Category archive: Ivan Rodriguez

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March, 17, 2009
03/17/09
9:03
AM ET
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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.