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Derek Lowe got off to a solid start after a rough first season in Atlanta, pitching two hitless innings in the Braves' 11-8 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday.The Braves new closer, Billy Wagner, did not fare so well. He gave up three hits and two runs in the third inning.
Making his spring debut, Joel Zumaya allowed three earned runs in two innings of the Detroit Tigers' 17-7 win over the Houston Astros on Friday."He's unusual," manager Jim Leyland said of Zumaya. "He gets hit when he pitches down in the zone. He's better pitching it high because, with his speed, the batters know they need to stick the bat down low to hit him. They can't when he's high." Zumaya, who throws near 100 mph, has struggled with shoulder injuries since pitching 62 games in 2006. Since then, he's pitched little more than he did in all of 2006, but he's still expected to be a key setup man in the bullpen for new closer Jose Valverde. Zumaya and Valverde are expected to fill the void left when Fernando Rodney left for the Angels via free agency. Leyland said he can put up with Zumaya's well-documented theatrics as long as he gets the ball over the plate. "He's like a bull on a chain," Leyland said. "As far as his personality, he's an excited guy and I don't want him to change a thing. If he can keep his pitches under control, we're all fine with it."
Justin Upton began earning his massive new contract in a big way Friday.Upton hit a sixth-inning grand slam as the Arizona Diamondbacks lost 8-7 to the Chicago Cubs on Friday. The outfielder signed a six-year, $52 million deal with Arizona on Thursday.
Brad Penny's debut in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform was rocky, yet he was pleased with his first outing of the spring.Penny pitched two innings, allowing three runs and six hits in the Cardinals' 7-3 loss to a New York Mets' split squad Friday. Three of those hits were soft flyballs that landed just beyond the infield. "I worked on some stuff today," Penny said. "I probably threw more sinkers in the first inning than I have in a game in probably my career. I'm just trying to work on a sinker and get command of it." Penny, who signed a one-year, $7.5 million contract to join his favorite childhood team, threw 46 pitches, 29 in the first inning. "I thought he threw the ball well and had a good day's work," La Russa said. Penny threw for a short time in the bullpen after his outing to correct a mechanical flaw.
After missing 18 months because of shoulder problems that required surgery, Jeff Francis was back on the mound again. He gave up four runs, four hits and two walks in two innings of the Colorado Rockies' 7-4, split-squad loss to the San Francisco Giants on Friday."It felt good to get out there and get the blood pumping against a familiar lineup. Physically, I felt good," said Francis, who last pitched on Sept. 12, 2008, and finished with a dismal 4-10 record after going 17-9 in 2007. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Francis tried to throw with an easy motion, mainly fastballs. "I did throw a few changeups, but mostly I would throw five or six [fastballs] in a row, even behind in the count. That's pretty unusual," Francis said. Francis said he was uncertain when he might throw again, but if he is trying to stick to pitching every fifth day, his next start would come on Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals in Tucson.
Zack Greinke is off to a stellar start.The Cy Young Award winner pitched three scoreless innings Friday and the Kansas City Royals beat the Texas Rangers 4-2. Greinke, who had a 9.21 ERA in eight spring training games last year, threw just 27 pitches, 19 for strikes. He struck out three and walked none. David Murphys two-out single in the first was the only hit Greinke allowed.
Veteran pitcher Jason Grilli and promising rookie Jordan Brown were injured at the Cleveland Indians' camp in Goodyear, Ariz.They were taken for MRI examinations and the Indians expect to issue an update Saturday. Grilli, a right-hander in camp as a non-roster free agent, had his right leg immobilized as he rode a cart to the trainer's room after getting hurt during agility drills on Friday. Brown, a 26-year-old first baseman/outfielder who won the Triple-A International League batting title with a .336 average last season, got into a cart on his own after being injured while shagging fly balls.
Florida Marlins catcher John Baker has been scratched from their game against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., because of tenderness in his throwing arm.The ailment is not considered serious, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said Baker probably will be kept out of action Saturday as a precaution. Minor league catcher Brett Hayes replaced Baker in the starting lineup Friday against the Mets. Ronny Paulino will start Saturday against the Cardinals in Jupiter.
The Los Angeles Dodgers suddenly have a logjam of outfielders that could end up affecting the pitching staff come Opening Day.With the signing of veteran Garret Anderson late Wednesday, the Dodgers could be in position to have five outfielders on their 25-man roster once spring training ends. That scenario might require the Dodgers to carry 11 pitchers into the season opener, instead of the 12 manager Joe Torre had originally projected. "You think you're going to take 12 pitchers. Is 11 an option? I guess it is," Torre said Thursday, a day after Anderson was given a minor-league deal with an invitation to major-league camp. "We have an awful lot of decisions to make but we can't really start making them until we get deep into the games. I don't bother thinking about it right now. I've written it down. I'm just happy I don't have to do that today or tomorrow."
New York Yankees designated hitter Nick Johnson will miss his second straight game because of a stiff lower back.Johnson was hurt during batting practice Thursday when his spikes got caught on the mats used in the cage. He said his back "loosened up" after an exercise program before Friday's game against Tampa Bay. He doesn't think the injury is serious. Johnson was signed during the offseason to take the spot of 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, now with the Los Angeles Angels. Catcher Jorge Posada was in Friday's lineup as the DH.
It appears Erick Aybar will get the first shot at winning the Los Angeles Angels' leadoff spot. Aybar led off against the White Sox in Thursday's Cactus League opener.Maicer Izturis, who is also in consideration for the job, batted fifth. Aybar was 0 for 2 with a walk and scored the first run on Juan Rivera's third-inning single. Izturis was hitless in three trips to the plate.