Category archive: Tim Lincecum

CUDDYER, MAUER HELP TWINS POUND MILLWOOD (11:14 p.m. ET)
Michael Cuddyer homered, reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer had two hits and the Twins beat the Orioles 8-3.

The game was called in the top of the ninth inning because of rain.

Kevin Millwood, in line to be Baltimore's Opening Day starter, was hit hard again. He was charged with five runs and nine hits over 2 2/3 innings and has a 29.70 ERA this spring.

Scott Baker, slated to start on Opening Day for Minnesota, worked three effective innings. He limited Baltimore to five hits, including Robert Andino's homer in the third.

-- The Associated Press

CERVELLI TO WEAR SPECIAL HELMET (8:04 p.m. ET)
Francisco Cervelli is choosing safety over style.

The Yankees' backup catcher will begin wearing a bulky protective helmet similar to one briefly worn last season by Mets star David Wright after he sustained a concussion.

Cervelli talked about the change before Thursday night's game against the Braves was canceled due to rain.

Like Wright last summer, Cervelli was hit in the helmet by a 94 mph pitch that gave him a concussion -- Cervelli's second since November. Cervelli was injured Saturday and was cleared by a neurologist Monday. He is scheduled to play his first game Friday, when the Yankees travel to Viera to face the Nationals.

-- The Associated Press

RAYS MAKE FIRST SPRING CUTS (7:48 p.m. ET)
The Rays have optioned left-handed pitcher Jake McGee to the minor leagues and reassigned shortstop Tim Beckham and catcher Nevin Ashley to minor league spring training camp.

The team announced the moves after Thursday's 4-1 split-squad victory over the Blue Jays.

The Rays did not say which affiliate McGee will be assigned to.

-- The Associated Press

COOK HIT HARD IN SECOND SPRING START (7:07 p.m. ET)
Aaron Cook was hit hard in his second spring start, allowing nine hits and nine runs, five earned, in 2 2/3 innings, as the Rockies were pounded by the Rangers 16-3.

Cook hit Ian Kinsler with a 1-2 pitch during a four-run first when he gave up three hits, including a two-run homer to first baseman Chris Davis, who went 4-for-4 with 3 RBIs. Michael Young was 3-for-3 and Taylor Teagarden knocked in three runs for the Rangers, who had 23 hits.

Cook was hoping to throw 40 pitches or less but ended up throwing 73, leaving after a double by Young during a five-run second inning for Texas. Four of those runs were unearned because of a throwing error by third baseman Ian Stewart on an attempted force play.

-- The Associated Press

AFTER ADJUSTMENT, SILVA THROWS THREE SCORELESS INNINGS (7:00 p.m. ET)
Carlos Silva threw three scoreless innings after making an adjustment during a bullpen session, helping the Cubs beat the Padres 8-7.

ilva, acquired from Seattle for Milton Bradley and cash in December, allowed four hits, walked one and struck out none.

Starlin Castro, one of Chicago's top prospects, had two hits and scored three times. The shortstop hit his first homer of the spring in the fifth.

-- The Associated Press

VOTTO HOMERS FOR FIRST SPRING HIT (6:23 p.m. ET)
Joey Votto homered for his first hit of spring training, leading the Reds to a 3-1 victory over a Brewers split-squad.

Votto hit a solo shot off left-hander Chris Capuano, who is trying to resume his career after reconstructive elbow surgery. Votto was 0-for-9 before he homered in the sixth inning.

Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto pitched three scoreless innings, a big improvement over his first spring outing.

-- The Associated Press

ORTIZ CONTINUES BID TO MAKE DODGERS' ROTATION (6:22 p.m. ET)
Russ Ortiz pitched three scoreless innings and Andre Ethier and Casey Blake homered as the Dodgers beat the Royals 6-4.

Ortiz, a veteran right-hander who is a non-roster invitee, gave up two singles, struck out three and walked none. He has worked five scoreless innings and yielded four hits in his bid to make the Dodgers' rotation.

Ethier hit a three-run homer in the third off Gil Meche, while Blake homered in the fifth off rookie left-hander Edgar Osuna.

-- The Associated Press

LINCECUM ROUGHED UP VS. MARINERS (6:17 p.m. ET)
Tim Lincecum, the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, doesn't quite look like himself yet at spring training and struggled through 2 2/3 innings in the Giants' sloppy 6-2 loss to the Mariners. He isn't one bit worried.

He is finding his balance, his rhythm -- acknowledging perhaps that he's even thinking about a few too many things at once when it comes to mastering his mechanics. He's not concerned with results this early.

"Stuff-wise I felt like everything was good," Lincecum said. "I think right now everything is just location. I just try to take something positive from each outing. My curveball was breaking really well, the slider was doing well. The changeup when it was down was good, same with the fastball. The only time I really got hurt was Ichiro's hit. ... The key for me is rhythm. My mechanics kind of follow that."

The 25-year-old right-hander had his second subpar outing in as many appearances against the team he once hoped to play for as a kid growing up in Seattle. Lincecum was tagged for six hits, struck out four and walked two in his 59-pitch day. He lowered his spring ERA by nearly half, from 18.00 to 9.82.

-- The Associated Press

NAVARRO INJURES LEFT THUMB (5:58 p.m. ET)
Dioner Navarro and the Rays were hoping for the best after a simple pickoff play in the third inning. Navarro was struck by a pickoff throw during the Rays' 16-15 victory over the Pirates and departed with an injured left thumb.

Navarro was hit when Jack Taschner threw over to first. It was diagnosed as a contusion, and he returned to the Rays' complex in Port Charlotte for further evaluation.

Navarro described the ball as pushing his thumb backward.

"I've been hit so many times that I don't even know when my bone is broken," he said. "This one, maybe because I wasn't catching, hurt more than when I'm behind the plate. Hopefully, it's OK."

-- The Associated Press

JACKSON STEPS UP IN WEBB'S ABSENCE (5:54 p.m. ET)
With the uncertain status of Brandon Webb, newcomer Edwin Jackson's performance thus far this spring must be comforting for the Diamondbacks.

The right-hander, acquired in a trade with the Tigers in the offseason, blanked the Angels on one hit through three innings in Arizona's 4-1 victory. The right-hander has yet to give up a run in five innings this spring.

Jackson, an All-Star with the Tigers last year, will start the season as the Diamondbacks' No. 2 starter behind Dan Haren.

-- The Associated Press

LACKEY'S SHUTOUT STREAK CONTINUES (5:16 p.m. ET)
John Lackey is off to a nice start with the Red Sox. The right-hander threw three shutout innings in Boston's 8-2 victory over Jason Bay and the Mets.

Lackey allowed three hits in his second spring outing and has yet to allow a run since he finalized an $82.5 million, five-year contract with the Red Sox in December.

After Lackey was finished on the field, he got some work done in the bullpen before showers caused a 30-minute delay after the fourth inning.

Bay, playing in his first game against his former team, went 0-for-2 before leaving during the delay.

-- The Associated Press

JOHNSON STARTS STRONG, BUT NUNEZ ENDS BADLY (4:50 p.m. ET)
The Marlins got another strong start from ace Josh Johnson but a bad ending from their closer. Johnson struck out four in three scoreless innings before the Cardinals beat up on closer Leo Nunez during a five-run ninth for a 5-3 win.

Nunez, who saved 26 games last season, allowed four hits before leaving with two outs and runners at second and third. He was charged with five runs, three earned.

Johnson, the Marlins' Opening Day starter, struck out the side in the first inning, mixing in a changeup with a fastball that hit 94 mph.

-- The Associated Press

WHITE SOX LOOK TO KEEP BUEHRLE WELL RESTED (2:54 p.m. ET)
Ace Mark Buehrle won't have his second start of spring training until next Monday as the White Sox seek to keep him rested before the regular season begins.

Buehrle made his first start on March 5 against the Dodgers, allowing an unearned run on three hits with two strikeouts over two innings.

Jake Peavy starts Friday against the Angels in a split-squad game. Gavin Floyd and John Danks, the next two pitchers in the White Sox's projected rotation, get the call Saturday and Sunday against the Brewers and Reds.

Closer Bobby Jenks is also scheduled to pitch on the same day as Buehrle.

-- The Associated Press

GIANTS HALL OF FAMERS VISIT SPRING TRAINING (1:35 p.m. ET)
Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry gathered for a little reunion and some good-natured ribbing.

Mays, often the instigator with his gentle jabs, razzed Perry and then got it right back. It's not every day these guys turn up together at spring training. On Thursday, they spent the morning leading a team meeting for the San Francisco Giants -- something that has become a spring tradition of sorts for these old greats.

Players took turns greeting the guys before the meeting began.

-- The Associated Press

MOUSTAKAS AMONG SEVEN SENT DOWN BY ROYALS (1:30 p.m. ET)
Third baseman Mike Moustakas, the second overall pick in the 2007 draft, was among seven players reassigned to minor league camp Thursday by the Kansas City Royals.

Also sent down were outfielder David Lough, who hit .325 last season and was the Royals' 2009 minor league player of the year, and left-hander Danny Duffy, who pitched in the Futures All-Star Game and was 9-3 with a 2.98 ERA with Single-A Wilmington.

Other players sent to the minor league camp were outfielder David Robinson, first baseman Ernest Mejia, infielder Mario Lisson and catcher Steve Lerud.

All seven players were non-roster invitees. The Royals have 58 players left in camp.

-- The Associated Press

GUARDADO, ESTES CUT BY NATIONALS (10:38 a.m. ET)
Left-handers Eddie Guardado and Shawn Estes have been released by the Washington Nationals in the first round of spring training cuts.

The Nationals also reassigned six players to their minor league camp.

Guardado had pitched in two exhibition games and had an ERA of 18.00 in two innings. Estes had made one appearance, pitching one inning to an ERA of 18.00. Both veterans had been signed to minor league contracts with invitations to major league camp.

Right-handers Logan Kensing, Joel Peralta, Ryan Speier, left-hander Victor Garate, outfielder Jerry Owens and catcher Derek Norris were reassigned to the minor league camp.

-- Associated Press

IF AT FIRST, TRY, TRY AGAIN (10:06 a.m. ET)
The last time Garret Anderson played first base, he was a 21-year-old prospect playing for the Los Angeles Angels' Triple-A team in Vancouver.

Now he's a 37-year-old veteran in Dodgers camp on a minor-league deal, facing a roster logjam in the outfield and no guarantees manager Joe Torre will keep a left-handed bat on the bench. So Anderson, a longtime outfielder, is digging out his first baseman's glove and headed back to the infield, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Anderson, who signed last week and has yet to appear in a spring training game, says he's doing his best to learn the position, according to the report.

"It wouldn't be instinctive," Anderson said, according to the Times. "As an outfielder, I have an idea of where the infielders are going to be when I throw a ball in. I know where the first baseman is going to be. But to actually have that point of view of it and do it, it's going to be different. I'm going to have to learn some stuff."

-- ESPN.com news services

DUNCAN TRYING TO MAKE IT BACK WITH NATIONALS (9:52 a.m. ET)
In years past, when Chris Duncan wanted a pregame word with his father, longtime St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan, he simply walked into his dad's office. On Wednesday, they had to chat outside the batting cage when the Nationals went to play the Cardinals.

Chris Duncan, who is in Nationals camp as a non-roster invitee, spent parts of five years with St. Louis, hitting .293 with 22 home runs in 90 games during the Cardinals' World Series title run in 2006. But injuries limited Duncan's effectiveness the past three seasons. He was traded to the Red Sox in July and released after he hit less than .200 in 92 minor-league at-bats.

"It was kind of tough at the end," Duncan said. "I remember the last game I started at home I was getting booed. The bottom line was that I was not playing well and we were competing for a pennant."

Washington manager Jim Riggleman expects Duncan to compete for a reserve spot on the Opening Day roster. Riggleman has liked what he's seen so far from Duncan, who went 0 for 5 with an RBI on Wednesday, including two strikeouts in the late innings with runners in scoring position.

"In your idle time as a manager when you are scribbling out lineups and rosters on napkins, there are some scenarios where he is there and there are some where he is not," Riggleman said prior to the game. "He's competing and he's going to make it a tough decision for us."

-- The Associated Press

HARDEN LOOKS GOOD IN RANGERS DEBUT (7:24 p.m. ET)
This is a pitcher-catcher partnership that Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Rich Harden could like.

Harden, in his Texas debut, pitched two innings of one-hit ball and Saltalamacchia and Matt Brown each hit a three-run homer, leading the Rangers to a 13-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.

Harden, who spent the past 11/2 years with the Chicago Cubs, had one walk and one strikeout and gave up one unearned run.

"Rich looked great," Rangers catcher Saltalamacchia said. "He was throwing all his pitches with command, which is big, and he was just working on things. He looked comfortable. I could call anything at any time."

-- The Associated Press

MARINERS' AARDSMA TWEAKS GROIN (7:07 p.m. ET)
Seattle Mariners closer David Aardsma tweaked his groin during his one-inning outing Thursday against San Diego, but the Mariners do not believe he will miss much time.

"We don't think it's very serious and he might miss one outing hopefully and that's it," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "It was the very last pitch and he felt something in his groin. Hopefully, we caught it before it gets to be anything serious."

Aardsma worked the third inning, issuing a walk to leadoff batter Yorvit Torrealba. He then got Everth Cabrera to hit into a double play. He induced Tony Gwynn Jr. to end the inning with a left-side groundout.

Aardsma started last season as the team's set-up man, but when Brandon Morrow lost his effectiveness, Aardsma assumed the closer's role on May 15. He had 38 saves in 42 opportunities after going 128 big-league appearances without a save.

-- The Associated Press

MYERS STRUGGLES WITH CONTROL IN ASTROS DEBUT (6:11 p.m. ET)
Brett Myers showed off his new threads during the Astros' windy spring training opener.

Unfortunately, the veteran pitcher's control wasn't quite as sharp as his new uniform.

Myers, the longtime Phillies hurler, allowed three runs -- two earned -- in two innings, but the Astros rallied with nine runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and cruised to a 15-5 win over a Washington Nationals split-squad on Thursday.

Myers is projected to be the Astros' No. 3 starter behind Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez.

"The good thing was that my ball was moving a lot," Myers said. "The bad thing is I couldn't control where it was moving."

-- The Associated Press

BAY 0-2 WITH WALK, K IN METS DEBUT (4:50 p.m. ET)
Jason Bay's debut was low-key, but David Wright homered in his first at-bat and the New York Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals 17-11 on Thursday.

Bay, a former Red Sox left fielder, went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout in his first game of the spring and first live action with the Mets since signing a four-year, $66 million contract in December.

The Mets brought in Bay to add power to the lineup after he recorded 36 homers last year.

-- The Associated Press

NEW A'S HURLER JENNINGS TO SEE ACTION SOON (2:59 p.m. ET)
Oakland right-hander Jason Jennings, who signed with the Athletics on Sunday, is scheduled to pitch in a game within a week.

Jennings threw live batting practice for the first time on Wednesday and will throw one more time in game-like situations before the A's slot him into their pitching plans.

Jennings said his arm felt great the morning after his latest throwing session. The A's plan to stretch him out as a starter or long relief. He moved to the bullpen with the Texas Rangers last year.

-- The Associated Press

YANKEES DH JOHNSON SCRATCHED WITH STIFF BACK (2:41 p.m. ET)
New York Yankees designated hitter Nick Johnson was scratched from the starting lineup for Thursday's game against Philadelphia because of a stiff lower back.

Jamie Hoffmann replaced Johnson in the game that featured new Phillies ace Roy Halladay and Yankees star CC Sabathia.

Johnson was signed during the offseason to take the spot of 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, who is now with the Los Angeles Angels. Johnson hit an RBI double in the Yankees' exhibition opener Wednesday.

Johnson was hurt during batting practice, saying the problem stemmed from wearing spikes for the first time instead of turf shoes on the mats used in the cage.

"Caught a spike," Johnson said. "I felt a little something. I could have played. We'll see how I feel tomorrow."

-- The Associated Press

RANGERS SIGN CRUZ, ANDRUS, 12 OTHERS (2:37 p.m. ET)
Outfielder Nelson Cruz and shortstop Elvis Andrus are among 14 Texas Rangers who signed one-year contracts Thursday before the team's first spring training game.

With the moves, the Rangers have every player on their 40-man roster signed for the 2010 season.

Cruz, who hit .260 with 33 home runs and 76 RBIs in 128 games last season, got the biggest contract Thursday at $440,000. Andrus got $418,420 after being one of the AL's top rookies (.267, 33 stolen bases).

Jarrod Saltalamacchia ($418,580) and Taylor Teagarden ($407,010), catchers competing for the starting job, also signed.

The others who signed, all for at least the $400,000 major league minimum, were infielder Joaquin Arias; first baseman Chris Davis; left-hander Matt Harrison; right-handers Eric Hurley, Warner Madrigal, Guillermo Moscoso, Darren O'Day, Alexi Ogando and Pedro Strop; and catcher Max Ramirez.

-- The Associated Press

COMMERCIAL ORDEAL (10:30 a.m. ET)
Big leaguers Ken Griffey Jr., Torii Hunter, Ryan Braun, Orlando Hudson and Carl Crawford appear in a new TV commercial for Dick's Sporting Goods. The ad shows Griffey and Hunter racing through the store, and concludes with the other players arguing vehemently over whether Hunter was out on a tag play with Griffey at home plate.

The five players filmed the spot at a Dick's store in Dallas in the first week in February. "It was an all-day event,'' Braun said. "It's amazing how much goes into a 30-second commercial.''

Hunter said he spent almost 11 hours at the store -- several more than any of the other participants.

"They all left after six or seven hours, and I was still there doing all the running in the store,'' Hunter said. "I was sweating so much, it took them 30 minutes to get the sweat off me. Man, it was a workout.''

Wherever Hunter goes this spring, somebody asks him, "Torii -- safe or out?''

"It was Griffey's commercial, so it's going to seem like I was out,'' Hunter said. "But I was safe. I got in there.''

-- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com senior baseball writer

THERE GOES MY HERO (8:47 a.m. ET)
Tim Lincecum has back-to-back National League Cy Young Awards and a two-year, $23 million contract in his back pocket to show for it. But that hasn't made him jaded about meeting a childhood hero.

Lincecum, a Seattle native, was talking to reporters after throwing an inning against the Mariners when Ken Griffey Jr. -- a player he rooted for as a boy -- dropped by to say hello.

"Lincecum, what's up? I just wanted to say hi," Griffey said, extending his hand.

"It's a pleasure," Lincecum replied, looking awestruck as he shook Griffey's hand and watched him walk away. "It was nice meeting you," he added as Griffey headed for the Mariners' clubhouse.

Lincecum paused, let out a breath and said, "Man. Wow. He just came over. That was pretty cool."

He paused again. Then, he asked the media surrounding him, "What were we just talking about?"

Later, Lincecum acknowledged the experience took him by surprise.

"I followed him. I'm a Seattle native, so getting to watch him do his thing, actually all those guys -- [Jay] Buhner, [Joey] Cora was awesome," he said. "Just to have a guy like that come over, it caught me off guard."

-- ESPN.com news services

HAMELS EXPERIMENTING WITH SINKER (8:11 a.m. ET)
Cole Hamels' bread-and-butter pitches have been his fastball and changeup. This spring, the Phillies starter has been working on sharpening his curveball and adding a cutter as well.

But Hamels is also tinkering with a fifth pitch -- a sinker. He's tried it out during games before, with mixed results, and now wants to see if it can become a permanent part of his arsenal, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

"A few games, I would throw it, but it would get hit, and I would say, 'Forget this,'" Hamels said, according to the report. "But it's still something I'm throwing in the bullpen and am working with."

Hamels and Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee don't remember how many times Hamels tried throwing a sinker last year.

"If you're trying to pin me down to specific dates, I don't remember, but he threw it more than you might think," Dubee said, according to the report. "It could be a good pitch for him."

-- ESPN.com news services

I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW (7:51 a.m. ET)
A vision test during a team physical exam has confirmed what Brewers outfielder Corey Hart has suspected since last year -- he's nearsighted.

"It kind of started last year, but I didn't really think about it," he said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I just kept playing. The ball was a little fuzzy at times, but I didn't think it was that big of a deal."

Rather than eyeglasses or contact lenses, Hart plans to wear prescription goggles in the field to correct his vision, according to the report. He's hoping he can get accustomed to wearing them during spring training.

"I'm hoping they work for me," he said, according to the report. "I don't want to have any trouble picking the ball up. Right now, it's a little fuzzy."

Why wasn't the problem caught last year? "I guessed right [on what letters were shown on the eye chart]," Hart said, according to the report. "This year, I guessed wrong. By the third letter, I was like, 'Maybe H?'"

-- ESPN.com news services

THAT'S A GOOD HEAD ON KURODA's SHOULDERS (7:34 p.m. ET)
Dodgers manager Joe Torre has been impressed with pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, especially with his resiliency. Kuroda spent just 21 days on the disabled list last year after getting hit on the front right side of his head by a comebacker and suffering a concussion.

"For him to come back as quickly as he did -- and he did have some testers during rehab with a line drive through the middle and a broken bat that came toward him -- I thought he recovered from that well," Torre said.

Kuroda figures to be the Dodgers' No. 3 starter this season behind Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley as he enters the final year of a three-year $35.3 million contract. On Thursday, he will have an extended throwing session before making his debut in a spring game Tuesday.

"I just have to keep moving forward. I can't give up," Kuroda said. "This game is my destiny so I just have to move forward."
-- The Associated Press

FANS, AND A LEGEND, LINE UP FOR LINCECUM (7:08 p.m. ET)
San Francisco Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum, the NL Cy Young Award in back-to-back seasons, had a not-so-Cy outing in his spring debut against the Seattle Mariners.

Lincecum gave up three runs -- two earned -- on two hits while throwing 33 pitches in one inning. But fans didn't care about the numbers. They just wanted to see him pitch and get an autograph from the 25-year-old who signed a two-year, $23 million contract just days before reporting to camp.

Lincecum obliged for dozens of fans on his way to the visitors' clubhouse at the Peoria Sports Complex. Later he sat on a stool in front of his corner dressing stall in the clubhouse, where he was surrounded by a large group of reporters. A member of the Mariners infiltrated the group, extended his arm and shook Lincecum's hand.

"What's up?" center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. said.
-- The Associated Press

HUDSON, HEYWARD LOOK SHARP (5:09 p.m. ET)
Tim Hudson pitched two sharp innings and rookie Jason Heyward doubled and scored as the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 9-5 in a Grapefruit League game.

Hudson missed most of the 2009 season after recovering from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander said he threw pain-free against the Mets and went to the bullpen for more tossing after facing only six batters.

Heyward, a 20-year-old outfielder considered by many the best prospect in baseball, walked twice, singled and stole a base Tuesday against the Mets in their exhibition opener.
-- The Associated Press

BONDERMAN SIGHT FOR SORE TIGERS EYES (4:42 p.m. ET)

Jeremy Bonderman pitched two shutout innings in the Tigers' 7-6 exhibition win over the Blue Jays after missing most of the last two seasons because of a blood clot in his right shoulder that required surgery.

"I was just all over the place. The adrenaline got me out of sync a little bit," Bonderman said. "I was able to get out of it and (in) the second inning I just kind of tried to stay within myself and work on using the mechanics I've been working on, just trying to stay on top of the ball and let my arm catch up."

Bonderman, a 14-game winner in 2005 and again in 2006, and winner of 11 in 2007 before having surgery in June '08, struck out three and allowed one hit. He allowed a single and a walk to the first two batters he faced before striking out Adam Lind and, after a double steal, striking out Vernon Wells and getting Lyle Overbay on a routine grounder. He had a 1-2-3 second inning.
-- The Associated Press

HARANG TO START OPENING DAY FOR REDS (2:01 p.m. ET)
For the fifth straight season, right-hander Aaron Harang will be the Cincinnati Reds' Opening Day starting pitcher.

Manager Dusty Baker said he wrestled with the decision, but chose Harang instead of Bronson Arroyo after talking it over with both pitchers. The Reds open at home on Monday, April 5 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The honor ties Harang with Pete Donahue (1923-27) and Mario Soto (1982-86) for the most consecutive Opening Day starts in team history. Soto holds the club record with six Opening Day starts overall.

Harang was excited about the news, but said he believed Arroyo deserved the honor. Opening Day is a big annual event in Cincinnati, with a downtown parade and on-field pregame ceremonies.

"You have to have a different approach with all the hoopla," Harang said. "After you've done it once, you know how to do it."

Harang is 1-3 in his previous four Opening Day starts. He got the win over the Cubs in 2007, and took losses against the Mets in 2009, the Diamondbacks in 2008 and the Cubs in 2006.
-- ESPN.com news services

JAYS' MARCUM, MCGOWAN PROGRESSING (12:29 p.m. ET)
The Blue Jays appear to be very encouraged by the progress of two injured pitchers from 2009, Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan.

The ball "is really coming out of Marcum's hand," said manager Cito Gaston. And McGowan, at times this spring, has shown some of the dominant stuff that he had two years ago.

The Jays have three potential closers in camp with Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor and Scott Downs. Gaston said spring training will determine who will close, but said he could mix and match with all three of them in the late innings.
-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

COMPETITION GOOD IN PIRATES CAMP (12:25 p.m. ET)
The Pirates have a lot of competition in camp, "and competition is good," said manager John Russell.

Jeff Clement will be given the first shot to win the job at first base, but if he doesn't play well enough, the Pirates can play Ryan Church in right field and move Garrett Jones from right field to first, which is his most natural position.

Lastings Milledge is scheduled to be the everyday left fielder, but only if he takes the job this spring. He came to camp in better shape, and said he is taking nothing for granted.

Several positions could change if 23-year-old third baseman Pedro Alvarez continues to progress. He has one year in pro ball, and has never played at Triple-A, but he could be up sometime this summer.
-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

GIANTS' SANCHEZ DOUBTFUL FOR OPENING DAY (10:27 a.m. ET)
San Francisco Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez is not expecting to pick up a baseball bat for another week or two as he recovers from shoulder surgery, making it unlikely that he will be ready for Opening Day.

"I would agree with that because I'm missing a lot of time," Sanchez said Tuesday, according to the San Jose Mercury-News. "The closer we get, the harder it is to [envision] getting back by then."

Manager Bruce Bochy agrees with that assessment.

"I'd go with very doubtful," Bochy said, according to the report. "As much as he's moving along, that would be rushing him. We'd have concerns about that. And besides, we're covered. We have experienced guys to help out there."

The Giants could use Juan Uribe or Mark DeRosa at second until Sanchez is ready to return.
-- ESPN.com news services

CABRERA OPENS UP ABOUT ALCOHOL USE (10:16 a.m. ET)
Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera says an inability to handle stress or communicate with those who care about him led him to use alcohol.

Cabrera, who sought help and gave up drinking after an embarrassing alcohol-related incident at the end of last season, told reporters that he held things inside instead and was ill-prepared to handle the pressures of the game.

"Everything was built up inside of me," Cabrera said. "I was angry at everybody."

"I would talk to nobody," Cabrera added. "But now, I go talk with my wife and my dad and go into everything. But I would talk to nobody, and so most people didn't know me.

"Now, I have conversations and I feel better. I communicate better. People can get to know me, and what's inside of me," he said.
-- ESPN.com news services

null

March, 16, 2009
03/16/09
9:09
AM ET
SCHMIDT OUT OF RUNNING ... FOR NOW (9:18 p.m. ET)
Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said that Jason Schmidt, who made his second start of the spring, is no longer a candidate to begin the season in the rotation because there is not enough time for his rehab from shoulder surgery.

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

Schmidt threw 42 pitches in two scoreless innings against the A's. With three weeks to go before Opening Day, Torre said there's not enough time to get Schmidt ready to take the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

"This is all about some time down the road, getting him back, but at this point I have no idea when that is," Torre said. "After what he's been through with the surgeries and the whole thing, I think we can look at it as continuing rehabbing."

Schmidt, 36, has not pitched in the majors since June 16, 2007. The three-time All-Star has undergone two shoulder operations since then.

"I'm just trying to get out on the mound," he said. "I'm not looking at opening day or five days from that. I just want to eventually pitch in a game in Los Angeles and pitch in the big leagues. I'm not setting a timetable."

BEDARD BACK ON MOUND (9:10 p.m. ET)
Erik Bedard had a simple goal for his first outing since March 5.

"I was just trying to feel healthy," he said.

Bedard pitched one inning in the Mariners' 4-3 victory over the Dodgers on Monday, allowing one run and two hits. The left-hander, who had been sidelined with sore buttocks, also issued a walk.

"I was just throwing pitches, trying to get people out as I do usually," he said. "My [butt] feels good and that's that. Just warming up I knew it was fine."

LINCECUM SCRATCHED WITH FLU (9:08 p.m. ET)
Giants ace Tim Lincecum was scratched from Monday's scheduled start against the Angels because of the flu.

Lincecum said he's improving and manager Bruce Bochy said the right-hander is now set to start Wednesday against the Cubs. Lincecum will take Randy Johnson's place -- the Big Unit will skip a turn because of biceps soreness.

"Just precautionary," Bochy said. "It's just a little cranky. That's all normal spring training stuff."

Lincecum is scheduled to start the regular-season opener April 7 against Milwaukee.

The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner has not allowed an earned run while retiring 20 of the 22 batters he has faced in three exhibition starts. He has given up one hit and one walk.

LOOPER FINE AFTER LINER TO HEAD (7:49 p.m. ET)
One injury nearly led to another for right-hander Braden Looper.

Looper, who has been sidelined with a strained oblique muscle, took a glancing line drive off the back of his head while throwing the first of two innings in a simulated game. Looper said it didn't faze him and he finished the outing.

"I felt great today physically, even if I wasn't as sharp as you would like," Looper said.

SAMARDZIJA BACK TO BULLPEN? (7:47 p.m. ET)
Jeff Samardzija had one more start to prove he deserved serious consideration for the Cubs' starting rotation. He likely made manager Lou Piniella's decision easy.

Bill Hall hit a three-run homer off Samardzija, who gave up five runs in the first inning after getting the first two outs, and the Brewers beat Chicago 9-6 on Monday.

Piniella plans to begin revealing the Cubs' rotation later this week after giving everyone one more start and Samardzija most likely will be in the bullpen because of the emergence of left-hander Sean Marshall as the leading candidate to be the fifth starter.

Samardzija went 1-0 with a 2.28 ERA in 26 relief appearances last season for the Cubs and said he'd be happy in any role.

"I don't know what's going to be next for me, but obviously I'll be ready to pitch. I've said before I don't mind pitching whenever or wherever. I'll just be ready to go whenever they call my name," Samardzija said. "I really don't have a preference, like I said with my pitches and everything and where they're at, I'm pretty happy with them, so I feel like I'll leave it up to the upstairs to make a decision what they feel is best for the team."

PIMENTEL OUT AT LEAST 6 WEEKS (7:31 p.m. ET)
Royals right-hander Julio Pimentel will be out at least six weeks with an elbow injury and possibly the season, if surgery is required.

The Royals say Pimentel has a nondisplaced bone spur fracture in his pitching elbow. The bone spur is close to the ulnar collateral ligament.

Manager Trey Hillman says the 23-year-old is waiting for a second opinion on whether he needs surgery.

Pimentel is one of Kansas City's top pitching prospects. He suffered the injury while throwing a pitch Friday against Hank Blalock of the Rangers.

Pimentel was acquired in a 2006 trade with the Dodgers.

CARDS NO CLOSER TO NAMING CLOSER (6:48 p.m. ET)
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa could go with Chris Perez, Jason Motte or Ryan Franklin, who had 17 saves in 25 chances last year when he took over from Jason Isringhausen, as closer. Or he could go with a mix of all three.

"I think we're all getting a little tired of people asking who's the closer," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "We've been pretty up front that we're going to use these three weeks."

Franklin believes La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan know whom they want. The manager, however, isn't tipping his hand.

"You just see how they pitch and the impression they give you, and if one guy emerges he becomes the closer," La Russa said. "If he doesn't, they all kind of share it."

CANO COULD PLAY FIELD FRIDAY (6:42 p.m. ET)
Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano had an MRI Monday that found bursitis in his right shoulder and he could play the field on Friday.

Cano will pinch hit or be a designated hitter until then. He had a pinch-hit single during the sixth inning of New York's 12-0 win over the Phillies on Monday.

"It feels better," Cano said. "I'll be ready in a few days."

Cano has experienced tightness behind his right shoulder all spring training. He resumed playing catch before Monday's game.

Cano didn't tell the Yankees about his shoulder problem before joining the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. The Yankees told Cano, who is taking anti-inflammatory medication and performing strength-building exercises, that the next time he has any problem to let the training staff know.

LEYLAND NOT SURE WHEN ZUMAYA WILL RETURN (5:53 p.m. ET)
Tigers manager Jim Leyland isn't sure whether injury-plagued reliever Joel Zumaya will be ready for Opening Day.

"I have no predictions," Leyland said Monday.

A day earlier, Leyland said Zumaya probably would not be ready for the start of the regular season on April 6.

Zumaya is a talented but injury-prone 24-year-old power-pitching right-hander who has missed much of the past two seasons. He was scratched from an intrasquad game Saturday because of a neck cramp.

By Monday, Zumaya apparently had improved.

"He feels better," Leyland said. "I'll leave it at that."

BYRNES' RETURN DELAYED (5:39 p.m. ET)
Eric Byrnes' return to the Diamondbacks' lineup has been delayed a few days.

Arizona manager Bob Melvin had thought about putting Byrnes in the lineup when the Diamondbacks play Oakland in Phoenix on Tuesday. Instead, the outfielder will play in a minor league game.

"He wanted to play, I wanted him to play, but it's probably the smart thing to do to make sure we cover all the bases before he gets out on the field," Melvin said before Arizona played Colorado on Monday.

The Diamondbacks have Thursday off, and Melvin said Byrnes, recovering from hamstring injuries that sidelined him for all but 52 games last season, could play Friday when they face the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe.

"It makes sense," Byrnes said. "I'm just anxious to be out there, but I think the best thing is to totally listen to the trainers at this point. It's been a nine-month process, so I put my trust in them and I have no problem with it."

ALVAREZ AMONG BUCS CUTS (5:28 p.m. ET)
Third baseman Pedro Alvarez, the Pirates' top draft pick last year, was among eight players sent back to their minor league camp.

Alvarez and right-hander Ron Uviedo were optioned to Class A Lynchburg. Right-hander Jimmy Barthmaier was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Right-hander Jeff Sues and catcher Steve Lerud were optioned to Double-A Altoona.

Right-handers Juan Mateo and Daniel McCutchen and infielder Shelby Ford were reassigned to minor league camp as the Pirates trimmed the number of players in their major league camp to 45.

Alvarez signed a major league contract with Pittsburgh last fall, so he already was on the 40-man roster when he reported to his first spring training camp.

"It was a lot of fun," said the 22-year-old Alvarez, who was 8-for-18 (.444) with one homer, five RBIs and three strikeouts this spring. "I didn't really know what to expect. I took it all in, and it was great. It was a great thrill and I learned a lot."

FRANCO TAKES ON NEW ROLE (5:26 p.m. ET)
Julio Franco is joining the Mets -- as a minor league manager, not as a player.

The 50-year-old, who had 2,586 hits during 23 major league seasons from 1982 to 2007, will manage the rookie-level Gulf Coast Mets. In addition, New York hired Mike DiFelice as manager of the Kingsport Mets.

Franco, who played for the Mets from 2006 to '07, will be joined at Gulf Coast by pitching coach Frank Fultz, hitting coach Tom McCraw and additional instructor Luis Rojas.

DiFelice spent 13 seasons in the major leagues and was with the Mets from 2005 to '07 before spending last year with Tampa Bay. He'll be assisted by hitting coach Ryan Ellis, pitching coach Jonathan Hurst and bench coach Juan Lopez.

In addition, New York agreed to a minor league contract with 34-year-old infielder Junior Spivey, who hasn't appeared in the major leagues since 2005. He played in two games with Boston during spring training last year, then was released.

RAMIREZ HELD OUT OF LINEUP (4:29 p.m. ET)
All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez was held out of the Florida Marlins' lineup Monday against Washington because of discomfort in his right shoulder.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Ramirez should be all right after a couple of days. Florida is off Tuesday.

Ramirez has played two games since returning Friday from the World Baseball Classic after the Dominican Republic was eliminated. He went 1-for-2 with a double while playing shortstop on Friday and then 0-for-3 as the designated hitter on Saturday.

Right fielder Cody Ross was scratched because of tightness in his left calf.

Emilio Bonifacio was at shortstop and Alejandro De Aza played right field against the Nationals.

ROCKIES DEMOTE HIRSH (4:06 p.m. ET)
The Colorado Rockies have optioned pitcher Jason Hirsh and seven other players to the minor leagues.

The right-handed Hirsh, who was vying for the fifth spot in the rotation, is 0-1 with a 12.19 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this spring.

Colorado also optioned pitchers Samuel Deduno, Ryan Mattheus, Shane Lindsay and Steven Register to the minors, along with infielders Hector Gomez, Chris Nelson and Eric Young Jr.

The team reassigned pitchers Cedrick Bowers, Brandon Hynick and Matt Daley, catcher Michael McKenry and outfielder Matt Miller to minor league camp.

With the moves, the Rockies now have 43 players on the major league spring training roster.

PEDROIA IDLE UNTIL THURSDAY (3:08 p.m. ET)
Manager Terry Francona said Dustin Pedroia won't be allowed to participate in any baseball activities until Thursday, when he's expected to take batting practice after suffering his abdominal strain during the World Baseball Classic.

Asked if he'd heaved a sigh of relief that Pedroia's injury isn't more serious, Francona replied: "Yes, because originally, we thought it was an oblique [strain]. And we've all been around long enough to know they linger. You hope they're day to day, and they end up being week to week, if not month to month. So yeah, we were relieved."

In other Red Sox injury news, Francona said John Smoltz will throw his first bullpen session of the spring next Wednesday, March 25. Smoltz, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, has been doing his throwing off flat ground, but Francona said he's now making his last 15 pitches from the mound -- with the catcher standing, not squatting -- just to give him a feel for throwing off a mound again.

Francona also said Brad Penny would pitch "a couple of innings" in a minor league spring training game Wednesday.

-- Jayson Stark, ESPN.com

WILLIAMS' COMEBACK STALLS (2:07 p.m. ET)
Jerome Williams, trying to return to the majors after his once-promising career was stalled by weight problems, was among eight players the Athletics sent to the minor leagues.

The 27-year-old Williams gave up four runs in nine innings in four games. He won 17 games for the Giants before his 23rd birthday, but he had been bouncing between organizations for four years, pitching in an independent league last season.

"Jerome has come a long way from where he was a year ago," manager Bob Geren said. "He put himself in the mix. Right now the innings just aren't there for him."

The A's also sent down right-hander Kevin Cameron, who had a 2.79 ERA in 48 games for the Padres in 2007. A non-roster invitee, Cameron allowed two earned runs in 3 2/3 innings this spring training

Oakland optioned right-hander Ryan Webb and infielders Jeff Baisley and Eric Patterson to Triple-A Sacramento. The A's reassigned right-hander James Simmons and infielders Joe Dillon and Sean Doolittle.

BRAVES' ROSTER DOWN TO 44 (1:11 p.m. ET)
The Atlanta Braves have optioned right-handers Steve Marek, James Parr, Todd Redmond and Luis Valdez to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Left-handers Francisley Bueno and Mariano Gomez and catchers Phillip Britton and Matt Kennelly were reassigned to the Braves' minor league camp.

Atlanta has 44 players left in its major league camp.

NATIONALS TRIM ROSTER TO 47 (11:09 a.m. ET)
The Washington Nationals have optioned right-hander Tyler Clippard and outfielders Justin Maxwell to Triple-A Syracuse.

The moves trimmed the team's spring roster to 47 players.

Right-hander Marco Estrada and outfielder Leonard Davis also were optioned to Syracuse, while right-hander Luis Atilano and infielder Ian Desmond were optioned to Double-A Harrisburg.

The Nationals also reassigned right-hander Josh Towers, catcher Gustavo Molina, infielders Freddie Bynum and Joel Guzman, and outfielder Jorge Padilla to minor league camp.

BUILT-UP LUDWICK SCUFFLING AT PLATE (9:25 a.m. ET)
All-Star outfielder Ryan Ludwick added extra muscle during the offseason in a quest for even bigger numbers than his 37 homers and 113 RBIs last season.

A 5-for-31 start in spring training wasn't what he had in mind, and he's convinced his upgraded physique isn't the root of his slump.

"I don't think so," Ludwick said Sunday in Jupiter, Fla. "I'm not too worried about it. I've got three weeks and I'm doing the things I need to do to get ready, and just taking it day by day."

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa thinks it's just a matter of the 30-year-old Ludwick settling into his swing. He noted Ludwick reported in great condition and weight trained as a baseball player, not as a bodybuilder.

"I think he lifted smart," the manager said. "He's not bound up at all. He's working every at-bat, tweaking it, searching for that good feeling."

HART EMPHASIZES CONDITIONING AFTER SLIDE (9:18 a.m. ET)
Right fielder Corey Hart sizzled last summer before slumping in September.

This season, Hart hopes he can contribute at the plate when it counts.

"My body was just drained and tired," Hart said Sunday in Phoenix. "I wasn't used to being out there that much. It's the most I'd played, 100 more at-bats than I'd ever had. I was worn down. Physically, I didn't prepare for that kind of season."

Hart hit .289 with 15 homers and 58 RBIs to make his first All-Star appearance after winning the fan vote for the final outfielder spot. He began to struggle soon after, culminating with a miserable final month of the season. In September, he hit .173 with no homers and 10 RBIs and struck out 21 times compared to just three walks.

"I was pressing," Hart said. "I was trying to find it and of course, I was a starter and didn't want to come out of the lineup. It's one of those things, you work in the offseason physically and mentally. I just didn't quite get it done last year."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.