Category archive: Johnny Cueto

DEWITT TO START AT SECOND FOR DODGERS (10:31 p.m. ET)

The Dodgers have chosen Blake DeWitt as their Opening Day second baseman and knuckleballer Charlie Haeger as their No. 5 starter.

Manager Joe Torre delivered the news to both players when they reported to Dodger Stadium on Thursday for the first of the team's final three exhibition games.

Before Torre and general manager Ned Colletti let DeWitt know he had made the club, they played an April Fool's joke.

DeWitt said Torre told him he was being sent to Triple-A Albuquerque. After DeWitt admitted he didn't know the date, Torre told him it was April 1.

Ronnie Belliard and newly acquired Jamey Carroll will serve as infield backups.

-- The Associated Press

PEAVY SAYS HE FEELS AS GOOD AS '07 (9:53 p.m. ET)

Jake Peavy declared he feels as good as he did in his 2007 Cy Young Award season despite giving up two home runs in four innings in his final spring start as the White Sox lost to Triple-A Charlotte 4-3.

Peavy gave up three runs and four hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. Peavy struck out six through three scoreless innings before surrendering home runs to Stefan Gartrell and Josh Kroeger on cut fastballs. He left after throwing 68 pitches.

Mark Kotsay and Carlos Quentin homered for Chicago, which played its regulars four innings before finishing the game with many players from Class A Winston-Salem.

Jeff Marquez allowed two runs and five hits in five innings for the Knights.

-- The Associated Press

REDS DELAY ROSTER CUTS (9:03 p.m. ET)

The Reds' plans to slash their spring training roster have been pushed back another day.

The Reds made two moves, optioning right-hander Carlos Fisher to Triple-A Louisville and reassigning catcher Corky Miller to their minor league camp. They're left with 38 players in camp -- 13 over the limit for Opening Day.

General manager Walt Jocketty had indicated the club would substantially reduce the roster on Thursday. However, the team wasn't able to tell some of the players about its plans before they left the training complex following a 7-6 win over Texas, so the rest of the moves were put off for another day.

-- The Associated Press

ANDERSON TO TRY TO BECOME PITCHER (8:57 p.m. ET)

Outfielder Brian Anderson is going to give pitching a try.

Anderson signed a one-year, $700,000 free-agent contract with the Royals in the offseason after finishing 2009 with the Red Sox. But instead of taking a minor league assignment as an outfielder, the former first-round draft pick opted to go to the low minors and work his way back as a pitcher.

Royals manager Trey Hillman says he's not sure how the transition will work "but it's going to start at the very bottom."

Anderson last pitched in college for Arizona, where he appeared in 17 games and had a 5.40 ERA in 21 2/3 innings.

Selected by the White Sox with the 15th overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft, Anderson has a .227 average in five major league seasons with 22 homers and 80 RBIs.

-- The Associated Press

CUETO STRUGGLES THROUGH BACK PROBLEMS (7:53 p.m. ET)

Right-hander Johnny Cueto had trouble getting his back loose and struggled through four innings, but Scott Rolen hit a homer and sacrifice fly that rallied the Reds to a 7-6 victory over the Rangers.

Cueto hasn't had any issues with his back this spring and didn't think the problem was serious. He gave up 10 hits and five runs in four innings. He also hit two batters.

Rolen hit a two-run homer off closer Frank Francisco, who started the game and gave up four hits in his one inning. Reds minor leaguer Daniel Dorn singled home a run in the seventh and hit a two-out solo homer in the ninth off left-hander Richard Bleier to win it.

-- The Associated Press

SORIANO SPOILS FRANCIS' BEST OUTING THIS SPRING (6:33 p.m. ET)

Jeff Francis, who missed last season after undergoing shoulder surgery, pitched five scoreless innings for Colorado before Alfonso Soriano's two-run homer in the sixth lifted the Cubs to a 2-0 victory over the Rockies.

Francis entered with a 7.27 ERA but Colorado's No. 2 starter held the Cubs to three singles and three walks in his best outing. The left-hander won 17 games in 2007 before going 4-10 the next year as his shoulder became problematic.

Soriano, who slumped most of March, capped his three-hit day with a homer off Matt Daley. Coming off his worst season -- .241 with 20 HRs and 55 RBIs -- Soriano has only two homers and five RBIs this spring.

Cubs starter Carlos Silva allowed six hits over five scoreless innings.

-- The Associated Press

WHITE SOX'S ELARTON OUTDUELS MARINERS' SNELL (6:28 p.m. ET)

Scott Elarton pitched two scoreless innings in his first start since 2008 and a squad of White Sox minor leaguers roughed up Ian Snell in a 9-4 win over the Mariners.

Elarton, who hasn't pitched in the majors since the Indians placed him on the disabled list in July 2008 for what the club then called a non-baseball medical condition, signed a minor league deal this week. He gave up one hit and struck out one.

Snell, the Mariners' No. 2 starter, gave up six runs and 10 hits while striking out five.

The White Sox's big league roster left Thursday morning for exhibition games in Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta.

-- The Associated Press

LACKEY WALKS FIRST BATTER OF SPRING (5:58 p.m. ET)

John Lackey walked his first batter in 20 innings this spring and gave up a run in the Red Sox's 5-3 win over the Twins.

The Red Sox scored two runs in the eighth inning off Twins reliever Ron Mahay. Scott Schoeneweis pitched a scoreless eighth for the Red Sox.

Lackey went five innings and gave up six hits, including a homer to Jim Thome. He walked six and struck out two.

"I thought he got on some fastballs," manager Terry Francona said. "I think like [Jon] Lester and [Josh] Beckett, he's ready for the season. I think he's raring to go. I think he was chomping at the bit a little bit today even."

-- The Associated Press

MOYER, PHILLIES CLOSE OUT SPRING SCHEDULE (4:58 p.m. ET)

Jamie Moyer pitched six strong innings and the Phillies closed out their spring training schedule with a 4-2 win over the Pirates.

Moyer, who was named the fifth starter two days earlier, gave up solo home runs to Ryan Church and Ryan Doumit but held Pittsburgh in check the rest of the way. The 47-year-old left-hander scattered six hits while striking out three and walking none.

Moyer, who underwent three offseason operations, enters his 24th major league season healthy and coming off a strong spring. In six starts, including three B games, Moyer had a 2.02 ERA while striking out 23 and walking just one in 26 2/3 innings.

-- The Associated Press

ROBERTSON DEBUTS WITH MARLINS (4:34 p.m. ET)

Newly acquired Nate Robertson allowed one earned run on two hits in seven innings and even drove in a run in the Marlins' 3-1 victory over the Cardinals.

"I got here yesterday with a full car, my family is back in Detroit and I'm pitching seven innings in the final game of the Grapefruit League," Robertson said. "But I'm excited to be here. If there was a team to go to, it's definitely the team that drafted me and got me going into my professional career."

Robertson, acquired in a trade with the Tigers on Wednesday, surrendered a run in the fifth when Ryan Ludwick led off with a double to left, stole third and scored on David Freese's groundout to short.

"What I saw today I liked," Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He threw a lot of strikes. I think he went seven innings and didn't get to 90 pitches."

-- The Associated Press

ASTROS' JOHNSON HITS SEVENTH SPRING HOMER (4:31 p.m. ET)

Chris Johnson hit his team-leading seventh home run of the spring, but the Astros dropped a game to a Tigers split-squad 4-2.

Houston reliever Brandon Lyon allowed three runs on four hits in one inning.

-- The Associated Press

TEIXEIRA RETURNS AFTER TWO-GAME ABSENCE (4:05 p.m. ET)

Mark Teixeira doubled and singled after missing two games with a sore elbow as the Yankees beat the Blue Jays 5-2.

Teixeira wore a protective shield on his right elbow, which was bruised when he was hit by a pitch Monday against Baltimore. Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher each had a pair of singles for New York.

Right-hander A.J. Burnett allowed two runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings for the Yankees, including Jose Bautista's home run on his second pitch.

New York's Joba Chamberlain pitched in consecutive games for the first time this spring.

-- The Associated Press

MAINE GIVES UP SIX HITS TO NATS (3:18 p.m. ET)

Mets right-hander John Maine pitched through stomach problems and allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings as the Washington Nationals defeated New York 9-3 Thursday.

Maine, who will pitch second in the Mets' rotation, gave up six hits and walked four.

Josh Willingham hit a two-run homer for Washington in the fourth off Maine to make it 3-2, and the New York pitcher couldn't get through the fifth.

He walked two to start the fifth. Adam Dunn followed with an RBI single and Willingham drove in another run on a ground-rule double to take the lead.

-- The Associated Press

SWEENEY LIKELY PART OF MARINERS' ROSTER (2:28 p.m. ET)

Five-time All-Star and camp long shot Mike Sweeney has likely made the Seattle Mariners as a pinch-hitter and backup first baseman.

The news came as part of the Mariners' announcement infielder Ryan Garko was claimed off waivers by Texas. Left-hander Garrett Olson was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.

The 36-year-old Sweeney has kept his spring batting average well above .500. He also has picked up where he left off last season by mentoring young players, and has been a popular clubhouse leader.

-- The Associated Press

INDIANS NAME HUFF FIFTH STARTER (12:48 p.m. ET)

David Huff is the Cleveland Indians' No. 5 starter.

Right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who was in competition for the job, was optioned to Triple-A Columbus.

Huff gave up one run and five hits in seven innings to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday in his final spring audition. The 25-year-old led Cleveland with 11 wins a year ago as a rookie after making his major-league debut on May 17.

Carrasco, 23, was one of four players acquired from Philadelphia in the trade that sent 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee to the Phillies in July. He had a 12-inning scoreless stretch earlier this spring and compiled a 4.60 ERA overall in four outings.

-- The Associated Press

NEW DAY FOR TIGERS (7:24 p.m. ET)
Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird is especially eager to get going this season.

Laird hit .225 last year after the Tigers acquired him from Texas, then was arrested in late December at a Phoenix Suns home game after a brawl.

Laird said he pleaded no contest and has been attending anger management classes. He said he wanted to have the legal matter cleared up before starting spring training.

"The sooner it was over, the better," Laird said Tuesday. "I don't really want to get into it, but it's behind me and now I get to concentrate on baseball."

Laird said he spent most of last season working on learning the Tigers' pitching staff. Manager Jim Leyland said Laird called a good game last year but that he expected him to hit at least .260 in 2010. Reserve catcher Alex Avila batted .279 in 29 games over the last two months of the season.

"We need to get more production out of (Laird)," Leyland said, "He knows our pitching staff now and if he can raise his average by about 30 points, that's all we need. We know he can catch. I love the way he handles our pitching staff."

Leyland and the Tigers held their first full-squad workout under overcast skies and manager, who has been a part of spring training since 1963, was extremely upbeat. Everyone reported on time and except for some minor bursitis in setup man Bobby Seay's shoulder, there were no injuries.

New left fielder-designated hitter Johnny Damon was among the first to arrive, just a day after signing a one-year, $8 million deal to play for the Tigers.

Leyland met early in the morning to meet with his other left fielder-DH, Carlos Guillen, to sort out his role with the team. Leyland promised Guillen the starting left field job after the end of the 2009 season, never imagining the Tigers would sign Damon.

-- The Associated Press

JAYS WEIGH CLOSERS (6:36 p.m. ET)
While Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston ponders this spring who among a dozen candidates will be in his starting rotation, he also has to look at the other end of the game.

Who among three or more pitchers will be Toronto's closer -- or closers?

Right-hander Jason Frasor and lefty Scott Downs pretty much shared the role last season after the oft-injured and ineffective B.J. Ryan was released. Of the Blue Jays' 25 saves, Frasor had 11 and Downs nine. Added to the mix this year is more experienced closer Kevin Gregg, signed to a one-year, $2.75 million contract.

"Whatever role we all end up in, you're making that bullpen pretty deep," Gregg said. "Looking at the starters, and seeing these guys are pretty young, with what they've done and what they've accomplished, it allows us to shorten the game."

"We're not going to have to push those guys and try to get them into the seventh and eighth inning. When you've got three guys that can close the door at the back end, it really helps out the starters and their situation, too. It lets everybody grow."

Gregg was a middle reliever for the Angels from 2003-06. With Florida in 2007-08 and the Chicago Cubs last year, the right-hander compiled a 3.86 ERA and 84 saves, but had 20 blown saves as well.

He had left knee surgery after the 2008 season and in his final 26 appearances for the Cubs last year, Gregg's ERA ballooned to 7.83. Batters hit .258 against him, he saved four games and blew four, and he lost the closer role to Carlos Marmol.

-- The Associated Press

ICHIRO ALL SMILES IN CAMP (5:19 p.m. ET)
Ichiro Suzuki can talk about separating the way last season ended from the start of a new year, but all indications are that the good vibes will linger with the nine-time All-Star.

The Seattle Mariners won their final game of 2009, finishing with 85 wins, and had the fans at Safeco Field wishing the season could go on. Teammates carried Suzuki, the team's biggest star, off the field on their shoulders.

Fast-forward to Monday and Tuesday, with Suzuki returning the love through a lot of hugs and handshakes and joking with his teammates in a jovial clubhouse and on the field.

Suzuki was particularly glad to see Ken Griffey Jr. Junior held Suzuki back from starting his shuttle run during Tuesday's workout on purpose, drawing laughter from onlookers. Later, as Suzuki ran, Griffey jogged alongside, egging him on.

"I think he came back this year to do that to me," Suzuki said through an interpreter. "He said he needed to do more against me than last year, so I guess this is a good start for him.

"I wasn't missing it at all, but I was prepared for it," Suzuki added.

Let the fun begin again in what was last year a good-time environment among the Mariners.

"I feel very comfortable this year because when you talk about the coaches we've been having, new coaches almost every year, that's what it seems like. But this year, we have one new coach but besides that everyone's all here. Besides that, it's hard to hug someone you don't know," he said.

-- The Associated Press

PIRATES NOT SELLING (5:20 p.m. ET)
After two years of roster upheaval and trading away veteran players, the Pittsburgh Pirates plan to reverse course this season.

That was the message delivered Tuesday by principal owner Bob Nutting and president Frank Coonelly, who addressed a team meeting before the first full-squad workout of spring training.

"The last couple of years there's been the concern of who's going to be with the team in September," Nutting said. "That's much less of a discussion now. This team needs to jell, to set its own standards and perform."

"The expectation level has been raised," Coonelly added. "We believe this team can be the one that turns this franchise around. And instead of being concerned about subtractions from the team, this is a core to which we can add."

Since Coonelly was hired in 2007, the Pirates have jettisoned experienced players such as Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Adam LaRoche and Matt Capps. The Pirates will begin the 2010 season with a payroll of about $35 million, likely to be the lowest in the majors.

Last season, after Sanchez and Wilson were dealt, the Pirates went 19-41 to close out their 17th straight losing season. Management hopes roster stability will lead to better results this year.

-- The Associated Press

FAMILIAR UNIFORM, NEW POSITION FOR TEJADA (4:24 p.m. ET)
Miguel Tejada manned a new position and moved to the next phase of his career at the Baltimore Orioles' first full-squad workout.

Tejada is moving over from shortstop to third base after rejoining the Orioles, who signed him to a one-year deal last month. He took ground balls Tuesday from infield coach Juan Samuel and launched monstrous home runs during batting practice

"It's the first day with the team, but I'm feeling comfortable," said Tejada, who spent four seasons with the Orioles before being traded to the Houston Astros in December 2007. "Since I signed I've been working out at third base, and today was real exciting. I'm like a little kid with a new toy. I'm enjoying today."

Tejada's name surfaced in the Mitchell report the day after he was traded from Baltimore to Houston in 2007. He later admitted to an age discrepancy and received a year's probation for lying to congressional investigators about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

"Everybody knows that I've been through a lot of stuff off the field, but it's all behind me now and I feel like I'm going to start a new career," he said. "The last five years I came to spring training with a lot of stuff on my mind. Now my mind is clear. Now I'm just thinking every day what I can do to help this team."

-- The Associated Press

BAY: BALLPARK, CITY NOT FACTORS IN SIGNING (4:20 p.m. ET)
Jason Bay arrived at the New York Mets' spring training camp Tuesday and talked about everything from his health to his defense to his reaction to Canada's loss to the U.S. in Olympic hockey.

"That stung a little bit," said Bay, a British Columbia native who became a U.S. citizen last summer but was quick to add, "I'm still a Canadian, through and through."

He's also a Met, having signed a four-year, $66 million contract as a free agent in December.

Bay, a three-time All-Star and the 2004 National League Rookie of the Year, said neither the size of the market nor the ballpark was a factor in his decision to sign with the Mets.

"I honestly never gave a ballpark any second thought," said Bay, 31, who batted .267 with 36 home runs and 119 RBIs for the Boston Red Sox last season.

"I'm confident with myself," he added. "At the end of the day, I try to get on base and try to knock in runs. If you knock in 100 runs with 10 home runs, so be it. That's by no means my plan."

-- The Associated Press

CHAVEZ TAKES ON NEW POSITION (4:06 p.m. ET)
Eric Chavez is trying to get comfortable at a new position for the Oakland Athletics.

Chavez got his first workout Tuesday at first base during Oakland's practice in Phoenix.

Chavez won several Gold Gloves at third base for the A's. He's been limited by injuries during the past three seasons, but Oakland wants to try to keep his bat in the lineup this year.

-- The Associated Press

MIJARES' LATE ARRIVAL NOT AN ISSUE (3:32 p.m. ET)

Minnesota Twins reliever Jose Mijares has arrived at spring training a day late.

The left-hander joined the team for the workout on Tuesday. He says he missed his scheduled flight to Florida from his native Venezuela and arrived at the airport five hours early on Monday morning to make sure he made it.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire says he has put aside his disappointment with Mijares. Conditioning has been a problem for the burly Mijares in the past, but the manager praised the 25-year-old's work ethic on Tuesday.

Gardenhire says he expects Mijares to again assume an important role in the bullpen this season. Mijares posted a 2.34 ERA in 71 appearances last year for the Twins.

-- The Associated Press

DiNARDO SIDELINED BY LEG INJURY (3:11 p.m. ET)
Athletics left-hander Lenny DiNardo will miss a couple of days after straining his left Achilles tendon.

A's manager Bob Geren said Tuesday that the 30-year-old felt something while throwing a day earlier and will be held out of drills for the next two days.

DiNardo, who last won a major league game in April 2008 while with the A's, signed a minor league contract in January and was invited to spring training as a non-roster player.

He's spent parts of the past five seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Oakland and the Kansas City Royals.

-- The Associated Press

REDS LOOKING FOR CUETO TO STEP FORWARD (2:56 p.m. ET)
Cincinnati's chances of making an impact in the NL Central would be helped considerably by a breakout season from pitcher Johnny Cueto, whose performance in 2009 was eerily similar to what he did in 2008.

Cueto, 24, posted an 11-11 record with a 4.41 ERA after going 9-14 with a 4.81 ERA as a rookie. But his strikeout total declined markedly and he continued to have problems with the long ball; Cueto has given up 53 home runs in 61 big league starts.

"The more experience he gets, the better he's going to be,'' general manager Walt Jocketty said of Cueto. "He needs to use his changeup more, but he's still learning, He's still a baby.''

-- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com

TEIXEIRA SAYS YANKEES WON'T SIT BACK (11:53 a.m. ET)
Mark Teixeira believes the defending World Series champion New York Yankees will not be complacent and are the favorites this season.

The first baseman says that complacency won't be an issue "because we're the Yankees," and that winning a championship "just makes you want it even more."

"Once you taste that victory, you realize it's everything you've ever hoped for," said Teixeira, who reported to camp Tuesday.

As for considering New York to be the 2010 favorite, Teixeira says the Yankees "have to feel that way every single season."

Teixeira is in the second season of a $180 million, eight-year contract. He hit .292 with 39 homers and 122 RBIs last season.

-- The Associated Press

PHILLIES WILL NEED TO FIGURE OUT WERTH (11:42 a.m. ET)
Sporting a thick, scraggly beard and long hair flowing beneath his baseball cap, Jayson Werth caused a stir with his appearance Monday at camp.

His look -- described by teammate Brad Lidge as "a cross between Jesus Christ and the Geico Caveman" -- might be drawing double takes, but it's his future with the Phillies that will need another look.

Werth is entering the final year of a $10 million, two-year deal, and it's uncertain whether the Phillies will be able to afford him when he becomes a free agent this offseason. Werth, who will be 31 in May, might be considered a late bloomer, after missing all of 2006 as he recovered from a serious wrist injury. But last season, he batted .268 with 36 homers, 99 RBIs and 20 steals, earning a trip to the All-Star Game in his first full season as a regular.

Does that mean Werth would be willing to give the Phillies a hometown discount to stay? His price tag on the open market could be comparable to the $66 million, four-year deal Jason Bay signed with the New York Mets.

"It's tough to say right now," Werth said. "I'm very grateful for what they've done for me ... I don't want to be sitting here blowing smoke. I love the Phillies, I love Philadelphia, I love playing there, I love my teammates. I'm just focused on the task at hand."

-- The Associated Press

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BERNIE FEELING THAT PULL (5:21p.m. ET)
Bernie Williams admits his baseball passion is growing after spending the past week with the New York Yankees.

The 40-year-old former Yankees center fielder worked out for the last time with his old team Friday, and now will join Puerto Rico's squad for next month's World Baseball Classic.

"It's kind of like the logical step. You can't come here and not feel the fire of the competition. It's just bound to happen. If I come here and I don't feel that, then I definitely know I'm in the wrong place," he said.

The former All-Star, who hasn't played since spring 2007, hasn't ruled out playing again in the majors, but it will depend on his WBC performance.

"There's nothing like coming here and just getting this feeling of nice weather, playing baseball and working out with the guys," Williams said. "Spring training has always been one of my most favorite times of the year. There was a part of me that missed it, definitely."

-- Associated Press

HAWPE LEAVES ROCKIES GAME WITH FINGER INJURY (4:24 p.m. ET)
Colorado right fielder Brad Hawpe left Friday's game against the Angels with a lacerated little finger on his left hand. The injury is not serious, and Hawpe is listed as day to day.

Hawpe, 29, is the Rockies' most accomplished outfielder now that the team traded Matt Holliday to Oakland in the offseason. Hawpe's averaged 25 homers over the past three seasons, but has a .739 career OPS against left-handed pitchers compared to .897 vs. righties.

Ryan Spilborghs is the early frontrunner to be the everday center field for Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, but young Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler will get long looks in camp. Seth Smith, the frontrunner for the starting job in left field, will be pushed by Gonzalez and prospect Ian Stewart, a third baseman by trade. Scott Podsednik is also a candidate for an outfield bench job in Colorado.
-- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com

REDS FINISH DEALS FOR CUETO, RAMIREZ (4:21 p.m. ET)
Pitchers Johnny Cueto and Ramon Ramirez agreed to one-year deals with the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.

The Reds did not release any other contract details. Both right-handers made their major league debuts last season.

The 23-year-old Cueto went 9-14 with a 4.81 ERA in 31 starts. The 26-year-old Ramirez spent most of 2008 in the minor leagues, and went 1-1 with a 2.67 ERA in four starts and one relief appearance for the Reds.
-- Associated Press