Category archive: Pedro Martinez


March, 14, 2009
Orlando Cabrera made his Athletics debut and Jason Giambi hit his first homer of the spring in an 8-3 victory over a San Francisco Giants split squad Saturday, but the club also had to shut down All-Star pitcher Justin Duchscherer because of a sore elbow.

Giambi belted a two-run homer against minor leaguer Joe Martinez in the first inning. Giambi started the spring 1-for-17, but has four hits in six at-bats, with two walks, in his past three games.

"The last few games I'm hitting the ball good, really starting to get locked in, just in time because we only have 21 games to go," he said. "I'm right where I want to be this time in the spring."

Cabrera had a single in three at-bats as the designated hitter, his first game with his new team. He is scheduled to make his debut at shortstop on Sunday, when Nomar Garciaparra will make his A's debut at third base. Garciaparra and Cabrera did not sign until March 6.

A.J. Burnett threw four perfect innings in the New York Yankees' 3-1 split-squad win over the Houston Astros on Saturday.

Burnett struck out three during his 40-pitch outing. He has allowed one hit over six shutout innings in two spring training starts.

Burnett went 18-10 with Toronto last year. The Yankees signed him to an $82.5 million, five-year free-agent contract during the offseason.

Nate Robertson pitched three scoreless innings in the Tigers' 10-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, allowing one hit while fanning one. With three weeks left to win the final spot in the Tigers' starting rotation, Robertson was pleased.

"Its my job to lose," Robertson said. "I am not putting pressure on myself. I am fighting for a job. No pressure."

Robertson and Dontrelle Willis are candidates for the final spot behind Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, Armando Galarraga and Jeremy Bonderman. Zach Miner and Rick Porcello also are in the mix.

There could be two openings because Bonderman has a sore shoulder, but he threw 30 pitches Saturday in a game against Tigers minor leaguers and reported no pain. Bonderman will start Thursday against Atlanta.


Carlos Carrasco turned in a solid outing on Saturday, giving the top pitching prospect a boost in the race for the Phillies' open rotation spot.

His performance during the Phillies' 5-2 victory in Kissimmee, Fla., over Houston was bolstered by another sluggish offensive effort by the Astros.

Carrasco, who is competing with Kyle Kendrick, Chan Ho Park and J.A. Happ for the final spot in the rotation, allowed one run and four hits in three innings against a Houston split squad.

He faced a lineup that included Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee and was supposed to be bolstered by the return of Miguel Tejada from the World Baseball Classic.

Instead, Tejada and Lee went a combined 0-for-6 while Berkman fared a bit better with two hits and an RBI.


Prized Orioles pitching prospects Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta are among the seven non-roster players Baltimore has reassigned to its minor league camp.

Joining the right-handers at the minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla., on Saturday are right-handers Fredy Deza and Ryan Keefer; catchers Jose Reyes and Adam Donachie; and infielder Craig Brazell.


Right-hander Brandon Backe has been sidelined for at least 10 more days with a rib injury, according to the Houston Chronicle.

According to the newspaper, a strained intercostal muscle in Backe's side is threatening his chances for a spot in the Astros' rotation for the start of the regular season.

"Not real promising, when you think about it," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said in Kissimmee, Fla., according to the paper.

Backe, 30, was injured Sunday in a spring training game against the Pirates.

"It's already been four or five days now and who knows how much longer," Backe said. "Worried? Not really worried. I'm more aggravated than anything."


Second baseman Rickie Weeks shrugged off his well-documented struggles with his first homer of the spring Friday during a 5-1 win over the Royals in Phoenix.

Weeks said afterward he's looking past the harsh treatment from fans he's received in Milwaukee.

"I really don't care about it. I don't look into too much of it," Weeks said. "I couldn't care less about what people think or say. I'm going to do what I've got to do to help this team win, plain and simple."

Injuries haven't helped Weeks, the second pick of the 2003 draft who has 72 errors in 445 games, including 15 last year, and is a career .245 hitter. He hurt his wrist because of his hard bat waggle and his knee in the past three seasons. He struck out 116 times in 2007 and 115 times last year.

"Playing through injuries? I've been doing that pretty much my whole career to this point," Weeks said.

-- Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


March, 13, 2009

Houston's Mike Hampton had his best outing of the spring on Friday in Kissimmee, Fla.

He looked good and, perhaps more importantly, he felt good.

Hampton allowed three hits in four scoreless innings while striking out four as the Astros and Washington Nationals played to a 2-2 tie in 10 innings.

The injury-plagued lefty missed all of 2006 and 2007 and was limited to just 13 games last season because of various injuries, but is hoping to revive his career in his return to Houston, where he won 22 games in 1999.

The 36-year-old had allowed six runs combined in his two previous outings.


Seattle left-hander Erik Bedard has canceled a bullpen session for the second consecutive day in Peoria, Ariz., raising concerns that the Mariners' ace may be hurt more than he's letting on.

Bedard was scratched from his scheduled start against Kansas City on Wednesday because of sore buttocks and missed his bullpen session on Thursday because of the same thing. He canceled again Friday.

Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu has downplayed the severity of Bedard's injury and says Seattle is taking a cautious approach with its top pitcher.

Right-hander Julian Tavarez has agreed to a non-guaranteed, minor league contract with the Washington Nationals.

He's the second player the Nationals have brought aboard this week in Viera, Fla., joining Kip Wells as possible help for the bullpen.

The 35-year-old Tavarez is 85-75 with 22 saves and a 4.45 ERA over 16 seasons with 10 clubs in the majors, working as both a starter and reliever.

He went 1-5 with a 5.10 ERA in 52 appearances for Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta in 2008.

Kendry Morales, who'll replace Mark Teixeira as Angels first baseman this season, is hitting .355 in 31 Cactus League at-bats. Morales hit a tape measure grand slam off Chad Gaudin for his first home run of the spring in Los Angeles' 8-2 victory over the Cubs on Friday.

While Morales has only 12 homers in his first 377 major league at-bats, he's coming off an impressive performance in winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

Manager Mike Scioscia will probably hit Bobby Abreu, Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter in the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 spots unless Howie Kendricks works his way into the second spot and bumps everybody back a notch. That means Morales will bat either fifth or sixth in the order.

"He has big power,'' Scioscia said of Morales. "Whether that translates into 15, 20 or 30 home runs is impossible to say. What we need for Kendry is that production. He's going to be up there with a lot of guys on base.''

-- Jerry Crasnick,

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Outfielder Javier Herrera has been optioned from the Oakland Athletics to Triple-A Sacramento.

The 23-year-old went 3-for-6 with a double, two walks and scored twice in seven spring training games for the Athletics.

In 61 games at Double-A Midland a year ago, Herrera hit .267 with nine homers and 36 RBIs. Herrera is a .284 career hitter in five minor league seasons with 48 homers, 208 RBIs and 72 stolen bases in 90 attempts.

Brewers center fielder Mike Cameron could be swinging a bat as soon as Saturday and is expected to return in a few days from a strained rib cage muscle.

Manager Ken Macha said Friday that Cameron's injury to an intercostal muscle on his left side needs a few days of rest.

Cameron was upbeat in the clubhouse, but wasn't sure when he'd be back in the field after getting hurt during a drill.

"I feel good, but my ribs feel bad," he said.

Cameron, a three-time Gold Glove winner, hit .243 with 25 homers and 70 RBIs last year in his first season in Milwaukee.

Jose Reyes, back in Mets camp after the World Baseball Classic, was singing the praises of Dominican Republic teammate Pedro Martinez and says the former Mets right-hander would welcome a return to Queens.

"He said he just wants to go somewhere he'd like to be comfortable," Reyes said, according to Newsday. "He'd like to pitch here. To be honest with you guys, he said he'd like to come back here, but I don't know what's the deal here."

The Mets have already said they're not interested in re-signing Martinez. But if they asked Reyes for his opinion, they'd get a ringing endorsement.

"Unbelievable, unbelievable," Reyes said of Martinez, according to Newsday. "He's fantastic. He's loose, comfortable on the mound. He threw a lot of strikes, bro. He throws hard, too. He looked great."

"Last year he had some tightness in his shoulder, but now he looks relaxed," Reyes added, according to the report. "He's ready. Whoever signs him, he's going to do good."

Mariners right-hander Josh Fields, the team's first-round draft pick in 2008, was one of five players the team reassigned to its minor league camp Thursday.

Fields has not pitched in a Cactus League game since arriving in camp and has been relegated to side work, though manager Don Wakamatsu hasn't ruled out bringing him back up at some point.

"I was extremely proud of the way he handled himself and impressed," Wakamatsu said.

The move to send Fields down was expected and the 22-year-old didn't seem concerned about not pitching in a game while with the big league club.

The Mariners also sent right-hander Tracy Thorpe, catcher Israel Nunez and infielders Callix Crabbe and Oswaldo Navarro to the minor league camp. The moves leave Seattle with 58 players on its spring training roster.

-- Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


March, 10, 2009
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Yankees right-hander Chien-Ming Wang threw in the bullpen and will start Friday against Boston. He had his throwing session pushed back one day due to a bad cold.

Meanwhile, closer Mariano Rivera (right shoulder surgery) will throw BP for the first time Wednesday and could pitch in a game around March 17.

Oakland outfielder Matt Holliday enjoyed facing his former team for the first time.

Holliday, the 2007 National League batting champion, had two singles but the Rockies earned a 14-7 victory.

"These guys are going to be my friends until I die, no matter where I play, what team they're on or what team I'm on," Holliday said. "They're my friends and it's good to see them, no matter what the circumstances."

Holliday, who established himself as one of the premier power hitters in the majors during his five-year stint with the Rockies, was traded for closer Huston Street, pitcher Greg Smith and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez in the offseason.

Ben Sheets still might have a future with the Rangers.

Sheets, who had surgery on his right elbow, is rehabbing in the Arlington offices of Rangers team doctor Keith Meister, according to several media outlets.

While general manager Jon Daniels said Texas might consider Sheets when he's healthy, he also said Sheets made the decision to work with Meister on his own.

"There's not a connection there," Daniels told "I think he lives in Dallas and our club is there. He could have chosen to rehab anywhere he wanted to."

Angels starter Jered Weaver allowed four hits and a run in two-thirds of an inning in his spring training debut.

Weaver began throwing off a mound only 11 days ago and has been held out of Cactus League action because of soreness in his throwing shoulder.

With Ervin Santana dealing with elbow inflammation and unlikely to start the season on time and with the Angels waiting for Kelvim Escobar to return after missing all of 2008, Weaver's health is quite valuable to a team that already will enter the season with two starters out of action.

"He'll be ready for the start of the season," manager Mike Scioscia said after Los Angeles' 8-4 win over Cleveland. "He's on-pace if there are no setbacks. I thought he had really good stuff. The command needs to be a little crisper, but that's to be expected. We just need to get him out there a little more so he can fine-tune some things."

Weaver was happy with the feeling in his shoulder.

"I've been working my butt off trying to get [my shoulder] back in shape and it's felt good the last week and a half or so," he said. "They haven't found anything in there, so I'm happy about that."

New Indians closer Kerry Wood worked a scoreless inning with a strikeout in relief in his first spring appearance.

Wood, who had 34 saves with the Cubs last season before signing a two-year deal with Cleveland, has been held back due to soreness in his lower back.

"It was good to see [Wood] get out there," manager Eric Wedge said after Cleveland's 8-4 loss to the Angels. "It was good for Victor [Martinez] to be back there catching him, too."

Wood agreed.

"It was nice to get a different uniform in the box," he said. "It always adds a new level of adrenaline."

Mariners right-hander Brandon Morrow continues to suffer from tightness in his pitching forearm and may have to postpone his next scheduled start.

The 24-year-old Morrow had a brief bullpen session Tuesday, but couldn't shake the pain in his pitching arm that has prevented him from appearing in a spring training game since March 1.

He was scheduled to pitch this past weekend, but was scratched after complaining of tightness in his pitching arm. The Mariners then hoped the inflammation would subside with rest and pushed Morrow's start back to Friday against the Cubs. But after his bullpen session today, the 24-year-old Morrow isn't certain he'll be ready by then.

The Mariners had hoped Morrow would secure a spot in their rotation this spring after they moved him from the bullpen to a starting role last summer. Now, they aren't certain where he'll wind up when the regular season begins April 6 at Minnesota.

Joba Chamberlain was much better in his outing for the Yankees on Tuesday, allowing three hits and one earned run while striking out three and walking none in three innings of work.

Before the game, manager Joe Girardi had said he wanted to see more out of Chamberlain -- more command, in particular.

Facing the Cincinnati Reds, Chamberlain needed just 29 pitches to get through three innings, throwing 20 strikes, and his fastball velocity ticked up a couple of notches; the range of his fastball was 89-94. In his previous outing, Chamberlain had walked four of the five batters he faced. His line: Three innings, three hits, one earned run, no walks, three strikeouts.

"I'd be lying if I didn't say it's a sigh of relief just because there is a sense of urgency to get going," Chamberlain said. "We're less than a month away. You understand there is work to be done, but you also had to have that sense of urgency, also."

-- Buster Olney, ESPN The Magazine

MR. INTENSITY (4:11 p.m. ET)
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a day off Wednesday, and manager Bob Melvin plans to spend it mountain biking with his bench coach and good buddy, Kirk Gibson.

Gibson went biking with D-backs bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock earlier this week in Tucson and broke the chain on his bike.

"I don't think it was for lack of leg strength,'' Melvin said. "He's a bit of a grinder. Gibby doesn't lack intensity when it comes to anything. When he has his mind set on doing something, he's all out."

-- Jerry Crasnick,

Eric Chavez remains optimistic that he can play by Opening Day despite a setback in his shoulder rehabilitation.

The Athletics third baseman stopped baseball activities on Monday, a day after feeling right shoulder pain while swinging a bat.

"The big thing is getting pain-free and then kind of starting over slow," Chavez said Tuesday. "Take five swings. How does that feel? Take 10 throws. How does that feel? We have to start from scratch a little bit."

Chavez may try to hit or throw Thursday or Friday. He doesn't expect to play in a game for a while, not even as a designated hitter.

"I'm going to refrain from setting dates, but I'm going to try to recover as fast as I can and get back on the field as soon as I can, but meanwhile trying to get the shoulder healthy," he said.

Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin is about to return from the World Baseball Classic, where Team Canada was eliminated by Italy on Monday.

In Martin's absence, veteran Brad Ausmus and 2003 draft pick A.J. Ellis have been logging the bulk of the time behind the plate. They had better enjoy the at-bats while they can, given that Martin has started 145 and 149 games the past two seasons, respectively.

Ausmus, who signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers over the winter, joked that the backup catching gig in Los Angeles is the easiest job in baseball.

"Or maybe the second easiest -- behind head groundskeeper in San Diego," Ausmus said.

-- Jerry Crasnick,

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Koji Uehara was expected to miss his next scheduled start after straining his left hamstring during Monday's game against the New York Mets.

Uehara, the first Japanese pitcher signed by the Orioles, apparently got hurt while covering first base. He was scheduled to go four innings, but came out after two.

"He probably will be backed up from the next time he pitches by two or three days," manager Dave Trembley said Tuesday. "I think instead of him pitching on five days' rest, it probably will be seven."

The injury is not believed to be serious.

Uehara received treatment on his left leg in the trainer's room Tuesday at Fort Lauderdale Stadium while the Orioles traveled to Fort Myers to play the Boston Red Sox.

The Washington Nationals optioned left-hander Mike O'Connor to Triple-A Syracuse and left-hander Ross Detwiler to Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday in their first round of spring training cuts.

O'Connor was 1-1 with a 13.00 ERA in five games, including one start, for Washington in 2008. Detwiler, who was 8-8 in 26 starts with Class A Potomac last year, was the Nationals' first-round draft pick in 2007 out of Missouri State.

The Nationals also reassigned eight players to their minor league camp: left-hander Justin Jones; right-handers Bobby Brownlie, Preston Larrison and J.D. Martin; catcher Javier Herrera; first basemen Chris Marrero and Matt Whitney; and outfielder Destin Hood.

The moves leave Washington with 58 players in camp.

Calling last year "the worst year of my life, by far," Andruw Jones offered an apology on Monday for his disastrous 2008 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"I am sorry I didn't stand up to my reputation," he said, according to the Times. "I am sorry for what I put everyone through. I am sorry I did not make it work."

Jones, now with the Texas Rangers, is looking happier and fitter than last season, when he showed up at spring training overweight, batted a career-worst .158 with three home runs, was booed by Dodgers fans and left the team before the end of the season.

"I said I didn't care, but I heard them, and it wasn't any fun," Jones said of the booing, according to the Times. "I've never known a home player to be booed like that."

This year, things are starting off better. And Monday, after Jones homered off Claudio Vargas, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he was glad Jones had turned things around.

"I'm happy for him," Torre said, according to the Times. "I hurt for him last year. He is certainly a lot better guy than he was portrayed to be."

VOTE FOR PEDRO? (8:54 a.m ET)
New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel is playing down speculation that the team will bring back Pedro Martinez as a fifth starter, saying the team is sticking with the pitchers it has in camp.

"Pedro is a Hall of Fame pitcher and one of the greatest pitchers of our time, but I feel very confident in the people we have in camp that [they] can get the job done," Manuel said. "Do you like Pedro? Of course, you love Pedro. But you have to be fair to the people that we have here."

According to ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney, a baseball source said there was "not a chance" the Mets will sign Martinez. The source said that the reasoning is not financial, but based on concerns about Martinez's pitching command.

Martinez, 37, who is pitching for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, said Monday that he'd be interested in rejoining the Mets, but that he's not going to beg them for a job, according to the New York Daily News. Martinez went 5-6 with a 5.61 ERA in 20 starts last season.

The Mets are currently auditioning Livan Hernandez, Tim Redding, Freddy Garcia and Jonathon Niese for the No. 5 starting slot in the rotation.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


March, 4, 2009
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Good thing for the Arizona Diamondbacks that Mexico isn't in the NL West.

Fueled by a chanting, flag-waving crowd, Team Mexico roughed up Arizona ace Brandon Webb in a 19-4 rout of the Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.

Webb allowed six runs, five earned, in 1 1/3 innings in his spring debut. He gave up four hits, walked two and struck out one.

Webb had been scratched from his first start with a sore forearm. But he said his arm "felt pretty great" and that his main problem was rushing his delivery.

"You just get out of your rhythm and out of your comfort zone trying to do too much, and that's probably where I was at today," Webb said.

Jerry Hairston hit a three-run homer and knocked in four runs, his brother Scott Hairston added a two-run shot and Jorge Cantu hit a grand slam and drove in six runs in a rousing tuneup for the World Baseball Classic. Alfredo Amezaga added a solo shot for Mexico.

The Hairstons were born in the U.S., but they're eligible to play for Mexico because their mother is from Hermosillo, Mexico.

The way Puerto Rico is pitching and hitting, manager Jose Oquendo likes his club's chances of making a strong showing in the World Baseball Classic.

Jonathan Sanchez worked three scoreless innings, Alex Rios went 2-for-3 with a double and triple, and Ivan Rodriguez and Ramon Vazquez each drove in a run Wednesday night to pace a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

"I think it's coming along good," Oquendo said after the second of three exhibitions Puerto Rico is playing in preparation for its WBC opener against Panama.

With a potent lineup that also includes Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Geovany Soto and Bernie Williams, Team Puerto Rico is hoping to improve on its 2006 fifth-place WBC finish.

"We have more experience now. Delgado was hurt the last time and only had one at-bat," Oquendo said. "We definitely have a good ballclub that we can do a lot of things with. The key is you've got to pitch, you've got to play defense and also do the little things. I think we have the club to do that."

Alex Gonzalez was relieved to be back on the field.

Gonzalez singled in two at-bats as the designated hitter after missing all of last season with a knee injury, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Netherlands 4-3 in 10 innings on Wednesday night.

He felt some tightness in the left knee, which was packed in ice after he was removed.

"Finally, almost a year since I played. My first at-bat I felt good," Gonzalez said. "I'm looking forward to playing shortstop and being 100 percent to help my team. If I keep doing what I've been doing. I'll be ready for the start of the season."

The game was Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker's first look at Gonzalez. He was pleased with his batting, but said he ran tentatively.

"It feels good to have him in there," Baker said. "If he feels good, he'll be back at DH tomorrow, then we'll get him in the field next week. I want to just see natural movement. The hardest thing about recovering from an injury is realizing that you're over it."

In other news, the Reds have invited President Barack Obama to throw out the first pitch at this year's Civil Rights Game at Great American Ball Park.

The game is June 20 against Obama's favorite team, the Chicago White Sox.

Reds chief executive Bob Castellini says the White House has not responded to the invitation.

The Civil Rights Game has been played in Memphis, Tenn., since 2007 as an exhibition at the end of spring training. The Reds bid and won the right to host the game in 2009 and 2010.

Pedro Martinez hasn't landed a major league contract as a free agent, in part because he's 37 and has struggled through three consecutive injury-riddled seasons. Yet the right-hander is still a favorite of baseball fans and is appreciated by his teammates on the Dominican Republic squad, which is preparing for the World Baseball Classic.

As he approached the mound in the fourth inning of an exhibition game Wednesday against the Baltimore Orioles, Martinez was showered by chants of "Pedro! Pedro!" from the pro-Dominican crowd.

The first batter he faced, Ty Wigginton, hit a popup that traveled about 10 feet in front of the plate but dropped untouched -- a tainted double. Martinez then gave up an RBI double to Felix Pie and a run-scoring single to Gregg Zaun.

But in the fifth, after walking the leadoff hitter, Martinez struck out two of the next three batters, ending his outing by blowing a called strike past Wigginton.

Martinez went 5-6 with a 5.61 ERA in 20 starts for the New York Mets last year, but he looked sharp against the Orioles, considering he had not pitched in a game since Sept. 25.

"Pedro threw well," Dominican Republic manager Felipe Alou said. "It was amazing that a guy who hasn't pitched in a real game for so long can come back and be in the strike zone. Some of the fastballs were good, some of the breaking balls were good."

Joe Saunders pitched two scoreless and pain-free innings in the Los Angeles Angels' 13-6 exhibition victory over South Africa's World Baseball Classic team on Wednesday.

He allowed two hits and struck out three in his first spring training start. Saunders had felt some shoulder soreness when he played long toss at the beginning of camp, but he said it's gone now.

Saunders is coming off a breakthrough season in which he went 17-7 with a 3.41 ERA and earned his first All-Star berth.

Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia rested his regular lineup against a South African team that featured several players just out of high school.

The Indians are expecting designated hitter Travis Hafner to make his first start Friday. He had surgery on his right shoulder in October, an injury that limited him to 57 games last season when he batted .197 with five homers and 24 RBIs.

Outfielder Dave Dellucci is also expected to appear in his first game. He slammed the trunk of his car on his left thumb a few days before camp and needed several stitches to close the cut.

Milton Bradley was back in the Cubs lineup for the first time in nearly a week and had a double in three at-bats during Chicago's split-squad, 5-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.

Bradley walked in his first at-bat for the Cubs on Feb. 26 but was removed for a pinch runner because of tightness in his quadriceps. He was the designated hitter Wednesday.

"I felt good today," Bradley said. "I'm just going to pace myself. In my first game I really didn't feel like I played because I knew I would only get one at-bat."

The Cubs were without manager Lou Piniella and several of their regulars, who are in Las Vegas for a two-game series against the White Sox. Second baseman Aaron Miles, first baseman Derrek Lee and Bradley were the only everyday players in the lineup.

Cole Hamels returned to the mound for the first time since helping the Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series and pitched two scoreless innings in a 9-2 win over Canada on Wednesday.

"It was nice to get out there against a team that's competitive," said Hamels, who went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five postseason starts in October. "These hitters are getting ready for the world classic and they want to be in prime hitting shape. [So it was about] knowing how to bear down, finding the location and throwing your pitch."

Hamels, the World Series MVP, last pitched on that rainy night in October, when Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Rays was suspended in the sixth inning. Against Canada, the 25-year-old lefty breezed through his outing with 24 pitches.

The Phillies held Hamels back earlier this spring because he threw a career-high 262 1/3 innings in the regular season and playoffs combined last season, more than any other pitcher in baseball.

"I just wanted him to get his feet on the ground, get his delivery in, his reps in," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "This is his first whack, he's got five more outings [down here] and today was great. ... it was good to see him on the mound, compete under control and get the required work in that he needed."

On April 5 against the Atlanta Braves, Hamels will take the mound in the first Opening Day start of his career, hoping to live up to the hype he produced in the postseason last fall.

BLUE JAYS RALLY BY U.S. (6:15 p.m. ET)
Strong pitching by Brad Mills and Matt Clement allowed the Toronto Blue Jays to rally against the United States.

Mills and Clement combined for six one-hit innings and minor leaguer Brien Dopirak's two-run single in the ninth gave the Blue Jays a 6-5 victory Wednesday.

Mills pitched two perfect innings before a walk to Mark DeRosa, Chris Iannetta's single and Curtis Granderson's grounder gave the United States a run.

The right-handed Clement, who hasn't pitched in the majors since rotator cuff surgery in September 2006 while with Boston, would have had three perfect innings had it not been for first baseman Kevin Millar's two-out error in the sixth.

"Both of them did a good job for us against a tough team," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "[Mills] is a tough kid out there. He has the right makeup for it. He doesn't rattle out there at all."

Playing without Alex Rodriguez, the Dominican Republic was rendered punchless by Koji Uehara and three far less notable pitchers for the Baltimore Orioles.

Uehara pitched three scoreless innings and the Dominican squad preparing for the World Baseball Classic managed only one extra-base hit -- a double by Jose Guillen -- in a 6-1 exhibition loss Wednesday.

Uehara, Baltimore's first Japanese-born player, gave up two hits and hit a batter in his second strong outing of the spring. Facing a lineup that included All-Stars David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada and Hanley Ramirez, the right-hander struck out two and threw strikes on 23 of 36 pitches.

"I understand there are a lot of big-name players. To get that kind of result, I'm happy with that," Uehara said through a translator.

The Dominican lineup was missing one important piece: Rodriguez, who left for Colorado for an exam by a hip specialist after an MRI last weekend revealed a cyst on his right hip.

Johnny Damon is taking Alex Rodriguez's latest remarks in stride, while Derek Jeter is staying silent. Rodriguez caused a stir after playing for the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, saying he would like to see Mets shortstop Jose Reyes at the top of the Yankees' batting order. Rodriguez said he wasn't disrespecting his Yankees teammates.

"Everything that comes out of Alex's mouth nowadays is going to be scrutinized," Damon said before the Yankees played the Braves on Wednesday. "I'm not going to let that bother me, and I hope Derek doesn't go that way either. We all know Jose Reyes is a great player, a great leadoff guy. He's a great player who might have 10 or 15 more years left in him. Yeah, I think there's probably 25 other teams who would want him to lead off and play short."

Jeter worked out at Steinbrenner Field before leaving to join the United States for a game Wednesday against Toronto.

"I've got nothing to say, man," Jeter said.

Damon joked that when Rodriguez rejoins the Yankees, he was going to "go out there and prove to Alex what I can do."

Texas Rangers right-hander Brandon McCarthy has been scratched from his scheduled spring training start Friday because of tightness in his right shoulder, another setback for the pitcher plagued by injuries the past two seasons.

McCarthy felt tightness during a bullpen session Monday, two days after he threw two innings in his only spring start. He had planned to throw in the bullpen again Thursday before determining how he felt, but the Rangers instead said he wouldn't start Friday.

"He's had some stiffness and we certainly don't want him to hurt himself any further," manager Ron Washington said Wednesday. "We're just going to wait and see how it goes."

Since being traded from the Chicago White Sox for John Danks before the 2007 season, McCarthy has been on the disabled list four times. He made only five starts (22 innings) last season after missing four months because of right forearm inflammation.

Padres starter Chris Young pitched two strong innings Tuesday, giving up only a solo home run to Dodgers left fielder Mitch Jones, and afterward he talked about his recovery from a frightening injury last spring.

On May 21, 2008, Young was hit in the face by an Albert Pujols line drive. The impact of the ball broke his nose and fractured his skull. Remarkably, Young returned to the mound last July, and he says now that he is all the way back.

"I feel really good," he said. "I've made, I'd say, a full recovery. I feel real fortunate to be back out there. There are really no ill effects."

Young knows how close he came to never seeing the mound again. "A little bit right or left, it's one of my eyes and could have ended my career," he said. "The severity of the cracked skull potentially could have caused some life-threatening infections. I'm extremely fortunate."

But he comes into this season with a real sense of resolve, and said he has put the injury behind him.

"I don't think I could jump back on the mound without thinking that it is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It's happened once, I got through it. I might have line drives back at me. Hopefully they won't hit me in the face again ... I'd like to think it was just a freak, one-time thing."

-- Eric Neel, ESPN The Magazine

Kyle Davies, an up-and-coming major league pitcher for the Kansas City Royals, had no need of extra cash last winter. He'd just been paid $427,000 for the 2008 season.

Yet, there he was, pouring concrete, digging ditches and operating a jackhammer under the Georgia sun on his dad's construction crew.

"What am I going to do, sit on the couch every day? You make yourself lazy," he said.

He's no stranger to construction work. Since he was about 12 or 13, Davies has spent most of his summers working for Davies General Contracting near Atlanta.

"It keeps you in shape, keeps you off the couch," said Davies, penciled in as the Royals' No. 3 starter. "The offseason can get really long. You can sit there and think about way too much. Instead of doing that, I just got up early in the morning and went to work."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.