Category archive: Randy Johnson

null

March, 18, 2009
03/18/09
12:35
PM ET
WHITE SOX ON LOOKOUT FOR LEADOFF (9:20 p.m. ET)
The Chicago White Sox are still looking for their leadoff batter.

For more spring training news that could impact your fantasy team, check out our daily camp notes.
• Sign up, play for free

Manager Ozzie Guillen said he and his staff spent "hours" discussing the subject before DeWayne Wise went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in that spot for the White Sox in a 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.

"I wish I had the answer right now," Guillen said. "You'll see a lot of teams struggle looking for leadoff guys. Not many people in baseball have the ideal leadoff guy, the igniter, the guy who can make things happen."

Other than Wise, the White Sox are considering Jerry Owens for the top spot in the lineup. Both players are also competing for the starting center field job. Another possibility is second baseman Chris Gets, who went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .364.

Wise, who got off to a great start but has faded a bit lately, said he is trying to be more selective at the plate so he can draw walks. But he says "it's kind of tough to do that," because he's not yet an established player who can afford to pass up good pitches.

"It's tough because I'm not like a Jermaine Dye or a Jim Thome Those guys know they're going to be here," Wise said. "I know I got to go up there and hit. At the same time, I want to be able to get on base and draw walks."

HERNANDEZ TAKING CHARGE (8:52 p.m. ET)
Livan Hernandez strengthened his grip on the No. 5 spot in the New York Mets' rotation with five strong innings in a 7-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Hernandez scattered five hits and allowed just one run, striking out three. The right-hander lowered his ERA to 3.07 in 14 2/3 innings this spring.

"[Hernandez] was pretty good," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "He has a good presence about him on the mound, and in the dugout he brings a different energy. He's put himself in a good position."

Relying primarily on his sinker, Hernandez came nowhere close to his pregame pitch count of 85 before handing a 2-1 lead to Freddy Garcia in the sixth.

Hernandez credited former Dodgers and Giants pitching coach Ron Perranoski with teaching him the sinker while he was with San Francisco in 2003.

Garcia (0-3) struggled again, allowing five runs and seven hits in two innings, raising his spring ERA to 16.71.

"[Garcia's] in a tough spot," Manuel said. "But the good thing is he's healthy and you're happy to see that."

Hernandez's consistency this spring seems to be distancing him from the competition in the race for the final spot in the rotation.

Tim Redding, the only candidate in camp on a major league contract, will start the season on the disabled list, while rookie Jonathan Niese, who is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA, and Garcia have yet to pitch to the level of Hernandez.

DAVIS CRUISES IN RETURN (8:23 p.m. ET)
Arizona's Doug Davis cruised in his return to the mound after missing a start with tightness in his biceps.

He held the Brewers without a hit in 2 1/3 scoreless innings in Arizona's 4-1 loss to Milwaukee. The left-hander struck out two, walked one and hit a batter.

"I felt really good out there, sometimes too good, overthrowing a little bit," Davis said.

Davis said he did not completely test his biceps muscle because "I wasn't real confident in snapping off the curveball as of right now." He said he's sure that his confidence in the arm will improve in the coming starts.

"All in all it was a great day," Davis said.

Arizona manager Bob Melvin said OF Eric Byrnes will make his spring debut Friday in center field against the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe.

Byrnes, recovering from hamstring injuries, played left field and went 1-for-4 with a homer in a minor league game on Tuesday.

GALLARDO GOING STRONG (8:19 p.m. ET)
The loss of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets to free agency might be a little less painful for Milwaukee with the way Yovani Gallardo is pitching this spring.

The 23-year-old right-hander held Arizona hitless through five innings in the Brewers' 4-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.

Arizona managed just one hit the entire game.

Gallardo, who missed virtually all of last season with knee injuries, faced only 16 batters, one more than the minimum. He struck out three and walked three. Two of the base runners were erased, one on a rundown and the other on a double play.

"It felt great. I think all my pitches were working for me," Gallardo said. "I was able to mix and match every pitch and get ahead of the hitters."

Gallardo has held opponents without a run in four of his five starts this spring. His second shutout performance gives him a string of nine consecutive scoreless innings.

GRIFFEY TO START IN LEFT (7:30 p.m. ET)
Ken Griffey Jr. will make his first start of the spring in left field when the Seattle Mariners play the San Diego Padres on Thursday.

Griffey has been relegated to DH for Seattle while recovering from offseason knee surgery. The 39-year-old has said he hopes to play in the outfield regularly once the season begins.

Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu says the plan is to play Griffey three consecutive games, first in left then DH then back in left field.

Griffey did not play in the Mariners' road game against Kansas City on Wednesday and is batting only .143 this spring. He has yet to hit his first home run since re-signing with his first team just before the start of camp and hasn't driven in a run.

HAMMEL MAKING STRIDES (7:02 p.m. ET)
Jason Hammel is making strides toward earning a spot in Tampa Bay's rotation, and injured outfielders B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce are closer to getting back on the field for the Rays.

Hammel settled down after a shaky start to pitch four innings in the Rays' 7-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Upton and Joyce saw limited action in a Class A game.

Hammel, competing with Jeff Niemann and David Price for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, allowed three runs and five hits, including Edwin Encarnacion's second-inning homer, and sacrifice flies to Joey Votto and Ryan Hanigan.

"I liked how he came back the last two innings," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He went from 50 pitches for the first two to 19 over the last two innings. I liked the way he settled in and pitched well after that."

Upton, recovering from offseason surgery on his left (nonthrowing) shoulder, played three innings on defense but did not bat.

Maddon said the 24-year-old center fielder, who hit seven homers to tie an AL record for one postseason, will bat and play in the field during another minor league game Thursday.

There's no timetable for him to play in a major league exhibition.

Joyce, sidelined most of spring training by right leg tendinitis, went 1-for-2 with a walk and played three innings in the field.

"It felt really good," said Joyce, obtained this winter in a trade that sent right-hander Edwin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers.

"Just getting your legs back into it. That's the biggest thing, running on and off the field," Joyce said. "You'll be surprised at how quick it fades. How your body has to adjust. [Upton] said the same thing."

RAMIREZ RESTS; PROCTOR OUT (6:37 p.m. ET)
All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez was scratched from the Florida Marlins' lineup for a second straight game because of discomfort in his right shoulder.

Ramirez hasn't played since Saturday, when he served as the designated hitter. The Marlins were hoping that he'd be ready after skipping Monday's game and the team's off day Tuesday.

Ramirez told manager Fredi Gonzalez he couldn't play about 10 minutes before the team bus left the Marlins' complex in Jupiter for the drive to Viera to play the Nationals.

Also, the Marlins are preparing to start the season without right-hander Scott Proctor, who hasn't pitched since Feb. 27 because of discomfort from scar tissue in his right elbow.

BARD'S SECOND STINT WITH RED SOX OVER (5:55 p.m. ET)
The Boston Red Sox have released Josh Bard, 2 months after signing the backup catcher.

Bard will receive $262,295 in termination pay rather than a $1.6 million salary this year. After Wednesday, players with nonguaranteed contracts put on waivers receive 45 days' termination pay rather than 30.

General manager Theo Epstein says the move was made as a testament to the performance of the team's other young catchers, especially George Kottaras, who spent last season at Triple-A Pawtucket and was a September call-up.

Kottaras would move into the backup role behind Jason Varitek. His, primary responsibility will be to catch knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Bard played seven games with the Red Sox in 2006. He was signed to catch Wakefield's knuckleball, but struggled and was traded to San Diego along with reliever Cla Meredith for catcher Doug Mirabelli.

Bard batted .202 with a homer and 16 RBIs in 178 at-bats for the Padres last season. His career batting average is .265, with 28 home runs and 168 RBIs in 431 games with the Indians, Red Sox and Padres.

He was hitting .429 in six major league appearances during spring training.

EATON TRYING TO MAKE HIS CASE (5:54 p.m. ET)
Adam Eaton's bid to join the Orioles' rotation ended better than it started in St. Louis' 3-2 win over the Baltimore. Eaton issued a four-pitch walk to Skip Schumaker to start the first inning then gave up a single to Chris Duncan.

Schumaker scored on Ty Wigginton's errant throw attempting to double-up Albert Pujols. Pujols scored on Ryan Ludwick's single.

"It took me a little bit to get comfortable again," Eaton said. "After that I settled down and made some good pitches, but luck wasn't on my side and a couple balls found a hole."

Eaton, who was released by Philadelphia earlier this spring, allowed only one baserunner after the first inning and faced the minimum nine batters in his final three innings.

"I thought he was better," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley, comparing Wednesday's start to Eaton's first outing. "His changeup was better. His fastball for the most part, with the exception of the first hitter, was down."

CARPENTER HAS SOLID OUTING (5:51 p.m. ET)
With catcher Yadier Molina back, Chris Carpenter had his best outing of the spring.

Molina returned from the World Baseball Classic and caught six scoreless innings from Carpenter in the St. Louis Cardinals' 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

"Carp makes it look easy," said Molina, who went 1-for-3. "Anytime you catch a pitcher like Carp, it's easy."

Making his fourth start, Carpenter, who missed most of the last two seasons with arm and shoulder trouble, turned in the Cardinals' longest outing so far. He has thrown 14 scoreless innings this spring.

"As the game went on I started feeling better, which is nice," said Carpenter, who retired the final eight batters he faced. "I was able to get my delivery together and start making quality pitches."

REHABBING BILLINGSLEY GOES FIVE INNINGS (5:48 p.m. ET)
While the rest of his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates took a day off, pitcher Chad Billingsley worked five innings in a minor league intrasquad game.

Billingsley, coming back from a broken left ankle, allowed five hits and three earned runs, including a two-run homer to Austin Gallagher, who batted .293 with 33 doubles and 55 RBIs in 78 games last year with Class A Inland Empire.

Billingsley threw 76 pitches and struck out five, allowing one walk and hitting a batter.

He broke his ankle last winter when he slipped on ice outside his home in Pennsylvania. The fracture required surgery.

When Billingsley pitched Wednesday, Hall of Famer Bob Gibson was among those watching the game. His son Chris is a first baseman who signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last November.

TRIBE'S MILLER FACING SURGERY (5:19 p.m. ET)
Reliever Adam Miller is facing career-threatening reconstructive finger surgery if he is unable to find a new way to pitch effectively.

Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff said Miller, who underwent surgery on his right middle finger last year, will spend the next seven to 10 days throwing to see if he can command his pitches without pain. If Miller can't, he will have a procedure where a tendon will be taken from his wrist to reattach the tendon in his finger.

Soloff said the operation would cost Miller this season and perhaps end his career. Soloff said a buildup of scar tissue could make it impossible to pitch.

The hard-throwing 24-year-old Miller came to training camp with a chance to win a job in Cleveland's bullpen.

BIG UNIT HAS BICEPS SORENESS (4:08 p.m. ET)
Giants left-hander Randy Johnson is scheduled to start against Seattle on Monday after skipping a turn because of soreness in his biceps.

Manager Bruce Bochy says Johnson's arm is healthy. He was held out of his start Wednesday against the Cubs for precautionary reasons. Johnson is scheduled to pitch a bullpen session Saturday.

The 45-year-old Johnson has a 1.08 ERA this spring, his first with the Giants. He has given up a run in 8 1/3 innings and has 12 strikeouts.

ROYALS PLACE GOBBLE ON WAIVERS (3:55 p.m. ET)
Left-handed reliever Jimmy Gobble was placed on waivers by the Royals and is expected to be released Friday.

The 27-year-old pitcher has been in the organization since 1999 and was 22-23 with a 5.23 ERA in 235 career games. He debuted with the major league club in 2003.

Gobble was 0-2 with an 8.81 ERA and one save in 39 relief appearances last season. A stiff lower back forced him onto the disabled list from July to September, but he didn't allow a run in his final eight appearances after he returned.

By placing him on waivers Wednesday, Gobble will get $221,311 in termination pay instead of $1.35 million salary.

The Royals also signed right-hander Anthony Lerew to a minor league contract and invited him to big league camp.

LANNAN GETS OPENING DAY NOD (1:52 p.m. ET)
John Lannan, a rookie in 2008 who started last season in the minors, will be the Nationals' Opening Day starter against the Marlins.

Lannan, 24, went 9-15 with a 3.91 ERA last season. In six innings over two starts this spring, he has not allowed a run.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

null

March, 17, 2009
03/17/09
9:03
AM ET
For more spring training news that could impact your fantasy team, check out our daily camp notes.
• Sign up, play for free
LEYLAND VOICES WBC CONCERN (8:37 p.m. ET)
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he is following the World Baseball Classic and wants to get his players back as soon as possible.

His entire starting outfield along with starting pitcher Armando Galarraga are playing in the WBC and he said he's disappointed that Carlos Guillen has been playing mostly designated hitter for Venezuela. Guillen is moving from first base to the outfield for the Tigers this season and Leyland hoped that would be Guillen's spot during the WBC.

"I don't want to stick my nose into it but I can't do anything about it," Leyland said.

LACKEY NOT SWEATING CONTRACT TALKS (8:10 p.m. ET)
John Lackey isn't letting his contract situation become a distraction this spring. The Angels' right-hander is keeping his focus on the field.

Lackey, who is set to become a free agent after this season, handled San Diego without much trouble, giving up one run on three hits over five innings in a 12-7 win over the Padres.

"I'm supposed to hear something back this week," Lackey said. "We'll see. I'm not worrying about it too much. I'm just trying to handle my business and get ready."

The Angels' likely Opening Day starter threw just 50 pitches in the game before going to the bullpen to get in some extra work.

More outings like the one he had Tuesday could drive up the asking price for the big right-hander, who has 91 career wins and the third-lowest ERA in the American League since 2005. Lackey was dominant on the mound and added a pair of sacrifice bunts at the plate. Both times the runner he moved over scored.

"Showing my skills for National League teams, too," Lackey joked.

THOME PLAYS IN SIMULATED GAME (7:35 p.m. ET)
Jim Thome, who has experienced tightness in his lower back, played in a simulated game.

"I probably got six or seven at-bats and worked on some things, did our work, and everything was great," he said.

Thome expects to start Wednesday against the Angels.

A'S RELEASE CATCHER BOWEN (4:03 p.m. ET)
The Oakland Athletics released catcher Rob Bowen on Tuesday, likely opening the door for former first-round pick Landon Powell to back up Kurt Suzuki.

"We've got some internal options we feel good about, and it's also early enough in the spring for Rob to find a better opportunity," A's general manager Billy Beane said.

Bowen, 28, hit .176 in 37 games with the A's in 2008. This spring he was hitting .200 in six games. He heard reports last week that he had been placed on waivers, so he was not surprised to get the news that he'd been released.

"You always prepare for anything in this game," he said. "This isn't the first time I've switched teams and it probably won't be the last."

Powell, who will turn 27 on Thursday, was the A's top pick in the 2004 draft. His career has been slowed by knee problems, but he has been healthy this spring. He hit .230 with 15 homers in 88 games at Triple-A Sacramento last year.

ASTROS HAPPY TO ADD PUDGE (3:27 p.m. ET)
Houston Astros players are raving about the pending addition of catcher Ivan Rodriguez as the team closes in on a $1.5 million, one-year contract with the 13-time Gold Glove winner.

"He's a veteran guy that knows how to play the game," Carlos Lee said. "He's one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game."

The Astros needed a veteran catcher to replace Brad Ausmus, who became a free agent and signed with the Dodgers. Last year, the Astros used Ausmus, Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles behind the plate.

"I don't have any feelings about it," said Quintero, who had been the projected starter. "I'm going to keep working hard. I can't do anything about it. I'm happy for him to be here and help the team."

As a child, Astros right fielder Hunter Pence watched Rodriguez play for the Rangers. "He was one of my favorites growing up in Arlington," Pence said. "So I'm very excited about it. I watched a lot of Rangers games and I loved Pudge. He was an incredible catcher."

SANTANA THROWS TO METS MINOR LEAGUERS (3:05 p.m. ET)
Rather than have Johan Santana ride a bus two hours to pitch against division rival Atlanta, the New York Mets had their ace pitch against their minor leaguers for four innings Tuesday in his second outing since knee surgery.

Santana allowed two runs and six hits in four innings, striking out five and walking none. He gave up three doubles and threw 40 of 56 pitches for strikes.

"I felt pretty good, because I was able to throw a lot of strikes," Santana said. "Even though they were swinging to a lot of them, they were aggressive, and that's what you want to see, what kind of approaches they take, and then try to slow the game down."

The two-time Cy Young Award winner had hoped to pitch for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. After being slowed by elbow tightness, he made his first spring training outing last Thursday against Florida, giving up three runs and four hits in 2 2/3 innings.

"I was able to locate all my pitches, and right at the end, we tried to work on the fastball inside, trying to establish that pitch right there, and I was able to do that, so I felt pretty good," Santana said of Tuesday's outing. "That tells you right there the command is there. I'm very pleased with the results."

A NEW START FOR TYLER JOHNSON? (1:34 p.m. ET)
Left-handed reliever Tyler Johnson helped the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title in his rookie season. But last winter he found himself auditioning for scouts in a high school gym and wondering if he could take up golf or music as a new career, since his baseball career appeared to be over at age 27.

"It definitely humbles you a little bit," he said of the experience, according to The Seattle Times. "At one point, I thought I might be done playing baseball."

Now, Johnson, who missed part of 2007 and all of 2008 with shoulder problems, is in the hunt to join the Seattle Mariners as a situational lefty. Injuries to Cesar Jimenez and Ryan Feierabend and the likelihood that Ryan Rowland-Smith will begin the season as a starter have opened the door for Johnson, who threw his third bullpen session on Monday. He's pegged to throw a simulated game later this week before joining the roster for Cactus League appearances, according to the report.

"If I'm healthy, I think I'm going to be there," he said, according to the Times. "I think it's just a matter of my health. I don't really look at that. I've been in eight big league spring trainings. It's not like it's my first, second or even third one. I know what to expect, and I know if I'm healthy, I'm going to be in the big leagues. That I'm pretty sure of."

BARTON AMONG CARDINALS CUTS (1:19 p.m. ET)
Outfielder Brian Barton, a 2008 Rule 5 draft pick who spent all of last season with the St. Louis Cardinals, was among eight players the team cut from the spring training roster on Monday.

Barton and pitchers Mitchell Boggs, Matt Scherer and Charlie Manning were optioned to the team's minor league camp, while pitchers Clayton Mortensen, Jess Todd and Adam Ottavino and first baseman Allen Craig were reassigned to the minors.

Barton hit .268 in 153 trips to the plate last season, but got off to a slow start in spring training. He had just one hit and seven strikeouts in his 16 most recent at-bats.

BYRNES STILL RECOVERING IN MINORS (9:33 a.m.)
Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes is still playing in minor league games as he recovers from a torn hamstring and won't play with the D-backs until Friday at the earliest, manager Bob Melvin said, according to the Arizona Republic.

"I think the best thing is probably to listen to the trainers at this point," Byrnes said, according to the report.

Byrnes said he was clocked at 4.18 seconds running to first base in a minor league game on Sunday, the newspaper reported.

"It says a lot," he said, according to the report. "Look, I'm not one to get fixated on times. But to know that I consistently ran 4.2s when I was 100 percent healthy a couple of years ago when I stole 50 bases and I'm running 4.18s down there in my first game back shows me that it's there."

BIG UNIT A LITTLE SORE (8:50 a.m.)
A little arm soreness was enough for the San Francisco Giants to have Randy Johnson skip his next scheduled spring training start on Wednesday.

Manager Bruce Bochy says the Big Unit has "a tiny touch of biceps soreness," but nothing that will require an MRI or a visit with Dr. James Andrews.

"It's nothing that drastic. It's just a little cranky, that's all, normal spring training stuff," Bochy said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "We've got time to get him ready and get his pitch count up. We're not concerned right now. We expect him to be fine."

Johnson last pitched on Friday, going four innings in a minor league game. Tim Lincecum will start in his place on Wednesday against the Cubs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

null

February, 28, 2009
02/28/09
9:53
AM ET
SNEEZE COSTS LOOPER START (8:15 p.m. ET)
Braden Looper's spring has been slowed by a sneeze.

MLB News And Notes

The Milwaukee right-hander was scratched from his Cactus League debut after feeling tightness in his left oblique muscle near the end of his bullpen warm-up.

Looper, signed as a free agent just before the start of spring training, said he first felt a twinge in his side after he sneezed earlier in the week but didn't think twice about it.

"I haven't felt it playing catch," Looper said. "I didn't feel it doing anything. I feel healthy. That's what is frustrating."

When told Hall of Fame reliever Goose Gossage once went on the disabled list after a sneezing-related injury, Looper said, "He's always been a hero of mine, actually. I remember watching him pitch when I was growing up."

BLACK'S WRIST BLUE AFTER BAT ATTACK (7:27 p.m. ET)
Padres manager Bud Black made it onto the unofficial injury report on Saturday, a day after getting hit on the right wrist when catcher Eliezer Alfonzo let go of his bat in a spring training game.

"I got smoked," said Black, whose wrist was swollen. "A little sore today. No further tests necessary."

He was in good spirits in giving the play-by-play of the injury, which happened after he crossed his arms in front of his face to protect himself during the eighth inning of Friday's game against the Indians at the Goodyear, Ariz., ballpark.

"Fairly short range between home plate and the third-base dugout, so I'm just leaning on the rail, as players and coaches do," Black said. "2-0 swing, good finish, came through, let go of the bat, the old whirlybird toward the dugout, right at me, zeroing in. Go into the protective mode, ow, start to turn, contact, bat down, glasses off."

Black, a former big league pitcher who had offseason surgery on his left shoulder thanks to wear and tear, said he reassured everyone in the dugout that he was OK, then put on a brave face despite the pain.

CARPENTER CRUISES IN RETURN (7:06 p.m. ET)
Chris Carpenter's first spring outing was a breeze.

In his first appearance in a game since September, Carpenter needed only 19 pitches to throw two hitless innings in the Cardinals' 9-2 victory over the Nationals.

"I've been in a lot of spring trainings, and spring training is a lot different than the regular season, but like I've said all along, I've felt strong and I've felt good, and my stuff's there," Carpenter said. "Now I have just got to be able to continue to progress my arm strength and pitch count, and get ready to go."

Carpenter was originally slated to throw 40 pitches, but Cardinals manager Tony La Russa pulled him after the second inning.

"Forty is just a number of conditioning, then you put the factors together and you see what makes sense," La Russa said. "He accomplished a lot. He pitched two solid innings. He'll have a great four days of preparation or five days -- there won't be anything that stops him from coming out there again. I didn't think a third inning was worth trying to push."

PAVANO PERFECT IN DEBUT (7:01 p.m. ET)
Carl Pavano made his debut for the Indians, working two perfect innings in a 1-0 loss to the Athletics.

"Carl threw the ball well," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "He's been very consistent this spring. It's early. We've got a long way to, but it's nice to see him get out there. A lot of guys are throwing the ball well. That's good to see."

Pavano, who signed a one-year, free-agent deal with the Indians, is taking it slow this spring.

"Up to this point, I've been working on my fastball command," Pavano said. "It's been a little inconsistent, but I kept it down. My secondary pitches are a little behind, but I'm working on those. This is just one step in getting ready for the season."

Meanwhile, Wedge doesn't know when Kerry Wood, who had a bullpen session Friday, will throw again. Wood has been bothered by a sore back, but had no problems Friday. And outfielder Grady Sizemore had treatment on his strained left groin Saturday. The injury forced him off the Team USA roster in the World Baseball Classic. He's expected to miss a few games.

PINIELLA SEES BRADLEY'S INTENSITY (3:53 p.m. ET)
Ron Washington, who managed Milton Bradley last year in Texas, described Bradley as a "perfectionist" during an interview this week. Lou Piniella, Bradley's new manager in Chicago, concurs with that assessment based on what he's seen early in spring training.

"The way he pushes himself is his trigger, in a way, to be successful," Piniella said Saturday. "I can see it when he does the drills -- just the way he goes about it -- or when he takes batting practice. It's a focused, intense effort, and it carries on into the game."

Piniella, understandably, is downplaying the possibility of another outburst or two this season from Bradley, whose history of blowups is well documented.

"Heck, when I played, I blew up a few times, too," Piniella said.

The Cubs' biggest concern this season will be keeping Bradley healthy. Last season, Bradley made 97 appearances at designated hitter and started only 20 games in the outfield. Although he should be more mobile now that he's 18 months removed from knee surgery, Piniella is already talking about resting him in day games after night games.

Bradley has been bothered by a tight left quad and a case of the flu early in Cubs camp, and he's listed as day to day.

-- Jerry Crasnick,. ESPN.com

CUBS, KOSKIE AGREE TO MINOR LEAGUE DEAL (3:24 p.m. ET)
Third baseman Corey Koskie and the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to their spring training camp in Mesa, Ariz.

Koskie has been out of the majors since he sustained a concussion while playing for Milwaukee in 2006. But he says he is fully recovered and will play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. He will report to the Cubs' camp after Canada is finished playing in the WBC.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Saturday the club is glad to give the 35-year-old Koskie a chance. The completion of the deal is pending a physical.

Chicago is looking for a backup for Aramis Ramirez.

ROYALS' BALE TO HAVE THYROID SURGERY (10:31 a.m. ET)
Royals left-handed reliever John Bale is scheduled to have his thyroid removed Tuesday after being diagnosed with hyperthyroidism caused by Graves' disease, the Kansas City Star reported.

Bale had been losing weight during the offseason in an effort to get in shape, but a routine camp physical and follow-up exam in Kansas City revealed some of that weight loss was due to irregularity in his thyroid. Given a number of medical options, Bale decided to have it removed, because that promised the quickest return to the field -- within two weeks, if all goes well.

"The best way to go about this is to have surgery," Bale said, according to the Star. "Just have it taken out. If I do that, I'll be normal in two weeks. I want to nip it in the bud now."

Bale, who ended last season with 10 straight scoreless appearances, has been penciled in as the Royals' set-up man for closer Joakim Soria.

ONE SMALL STEP FOR A GIANT (10:08 a.m.)
Randy Johnson went two innings in his first outing for the San Francisco Giants on Friday, giving up one run. But he was happy just to be pitching in February -- something he didn't get to do the past two years, thanks to back surgeries.

"To be able to go out there and feel that good and compete and not worry about anything, that's a good position," Johnson said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "Tomorrow I know I'm going to feel good. I'll be able to do my program and get ready for my next start. Other than the senior moments I had with my splitter, I felt pretty good."

Those "senior moments" were a splitter that hit Royals first baseman Ryan Shealy and another that was scored as a wild pitch in the Royals' 6-1 win.

Another Giant also had a solid outing on the mound. Jonathan Sanchez, making his first and only appearance before leaving for the World Baseball Classic, threw 45 pitches, walked none and struck out four in three innings.

SCHMIDT PAIN-FREE IN BRIEF OUTING (9:55 a.m. ET)
The will-he-or-won't-he Manny Ramirez drama has dominated the headlines out of Los Angeles Dodgers camp this spring. But the Dodgers' 2009 fortunes might hinge on the health of Jason Schmidt's arm as much as they do on Ramirez's bat.

Schmidt threw 21 pitches (10 strikes), walked two hitters, and recorded just two outs in a brief outing in a B-game between Los Angeles and the Chicago White Sox Friday morning. Afterward, he said he was pitching pain-free but was still working to find the proper arm slot on his delivery.

Schmidt's manager, quietly optimistic about Schmidt's prospects, didn't sound too worried about his mechanics.

"Sometimes you can overthink that stuff," Joe Torre said. "I just have a sense -- and maybe I'm wishing this -- that once he gets a couple games under his belt, that he's going to feel comfortable."

-- Eric Neel, ESPN The Magazine