Saturday in Dunedin, Fla., where the Tigers were playing the Blue Jays.

Leyland said the same goes for Zumaya, who has yet to pitch in an actual game this spring. Zumaya threw in a minor-league intrasquad game on Saturday, but the team didn't disclose the results of that outing.

Bonderman is scheduled to start on Sunday in Lakeland and throw 50 pitches against the Braves.

Last season, the Tigers unsuccessfully tried to bring Bonderman and Zumaya back from injuries. It didn't work, and there won't be a repeat of that strategy this year, Leyland said.

"We've gotta use our brains [with Bonderman]," Leyland said. "The same goes for Zumaya. We're not going to rush them back. ... I've had enough of that. We don't want to go through that again."

If Bonderman isn't ready for Opening Day, Zach Miner is likely to wind up in the Tigers' rotation. And 20-year-old Rick Porcello, a highly-touted prospect, is still very much in the mix for a roster spot.

How much? Leyland, rather than take the bus from Lakeland to Dunedin on Saturday morning, stayed behind to watch Porcello throw a bullpen session, then drove to Dunedin on his own.

Leyland said he wanted to have a few words with Porcello. "I just wanted to talk to him. I wanted to make a few comments. I think that was really important," he said.

-- baseball writer Jayson Stark


John Lackey is doubtful to start for the Angels on Opening Day after an MRI revealed inflammation in his throwing elbow. Lackey was expected to start the season on the disabled list.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Friday that "right now, it's definitely unlikely" Lackey will be ready for the April 6 game against the Oakland Athletics, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Lackey joins Ervin Santana, out with a sprained elbow ligament, and Kelvim Escobar, who is rehabbing from shoulder surgery, as Angels starters recovering from injury.

"We have starting pitching depth, but right now we're stretching it as far as we're comfortable with," Scioscia said, according to the newspaper.

The Boston Red Sox will send Josh Beckett to the mound on Opening Day against the Tampa Bay Rays, manager Terry Francona said Saturday. James Shields will oppose Beckett in the opener, on Monday, April 6 at Fenway Park. On Wednesday, the Red Sox will start Jon Lester against the Rays' Scott Kazmir.

On Thursday, Daisuke Matsuzaka will go for Boston against Tampa Bay's Matt Garza.

Francona also said that Lester and Matsuzaka will start a pair of exhibition games April 3-4 against the New York Mets at their new home, Citi Field.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.