Category archive: Los Angeles Dodgers

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

RANGERS CATCHER STRAINS BACK MUSCLE (9:00 p.m. ET)

Texas catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was scratched from the lineup because of a strained muscle in his upper left back.

He was injured warming up the pitcher. X-rays were negative.

Last season, Saltalamacchia had surgery on the right side for thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition where a rib bone pushes on a nerve and causes numbness in the arm and hand.

-- Associated Press

KEARNS MAKES CASE FOR STARTING SPOT (8:09 p.m. ET)

Austin Kearns hit his first two home runs of the spring and drove in five runs as the Cleveland Indians rolled to a 12-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.

Kearns, who has a chance at the Indians' starting left field job, went deep against Dodgers starter Eric Stults and again against reliever Aaron Miller. In 25 at-bats before Sunday, he had just two extra-base hits and had not driven in a run.

"He's a right-handed bat with a track record and some power," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He can play the three outfields. His best position is right field but he can play center and occasionally left and he's taking ground balls at first base."

Indians starter Jake Westbrook pitched well, giving up one run on six hits in 4 2/3 innings. He did not walk a batter and had three strikeouts. Westbrook has not pitched in a big-league game since May 2008 because of elbow problems.

-- Associated Press

THOME CONTINUES TO IMPRESS (8:02 p.m. ET)

Jim Thome has impressed the Minnesota Twins so far this spring.

Thome went 2 for 4 with a double and three RBIs, leading the Twins past the Tampa Bay Rays 12-3 on Sunday.

The Twins sent out their Opening Day lineup, with Thome spelling Jason Kubel as the designated hitter with Kubel playing in an intrasquad game, and tagged Rays starter Wade Davis for five runs in the first inning.

Davis, trying to earn a spot in Tampa Bay's starting rotation, gave up seven runs -- five earned -- in two innings. He walked one and struck out one.

"I had one goal, and that was to try to pitch all my innings," Davis said. "That didn't happen. I think I can do a lot better against them. I know I can do a lot better."

Scott Baker, already named the Twins' Opening Day starter, struck out three, walked one and gave up one hit in five innings.

Joe Mauer went 2 for 4 with a run scored, boosting his spring training batting average to .471 before the team announced his agreement on an $184 million, eight-year contract extension.

-- Associated Press

GREINKE THROWS MORE BALLS THAN STRIKES (6:49 p.m. ET)

AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke gave up two runs in five innings of a minor league game Sunday.

Pitching for Triple-A Omaha, Kansas City's Greinke allowed six hits, including a home run, walked three and struck out two. He threw more balls, 39, than strikes, 38.

"I was trying to throw a strike every pitch, so that was really bad," Greinke said. "Even the strikes weren't where I wanted them. The last pitch of the game was probably the only one where I actually hit my spot the whole time. I don't why I was so bad. I haven't been that bad in a long time."

The Royals opted to have Greinke to get his work in against Triple-A Portland, a San Diego affiliate, on a back field rather than face the Colorado Rockies at Surprise Stadium, but he said pitching on a back field with few watching did not affect him.

"I just pitched bad," he said. "I didn't really feel like I wasn't up for it. It was just bad pitching. I couldn't throw the ball where I wanted, so I couldn't work on anything."

-- Associated Press

YANKS SCRAMBLE TO GET PITCHERS ON MOUND (4:16 p.m. ET)

Yankees manager Joe Girardi faced a pitching problem: too many pitchers and not enough innings.

Girardi and other team officials spent two hours after Sunday's game against the Detroit Tigers was canceled by rain organizing plans for eight different pitchers.

The Yankees set up an intrasquad game Monday, which will have fifth starter candidate Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte face each other. Closer Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte, Chan Ho Park and David Robertson will also pitch.

A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, who is also competing for the final rotation spot, will pitch in a road game against Philadelphia.

-- Associated Press

BRAVES' JURRJENS STILL ON TRACK (4:02 p.m. ET)

Jair Jurrjens hasn't had much luck with the weather this spring, but the Atlanta Braves right-hander is still on track to make his first regular-season start April 8 against the Chicago Cubs.

Jurrjens fell victim to the rain again Sunday, which washed out Atlanta's scheduled game against the St. Louis Cardinals. He'll get his work in during a minor league game Monday as he continues in catch-up mode after reporting to spring training with a sore shoulder.

A 14-game winner in 2009, Jurrjens was held out of the canceled game because of the weather, as was scheduled Cardinals starter Brad Penny. The teams ended up making it into the second inning despite the rain before play was stopped.

"I wanted to pitch today, but it's not a problem," Jurrjens said. "My shoulder feels good now, so I'm OK. I'll get my work in."

-- Associated Press

METS' FIGUEROA NOT PREPARING FOR BUFFALO (3:40 p.m. ET)

Nelson Figueroa appreciates the chance the New York Mets have given him to pitch in the majors, but he admits he is leaving every possibility open to pitch somewhere else -- just maybe not Buffalo.

"I feel like I've continued to have success," the right-hander said after earning the win by throwing three innings and striking out five in the Mets' 8-1 victory over the University of Michigan on Sunday at Tradition Field.

"Until I hear otherwise, I'm going to prepare as if I'm breaking camp [with the Mets]."

If not, he said, he will explore other options, including any that don't include another stint with the Mets' Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo.

He said that while he tries to keep the thought in the back of his mind, he can't help but think of camp coming to an end and what his reaction would be if he were designated for assignment to Buffalo.

"There's no way it's not on my mind," he said. "It's a situation that isn't ideal. I think I have a good rapport with the club and I like the staff [at Buffalo].

"Still, I don't looking forward to pitching in 30 degree weather for the first month and a half."

-- Associated Press

MCCUTCHEN CLOSING GAP ON RACE TO START (3:07 p.m. ET)

Pittsburgh right-hander Daniel McCutchen's start was pushed back a day after the Pirates' game against the Tampa Bay Rays was rained out on Sunday.

He'll pitch Monday in Clearwater against the Phillies' Triple-A club -- an assignment that indicates he's closed the gap on Kevin Hart in the race to be Pittsburgh's fifth starter.

Closer Octavio Dotel, out all spring due to a strained oblique, will make his first appearance Monday against another Phillies' minor-league team.

Rays right-hander Andy Sonnanstine also was pushed back. He will pitch Monday, either against the Boston Red Sox or in a minor league game.

-- Associated Press

HOLLIDAY SAYS HE'LL BE BACK MONDAY (1:10 p.m. ET)
Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday says he expects to return to the team's starting lineup on Monday for a spring training game against the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.

Holliday, who is recovering from a muscle strain on his right side, has only five official at-bats this spring, with two doubles and four walks. But he said the remaining two weeks of spring training are enough time for him to get ready for Opening Day, according to the report.

"I'll be able to get another 20 or 30 [at-bats] and I should be fine," he said, according to the report.

-- ESPN.com news services

MARLINS' JIMENEZ RETURNED TO RED SOX (11:55 a.m. ET)
Third baseman Jorge Jimenez, a Rule 5 draft pick, has been offered back to the Red Sox, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

Players chosen in the Rule 5 draft must be returned to their club of origin if they are not on the major league roster.

"You have to carry him on the big club. We felt that wasn't going to be the case," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said Sunday before a spring training game against the Nationals, according to the report.

Jimenez was hoping to either beat out Jorge Cantu at third or win a roster spot as a left-handed pinch hitter.

-- ESPN.com news services

REPORT: A'S RELIEVER MELOAN HAS TORN LIGAMENT (11:45 a.m. ET)
Athletics right-handed reliever John Meloan says he has a torn elbow ligament and expects he will have season-ending surgery, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Meloan, who had an MRI exam on Friday, says he plans to go to Dr. James Andrews. He hopes to be ready for next spring, according to the report.

Reliever Joey Devine and closer Andrew Bailey, the reigning AL rookie of the year, have also experienced elbow problems during spring training.

-- ESPN.com news services

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

MIXED BAG FOR BRAVES' ARMS (9:01 p.m. ET)

Derek Lowe got off to a solid start after a rough first season in Atlanta, pitching two hitless innings in the Braves' 11-8 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday.

The Braves new closer, Billy Wagner, did not fare so well. He gave up three hits and two runs in the third inning.
-- Associated Press

TIGERS PICK UP SLACK FOR ZUMAYA (7:44p.m. ET)

Making his spring debut, Joel Zumaya allowed three earned runs in two innings of the Detroit Tigers' 17-7 win over the Houston Astros on Friday.

"He's unusual," manager Jim Leyland said of Zumaya. "He gets hit when he pitches down in the zone. He's better pitching it high because, with his speed, the batters know they need to stick the bat down low to hit him. They can't when he's high."

Zumaya, who throws near 100 mph, has struggled with shoulder injuries since pitching 62 games in 2006. Since then, he's pitched little more than he did in all of 2006, but he's still expected to be a key setup man in the bullpen for new closer Jose Valverde.

Zumaya and Valverde are expected to fill the void left when Fernando Rodney left for the Angels via free agency. Leyland said he can put up with Zumaya's well-documented theatrics as long as he gets the ball over the plate.

"He's like a bull on a chain," Leyland said. "As far as his personality, he's an excited guy and I don't want him to change a thing. If he can keep his pitches under control, we're all fine with it."
-- ESPN.com news services

D-BACKS' UPTON DELIVERS BIG HIT AFTER BIG DEAL (7:41p.m. ET)

Justin Upton began earning his massive new contract in a big way Friday.

Upton hit a sixth-inning grand slam as the Arizona Diamondbacks lost 8-7 to the Chicago Cubs on Friday.

The outfielder signed a six-year, $52 million deal with Arizona on Thursday.
-- ESPN.com news services

CARDS' PENNY TINKERS IN ROUGH DEBUT (7:33 p.m. ET)

Brad Penny's debut in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform was rocky, yet he was pleased with his first outing of the spring.

Penny pitched two innings, allowing three runs and six hits in the Cardinals' 7-3 loss to a New York Mets' split squad Friday. Three of those hits were soft flyballs that landed just beyond the infield.

"I worked on some stuff today," Penny said. "I probably threw more sinkers in the first inning than I have in a game in probably my career. I'm just trying to work on a sinker and get command of it."

Penny, who signed a one-year, $7.5 million contract to join his favorite childhood team, threw 46 pitches, 29 in the first inning.

"I thought he threw the ball well and had a good day's work," La Russa said.

Penny threw for a short time in the bullpen after his outing to correct a mechanical flaw.
-- Associated Press

M'S SS WILSON HURTS RIGHT HAMMY (7:15 p.m. ET)
Seattle shortstop Jack Wilson injured his right hamstring Friday and left the game after the third inning of the Mariners' 9-3 loss to San Diego.

It was initially believed that Wilson injured the leg while scoring from first base on a triple by Ichiro Suzuki in the third inning. However, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said, "he did not do it on the run. He actually did it (earlier) on a play at short where he planted and threw it.

"He said he felt OK on the run but it was tight."

Wilson was expected to be re-evaluated Saturday. -- Associated Press

ROCKIES' FRANCIS PITCHES FOR FIRST TIME SINCE '08 (6:00 p.m. ET)

After missing 18 months because of shoulder problems that required surgery, Jeff Francis was back on the mound again. He gave up four runs, four hits and two walks in two innings of the Colorado Rockies' 7-4, split-squad loss to the San Francisco Giants on Friday.

"It felt good to get out there and get the blood pumping against a familiar lineup. Physically, I felt good," said Francis, who last pitched on Sept. 12, 2008, and finished with a dismal 4-10 record after going 17-9 in 2007.

The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Francis tried to throw with an easy motion, mainly fastballs.

"I did throw a few changeups, but mostly I would throw five or six [fastballs] in a row, even behind in the count. That's pretty unusual," Francis said.

Francis said he was uncertain when he might throw again, but if he is trying to stick to pitching every fifth day, his next start would come on Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals in Tucson.
-- ESPN.com news services

ROYALS' GREINKE IN CY YOUNG FORM (5:35 p.m. ET)

Zack Greinke is off to a stellar start.

The Cy Young Award winner pitched three scoreless innings Friday and the Kansas City Royals beat the Texas Rangers 4-2.

Greinke, who had a 9.21 ERA in eight spring training games last year, threw just 27 pitches, 19 for strikes. He struck out three and walked none. David Murphys two-out single in the first was the only hit Greinke allowed.
-- Associated Press

INDIANS VETERAN GRILLI, ROOKIE BROWN INJURED (2:59 p.m. ET)

Veteran pitcher Jason Grilli and promising rookie Jordan Brown were injured at the Cleveland Indians' camp in Goodyear, Ariz.

They were taken for MRI examinations and the Indians expect to issue an update Saturday.

Grilli, a right-hander in camp as a non-roster free agent, had his right leg immobilized as he rode a cart to the trainer's room after getting hurt during agility drills on Friday.

Brown, a 26-year-old first baseman/outfielder who won the Triple-A International League batting title with a .336 average last season, got into a cart on his own after being injured while shagging fly balls.
-- Associated Press

MARLINS' BAKER SIDELINED WITH TENDER ARM (11:59 a.m. ET)

Florida Marlins catcher John Baker has been scratched from their game against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., because of tenderness in his throwing arm.

The ailment is not considered serious, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said Baker probably will be kept out of action Saturday as a precaution.

Minor league catcher Brett Hayes replaced Baker in the starting lineup Friday against the Mets. Ronny Paulino will start Saturday against the Cardinals in Jupiter.
-- Associated Press

DODGERS MUST SORT OUT ROSTER GLUT (10:42 a.m. ET)

The Los Angeles Dodgers suddenly have a logjam of outfielders that could end up affecting the pitching staff come Opening Day.

With the signing of veteran Garret Anderson late Wednesday, the Dodgers could be in position to have five outfielders on their 25-man roster once spring training ends. That scenario might require the Dodgers to carry 11 pitchers into the season opener, instead of the 12 manager Joe Torre had originally projected.

"You think you're going to take 12 pitchers. Is 11 an option? I guess it is," Torre said Thursday, a day after Anderson was given a minor-league deal with an invitation to major-league camp.

"We have an awful lot of decisions to make but we can't really start making them until we get deep into the games. I don't bother thinking about it right now. I've written it down. I'm just happy I don't have to do that today or tomorrow."
-- Associated Press

JOHNSON REMAINS OUT OF YANKEES' LINEUP (9:46 a.m. ET)

New York Yankees designated hitter Nick Johnson will miss his second straight game because of a stiff lower back.

Johnson was hurt during batting practice Thursday when his spikes got caught on the mats used in the cage. He said his back "loosened up" after an exercise program before Friday's game against Tampa Bay. He doesn't think the injury is serious.

Johnson was signed during the offseason to take the spot of 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, now with the Los Angeles Angels.

Catcher Jorge Posada was in Friday's lineup as the DH.
-- Associated Press

AYBAR GETS FIRST CRACK AS ANGELS' LEADOFF MAN (9:44 a.m. ET)

It appears Erick Aybar will get the first shot at winning the Los Angeles Angels' leadoff spot. Aybar led off against the White Sox in Thursday's Cactus League opener.

Maicer Izturis, who is also in consideration for the job, batted fifth. Aybar was 0 for 2 with a walk and scored the first run on Juan Rivera's third-inning single. Izturis was hitless in three trips to the plate.
-- Associated Press

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

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February, 20, 2010
02/20/10
9:04
AM ET
ASTROS WORK OUT FOR FIRST TIME UNDER MILLS (9:18 p.m. ET)
First-time Astros skipper Brad Mills ran his first workout Saturday, when Houston's pitchers and catchers reported to the club's spring training complex near Orlando.

The 53-year-old Mills is a major league manager for the first time after spending the last six seasons as Terry Francona's bench coach in Boston. Mills inherits a team with veteran talent in Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee, but also wants to incorporate young players into prominent roles this season.

Mills was hired in October to replace Cecil Cooper, who was fired with 13 games left in the season.

-- The Associated Press

GAGNE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT CHANCE WITH DODGERS (7:18 p.m. ET)
Eric Gagne is pretty sure this is his last shot at a major league comeback, and he's glad to be getting it with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner, who rejoined the Dodgers when he agreed to a minor league contract Friday, thinks making the team this spring shouldn't be a problem as long as he's healthy.

On his first day back inside the Dodgers' clubhouse, Gagne pulled on a fresh, blue cap Saturday and tugged at the bill. He said it was perfect.

He could have been referring to more than just the fit. Gagne has pitched for three big league teams since leaving the Dodgers after the 2006 season. But it was in Los Angeles where he became a star closer, and he says the Dodgers never left his heart.

-- The Associated Press

ROCKIES' COOK FINDS STRENGTH THROUGH WEIGHT LOSS (7:04 p.m. ET)
Colorado Rockies right-hander Aaron Cook cut out fried foods and sodas. He stopped eating desserts and avoided late night snacks.

The result was startling.

Cook reported to spring training at 200 pounds, down from 220 at the end of the 2009 season. He expects to gain between five and 10 pounds during camp but should enter the upcoming season carrying less weight.

Colorado catcher Chris Iannetta and pitching coach Bob Apodaca noticed a difference right away when Cook threw his first bullpen session of the spring Saturday. Iannetta says he had a lot more extension on his pitches and Apodaca says Cook looked "really healthy and athletic."

Cook went 11-6 with a 4.16 ERA in 158 innings last year.

-- The Associated Press

SLIMMER STAIRS AIMS FOR SPOT ON PADRES' BENCH (6:27 p.m. ET)
Matt Stairs says he pushed himself hard during his offseason conditioning program just in case any teams had interest in his services.

At the same time, however, the veteran pinch-hitter put the thought in the back of his mind that he might have to retire.

But sometime after he secured a job as a hitting coach for the University of Maine, Stairs received an invitation to spring training from the San Diego Padres. Stairs, who signed a minor league deal in January after losing 32 pounds this offseason, officially checked into spring training on Saturday.

Stairs, who began his career with the Montreal Expos in 1992 and is playing for his 12th team, weighs 198 pounds. He finished the 2009 season with the NL champion Phillies weighing 230 pounds. Stairs attributed the weight loss to a diet and playing for two senior league hockey teams in Bangor, Maine. He also was a coach for the varsity hockey team at John Baptist Memorial High School in Bangor this winter.

"I feel great right now," Stairs said. "We'll see how it goes. If I can't hit any home runs, I'll start throwing some burgers in me."

-- The Associated Press

RED SOX CATCHER VARITEK IN ODD POSITION: BACKUP (4:14 p.m. ET)
For the first time in 12 years, Jason Varitek is starting spring training as a backup.

The Boston Red Sox catcher is the No. 2 man behind Victor Martinez.

"This isn't necessarily new for me," Varitek said after the first official workout for pitchers and catchers. "Is it different? Of course, it's different. But I think that in that role that it was last year toward the end that probably got me prepared for this.

"For the most part, I'm here to support Vic as much as possible and take the load off him when he needs it."

Varitek is starting his sixth season as the Red Sox captain and said he might be a better leader when he doesn't play and can devote more attention to communicating with teammates instead of the details of the game.

-- The Associated Press

ANGELS' SHIELDS SAYS REHAB ON TRACK (3:50 p.m. ET)
Angels' reliever Scot Shields says that his recovery from season-ending knee surgery last June is on track and that Los Angeles' bullpen has never been better.

The Angels longest-tenured player said on Saturday that the Angels' relief corps is among the best since he joined the team in 2001.

Shields has been a bullpen mainstay as the right-handed setup man, spanning the tenures of closers Troy Percival, Frankie Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes.

But he made a career-low 20 appearances last season before opting for left knee surgery in mid-June. He admitted to pitching in pain while compiling a career-worst 6.62 ERA over 17 2/3 innings.

The Angels are bringing Shields along slowly this spring, and he says that was the plan all along.

-- The Associated Press

MARLINS LOOKING AT PLAYOFF BERTH (3:48 p.m. ET)
As the first spring training workout begins, the Florida Marlins are already swinging for the fences by talking optimistically about making the playoffs.

Pitchers and catchers took the field for drills Saturday with high expectations, from team president David Samson on down.

The Marlins have climbed from 71 wins in 2007 to 84 in 2008 and 87 last year, when they finished six games behind league champion Philadelphia in the NL East. The core of the team returns intact, and payroll will top $40 million for the first time in five years.

More improvement likely will be needed to crack the postseason for the first time since the Marlins won the World Series in 2003.

-- The Associated Press

DEMPSTER DRAWS INSPIRATION FROM AILING DAUGHTER (3:43 p.m. ET)
Ryan Dempster has inspiration every time he gets in a tight situation on a baseball field with the Chicago Cubs. It comes from his 10-month-old daughter, Riley, who's been fighting DiGeorge syndrome all her young life.

Riley Dempster, who was born on April 1, 2009, has undergone numerous procedures, including the insertion of feeding and tracheal tubes as she fights the disorder caused by a defect in a chromosome.

Symptoms and conditions of DiGeorge syndrome vary in different patients and with different degrees of severity. In Riley's case, she's been unable to swallow. Early on, she underwent another procedure in which a portion of the stomach is wrapped around the esophagus to promote healing and reduce acid backup.

"She's doing well. She's still unable to swallow but she's doing well. She's a tough little fighter," Dempster said this week from the Chicago Cubs' spring training complex.

Dempster said his daughter must learn how to swallow on her own and it's a difficult process for someone so small and young.

"She inspires us," Dempster said. "You know, watching. If you're going through that, I can do anything. I really feel that way."

-- The Associated Press

CARDS GROOMING BACKUP OPTIONS FOR CLOSER FRANKLIN (3:23 p.m. ET)
Ryan Franklin was one of the National League's top closers last year, even with an awful final month, a first-time All-Star for St. Louis whose ERA hovered around one until early September.

The Cardinals have faith that a pitcher who'll be 37 next month and isn't a strikeout machine can do the job again, but not enough that they're not trying to develop a backup this spring.

"It doesn't matter to me," Franklin said Saturday. "I've got a couple of years, maybe three years left, and I want to win. Whatever that takes, whatever they think, is totally fine with me as long as I'm a part of it."

Among the potential fill-ins are Jason Motte, who began last year as the closer, and Mitchell Boggs. Both throw in the high 90s, more of a typical closer template than Franklin, who is a ground-ball pitcher.

"You always want a succession plan, and if something doesn't work you want to look for something internally first," general manager John Mozeliak said. "It's just natural."

-- The Associated Press

WAKAMATSU GIDDY ABOUT MARINERS' ROTATION (3:18 p.m. ET)
A starting rotation with Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee at the top is giving the Seattle Mariners plenty of optimism for 2010.

Lee, who still has strips of athletic tape covering the area of the surgery, is scheduled to take part in pitchers' fielding practice Monday and is expected to toss a bullpen session on Wednesday. Heavy rain at the Mariners' spring training complex prevented Lee from taking part in fielding practice on Saturday.

"It would be good to get him back on the mound. That's our first step," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "Get him feeling comfortable with the club."

Yet little can douse the Mariners' excitement about having Lee, who came to Seattle in a December trade with the Phillies in exchange for three prospects.

"I joke. I said back in our winter meetings in October, I said 'Cliff Lee is the guy I'm targeting," Wakamatsu said. "That whole process was pretty amazing. At winter meetings his name got brought up and everybody got giddy in the room, and the second part is, 'Can we really do this?' and [general manager] Jack [Zduriencik] made it happen, which was pretty special."

-- The Associated Press

REDS' VOLQUEZ HAPPY IN CAMP DESPITE INACTION (3:08 p.m. ET)
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez was home in the Dominican Republic when he went to a baseball game just to see teammate Francisco Cordero throw in the winter league.

Volquez couldn't throw after season-ending Tommy John surgery, but he said he missed his teammates more than pitching. So he caught up with Cordero after the game and the veteran told Volquez to keep his head up, that spring training was just around the corner.

While he still doesn't take part in all the same activities as his teammates, and rehab is expected to take a full year, Volquez said Saturday he's happy to be around his teammates at spring training in Arizona.

"I'm still here on the team, I feel like I'm part of the team," he said. "I'm with my teammates. You get time with guys in here, you say hello to everyone, they make you happy."

-- The Associated Press

COX CONFIDENT IN SAITO, WAGNER (3:04 p.m. ET)
After watching Takashi Saito's first throwing session of spring training, Braves manager Bobby Cox had one word to sum it all up:

"Wow."

The former Dodgers closer turned 40 last week. But the Braves expect him to serve as Billy Wagner's primary set-up man. That's health permitting, of course. But Cox said he has no health worries whatsoever about Saito, whose Dodgers career was cut short by a sprained elbow in 2008, or Wagner, who missed most of last season following Tommy John surgery.

"Saito was never in the trainer's room once last year in Boston," Cox said. "And Wags has a new arm. So right now, I don't have any thoughts about those guys breaking down."

-- Jayson Stark, ESPN.com

COX ON JURRJENS, PROCTOR (3:02 p.m. ET)
On the first day that pitchers and catchers worked out, the only Braves dealing with any sort of health issue were starter Jair Jurrjens, who has a sore shoulder, and former Yankees reliever Scott Proctor, who had Tommy John surgery 11 months ago.

An MRI this week on Jurrjens' shoulder showed nothing alarming. But the Braves want Jurrjens to take it slowly at first.

"According to the MRI, he's great," Cox said. "But let's see."

Cox said Proctor is "about two weeks" behind the other pitchers. But the 33-year-old right-hander threw 50 pitches off the mound in the bullpen Saturday and "looked really good," Cox said. "He's still on a rehab schedule, but you'd never know it."

Proctor is viewed as a long shot to make the club out of spring training. But Cox won't rule it out.

"He's going to have plenty of time," the manager said. "I think he'll be ready coming out of camp. But if not, it will be real close."

-- Jayson Stark, ESPN.com

PIRATES WANT TO LESSEN DUKE'S WORKLOAD (2:58 p.m. ET)
The Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to cut down on All-Star pitcher Zach Duke's workload this season.

Duke has made at least 30 starts in three of his first four full seasons in the majors. The exception was 2007, when shoulder problems limited him to 19 starts.

Duke didn't miss a start last season but faded over the final two months. On Saturday, pitching coach Joe Kerrigan said the amount of work Duke put in between starts might have been the culprit.

"We'll have to take a look at that," Kerrigan said. "Maybe that has something to do with the wear and tear in August and September."

Last season, Duke was injury-free and pitched 213 innings, tops on the team and 12th in the National League. The left-hander also was tied for third in the NL with three complete games, the most by a Pirates pitcher since Jeff Suppan had three in 2003.

-- The Associated Press

WILPON OPTIMISTIC FOR METS' 2010 SEASON (2:00 p.m. ET)
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Coming off a season he said was "torture" for him, New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon is optimistic about the 2010 season.

"[It is difficult] when you have all those injuries and a bad season, and the fans were disappointed -- but not anymore than I was because I am probably their biggest fan," Wilpon said. "Now that's last year. It's 2010, it's 70 degrees in Florida and the sun is shining, so I have a great feeling of optimism."

After an injury-filled, 92-loss season, Mets fans have higher demands this year. Wilpon has them in mind, especially as the organization tries to fill the stands at Citi Field.

The need to produce likely is putting some pressure on management and coaches, but Wilpon declined to talk about whether any jobs within the organization were on the line, saying, "Those are things of the future."

-- The Associated Press

FELIZ WANTS SPOT IN RANGERS' ROTATION (1:34 p.m. ET)
Right-hander Neftali Feliz was mainly a starter in the minors before being called up to the Texas Rangers' bullpen in August. He struck out four of his first six batters and finished with a 1-0 record, 1.74 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 31 innings.

"When he joined us we saw lightning in a bottle," Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "What did we learn? That it wasn't an accident."

Should the Rangers have Perez start as he has done throughout his minor-league career or are they better off with his power fastball in the bullpen? Feliz, the team's top-rated prospect, is clear on his preference.

"I think I would be a better starter than reliever in the long run," Feliz said through an interpreter. "I'm confident. I feel like I can do better as a starter. I get a lot of questions about it and I tell them that it's up to the team to decide."

Washington said Feliz's future is as a starter. But consistent with the team's mantra this season of making decisions based on what the team needs most to win, a rotation spot isn't guaranteed.

"All the guy's done all his career is start and we want to make sure we use his assets," Washington said. "But he's not going to be given anything. By the middle of spring training we'll determine whether his spot is in the bullpen or in the rotation."

-- The Associated Press

RANGERS' LHP HOLLAND INJURES KNEE (12:56 p.m. ET)
Texas Rangers left-hander Derek Holland injured his right knee during agility drills in a light rain Saturday.

Holland walked off the field under his own power and was examined in the clubhouse by Rangers team doctor Keith Meister. An MRI was scheduled to be performed as soon as a machine becomes available.

The 23-year-old was 8-13 with a 6.02 ERA in 33 appearances and 21 starts as a rookie for the Rangers last season.

-- The Associated Press. For more on this story, go to ESPNDallas.com.

HAREN GETS OPENING DAY NOD FOR ARIZONA (12:49 p.m. ET)
Dan Haren was given the Opening Day start for the Arizona Diamondbacks over Brandon Webb, who is expected to return after shoulder surgery.

"I think it's a great reward for Dan Haren," Arizona manager A.J. Hinch told the Arizona Republic.

Hinch plans on starting new addition Edwin Jackson in the second game, and bringing Webb out for the third game.

The Diamondbacks open the season April 5 against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field.

-- ESPN.com news services

MARINERS PITCHER STILL IN VENEZUELA (11:36 a.m. ET)
Mariners pitcher Yusmeiro Petit is dealing with personal matters in his native Venezuela and is not expected to join the team until next week.

A team spokesman declined to discuss the issues Saturday, although he said they are not related to Petit obtaining a visa to work in the United States.

Petit is the only pitcher not present at Mariners spring training, where pitchers and catchers have arrived ahead of the rest of the team.

The 25-year-old Petit went 3-10 with a 5.82 ERA in 23 games -- including 17 starts -- for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season. He was claimed off waivers by Seattle in November.

-- The Associated Press

PETTITTE ON TIGER'S APOLOGY (9:19 a.m. ET)
Andy Pettitte, who had his own very public apology two years ago after admitting he used HGH, shared his opinions on Tiger Woods' statement.

"I think it will be good," Pettitte told 1050 New York's Andrew Marchand when asked what he thinks the apology will do for Woods' future. "Fans are very forgiving. People are very forgiving. For me, it was amazing. You know you have been following this team, I'm sure, and have been around this team. The fans, everywhere I went, have been unbelievable to me. I thank the Good Lord for that.

"I think my situation was a lot different. I stood and answered every question until you guys didn't have any more questions to ask and I think maybe, in my situation, made things a lot different, but I can't speak on Tiger's behalf or whatever he is going through."

In the end, an apology is only effective if it's sincere. Pettitte said that the public can detect insincerity.

"People know," Pettitte said. "People can tell if someone is sincere or not. I think people know me also. I've been around a long time. I've always been open to people and to being able to talk to people my whole career also. I think people know who I am and what I'm about."

-- ESPN.com

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March, 31, 2009
03/31/09
8:54
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BRAUN HURTS THUMB (1:18 a.m. ET)
Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun is day to day with a right thumb contusion after leaving in the second inning of Tuesday night's game against the Padres.

The 2007 National League rookie of the year was struck by a first-inning line drive off the bat of the Padres' Brian Giles when he lost the ball in the lights. X-rays of Braun's thumb were taken but showed no significant damage.

Braun, who drove in a run in his only at-bat, was making only his sixth Cactus League appearance after playing for the United States in the World Baseball Classic. Last season, he hit .285 with 37 homers and 106 RBIs.

MYERS GETS OPENING DAY NOD (11:48 p.m. ET)
Brett Myers had a strong outing in his final spring appearance and earned the Opening Day start for the Phillies for the third straight year.

Myers held Toronto to one run on three hits in four innings, leading the Phillies to a 9-1 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night. He struck out four while walking none.

After the game, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel announced that the 28-year-old right-hander will start the opener. Cole Hamels, originally scheduled to start the first game, was officially ruled out a day earlier as he battles back from elbow tightness.

"Once Cole couldn't start, the way we keep the rotation, [Myers] follows Cole and then [Jamie] Moyer and [Joe] Blanton," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "That's how we've had it when we won."

Myers' lone mistake came in the second inning when he gave up a two-out, solo homer to Travis Snider on a 3-2 pitch.

"I'm ready to pitch whenever, as long as they give me the chance," Myers said before Manuel announced he would start the opener. "Whenever they give me the green light, I'll be ready."

PUTZ EXITS EARLY (10:54 p.m. ET)
Setup man J.J. Putz left the Mets' 9-2 victory over the Marlins on Tuesday night after irritating the fingernail on his right middle finger.

Putz struck out Alejandro De Aza looking and Andy Gonzalez swinging in the eighth inning. He then walked off the mound and was greeted by manager Jerry Manuel near the first-base line.

"Nothing serious," Manuel said. "We figured it would be best just to get him out of there and get it taken care of."

Putz was a key offseason acquisition for the Mets, who overhauled their bullpen in one day when they obtained Putz from Seattle in a three-team, 12-player trade hours after signing closer Rodriguez.

BERKMAN SITS AGAIN (10:43 p.m. ET)
Astros first baseman Lance Berkman missed his fourth consecutive game with biceps tendinitis in his left shoulder.

Berkman said Monday that he planned to DH on Tuesday, but Houston manager elected not to use a DH against the Braves in order to give Berkman another day of rest.

Berkman is expected to play Wednesday against Cincinnati.

OHMAN MAKES SPRING DEBUT (9:42 p.m. ET)
Los Angeles reliever Will Ohman gave up a homer and showed rust while making his spring debut. The veteran left-hander, signed on Monday to a one-year minor league contract, was playing catch-up after not being in camp.

"Obviously signing so late I wanted to bring as much attention to myself as possible. I thought I would go up there and give up a dinger to the first guy," Ohman said, with a laugh.

Ohman got ahead of Chad Tracy for an 0-2 count before allowing a two-run homer to right field. It was the first batter he faced in the fifth inning. The longtime reliever, who has a career 10-9 record in 303 games, walked Conor Jackson before striking out Miguel Montero to end the frame.

"This is a building block. They are looking for me to refine my stuff and get in a position where I am locked in," Ohman said. "All I am looking for and I think all the club is looking for is a general progression so it gets better each and every time."

Ohman, who was 4-1 with a 3.68 ERA in 83 games with Atlanta last year.

NATS RELEASE PENA (9:09 p.m. ET)
The Nationals gave outfielder Wily Mo Pena his unconditional release Tuesday and reassigned reliever Gary Glover to minor league camp.

The moves left the Nationals with 34 players in their spring camp.

Pena refused an assignment to the minor leagues after being waived Saturday.

He hit .205 with only two homers and 10 RBIs in 195 at-bats in 2008 before having an operation on his left shoulder in July. In October, the Nationals rejected their $5 million option for 2009 on Pena, but he exercised his $2 million option.

The Nationals acquired Pena from Boston in July 2007, one of a long series of deals in which former Washington general manager Jim Bowden acquired players he knew from his days working for the Reds. The Red Sox got first baseman Chris Carter in what was a three-team deal that involved Washington sending Emiliano Fruto to the Diamondbacks.

BONIFACIO TO START AT THIRD (8:34 p.m. ET)
Marlins newcomer Emilio Bonifacio won a starting job at third base, and Jorge Cantu will move to first.

The lineup was solidified Tuesday when the Marlins optioned rookie first baseman Gaby Sanchez to Triple-A New Orleans.

Bonifacio was acquired from the Nationals to add depth. A natural second baseman, he impressed the Marlins with his speed and defense.

"I like him in that lineup some place," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He has made unbelievable improvement at third base, a position he didn't play. He's been learning under the gun a little bit."

Cantu played mostly third last season for Florida, but he started 23 games at first and is better there defensively. Before joining the Marlins last year he was primarily a second baseman.

BURRISS GETS STARTNG NOD (8:17 p.m. ET)
Emmanuel Burriss is San Francisco's starting second baseman.

The Giants optioned Kevin Frandsen to Triple-A Fresno on Tuesday, giving the job to Burriss after a strong competition in spring training.

"[Burriss'] all-around play was very solid," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. "It was a unanimous opinion from all involved -- front office, coaching staff, scouts. He had a tremendous spring."

Burriss, 24, was hitting .357 with four doubles, four stolen bases and nine RBIs entering the Giants' game against Texas in Surprise on Tuesday. Frandsen hit .274 with a homer and six RBIs.

"Every day is a learning day," Burriss said earlier in camp. "I want to say I'm pretty comfortable [at second], but I have to get better. There is always room for improvement."

Frandsen, 26, missed all but one game in 2008 after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in spring training on March 24. He made one pinch-hit appearance, against Los Angeles on Sept. 28.

DUCHSCHERER HAS SURGERY (8:00 p.m. ET)
A's right-hander Justin Duchscherer underwent elbow surgery on Tuesday morning.

It was an arthroscopic cleanup and manager Bob Geren said everything went well.

Geren said the A's still won't know how much time Duchscherer will miss until he starts throwing. He is expected to miss at least six weeks, though.

OPPORTUNITY LOST FOR PONSON? (7:57 p.m. ET)
Sidney Ponson didn't do much to help his bid for a spot in the Royals' rotation.

Ponson gave up seven runs in five innings in the Royals' 7-2 loss to the Athletics on Tuesday, hours after Luke Hochevar was optioned to Triple-A Omaha, eliminating one of the contenders for the final spots in the Kansas City rotation.

"It wasn't good at all," said Ponson, who threw three scoreless innings but also gave up two runs in the first and five in the fourth. "I gave up seven runs today. That's not what I wanted to do. That fourth inning I was behind everybody and everything was over the plate. I didn't throw the way I wanted to throw. I kept giving up hits, and everything went downhill."

The Royals signed the 32-year-old veteran after his performance for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. In two outings this spring, he has allowed 11 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.

"I'm not disappointed," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "I didn't like the results, but I'm not disappointed in what he brings to table. ... We still saw stuff, pitchability."

Ponson is still likely to win one of the final spots in the Royals' rotation. Gil Meche, Zack Greinke and Kyle Davies are the top three starters. Ponson, Horacio Ramirez and Brian Bannister are the candidates for the fourth and fifth spots.

METS MAKE FINAL MOVES (7:32 p.m. ET)
The Mets reassigned right-hander Elmer Dessens and outfielder Bobby Kielty to their minor league camp and waived right-hander Fernando Nieve on Tuesday, leaving 25 players in the major league camp.

Dessens pitched three innings in the spring, giving up four hits and two walks. Kielty batted .296 with one home run and 10 RBIs in 24 games. Nieve posted a 3.00 ERA in six innings, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks.

Outfielders Marlon Anderson and Jeremy Reed earned the final bench spots, and right-handers Darren O'Day and Bobby Parnell secured spots in the bullpen.

Also, the Mets released veteran infielder Jose Valentin, pitcher Tony Armas Jr. and second baseman Junior Spivey from the minor league camp.

BAKER BOUNCED (5:20 p.m. ET)
Reds manager Dusty Baker was ejected by plate umpire D.J. Reyburn following a heated argument in the sixth inning. It was an unusual outburst by Baker, who was ejected only once last season.

The blowup came after someone in the Reds dugout yelled something at Reyburn, who turned and said something back. Baker, who was seated next to the dugout on a folding chair, got into an animated exchange with the umpire and was ejected.

Instead of leaving the field immediately -- Baker would have had to walk along the right-field foul line and leave through a gate -- he told crew chief Charlie Reliford that he was going to watch the rest of the inning from the dugout.

"I said, 'Hey, man, I ain't leaving right now because I ain't walking down there,'" Baker said. "It's a long walk. I wasn't going to hold up the game. I told Charlie I'll leave after the inning."

CHAMBERLAIN STICKS AROUND (5:14 p.m. ET)
Joba Chamberlain pitched into the sixth inning Tuesday, a step forward in his development as a starter, and the Yankees took advantage of four Cincinnati errors in a 6-3 victory over the Reds.

The Yankees wanted Chamberlain to pitch six innings for the first time this spring, and he came close. The right-hander allowed five hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings, leaving after the Reds scored twice.

"Good," Chamberlain said. "It's still got to get better. Velocity and attacking the [strike] zone, I felt good. It was something to build on."

The Yankees' fifth starter hadn't lasted longer than 4 1/3 innings in any of his five previous games this spring, going a total of 14 2/3 innings. It was Chamberlain's final chance to pitch deeper into a game, and he did what the Yankees wanted, striking out six along the way.

"It's what we wanted to see from him," manager Joe Girardi said. "A good step. He was pretty good today. He was anywhere between 90-96 [mph] today."

Meanwhile, Yankees DH Hideki Matsui was limited in drills by a stiff neck. Girardi said Matsui could play on Wednesday. Right fielder Xavier Nady said he was OK after being hit on the left elbow by a pitch in the sixth. He left the game with a bruise.

PARK IS PHILS' FIVE GUY (5:08 p.m. ET)
Philadelphia named Chan Ho Park its fifth starter. The veteran right-hander beat out lefty J.A. Happ for the final spot in the starting rotation.

Park had an outstanding spring after signing a $2.5 million, one-year contract with the Phillies in January. He came into camp competing with incumbent No. 5 starter Kyle Kendrick, rookie prospect Carlos Carrasco and Happ.

Park, a former All-Star, was 4-4 with a 3.40 ERA in 54 appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. He was 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA as a starter and 3-4 with a 3.84 ERA in relief.

REDS DEAL KEPPINGER TO ASTROS (4:50 p.m. ET)
Jeff Keppinger was packing his gear when he got a call saying manager Dusty Baker wanted to talk to him. The reserve shortstop thought he was about to be released.

Instead, the Reds traded him to the Astros on Tuesday for a player to be named, giving him a chance to play for his fifth major league organization. He batted only .140 in 21 games this spring and knew it was likely that he wouldn't make the team.

"I'm just glad they didn't release me," Keppinger said. "I was going to ask if they were going to release me just because of my spring numbers."

Keppinger bailed the Reds out last season, when starting shortstop Alex Gonzalez was sidelined by a fractured knee. Keppinger started 101 games at shortstop, batting .266 with three homers and 43 RBIs.

Gonzalez is back from the injury this season, although a strained hamstring has held him back recently. He played in a minor league game for the second day in a row Tuesday and reported no problems.

DEVINE'S ELBOW SENDS HIM TO DL (4:17 p.m. ET)
Joey Devine will start the season on the disabled list because of a recurring elbow problem, leaving the Athletics without one of their two closers.

Devine, who had to come out of Monday's game because of elbow pain, said Tuesday morning he will see noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews next week. With Devine out, the A's will use right-hander Brad Ziegler as their lone closer.

Devine, 25, has had the same problem in his right elbow throughout the past few years, including a two-month stint on the DL last season. He missed about two weeks this spring. During his second big league exhibition game after his return, he said he felt more pain.

"It's been a roller coaster," he said. "I've have some ups but I've had more downs. I try to tell myself it will be fine, but there is only so much you can do. I've got to get it diagnosed and get it fixed. Whether that's sitting out and rehabbing it or going from there [to have surgery]."

Devine was 6-1 with an 0.59 ERA in 42 innings last season, the lowest ERA in major league history for a pitcher with at least 25 innings.

THANKS FOR THE HIT, BUT YOU'RE OUT (4:10 p.m. ET)
Geoff Jenkins, who had a key hit for Philadelphia in the resumption of Game 5 of last year's World Series, is no longer a Phillie.

The Phillies released Jenkins on Tuesday, giving them 29 players as Saturday's deadline approaches for the team to set its 25-man roster.

Philadelphia owes Jenkins $8 million on his contract: $6.75 million for this season plus a $1.25 million buyout of his 2010 option.

The 31-year-old outfielder hit .246 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs last season for the Phillies. His double in the first at-bat of the resumption of Game 5 of the World Series led to the go-ahead run.

The Tampa Bay Rays later tied the game, but the Phillies went on to win and secure their first World Series title in 28 years.

Jenkins is a career .275 hitter with 221 home runs and 733 RBIs in 12 seasons.

FOGG HAS TO MOVE ON (4:07 p.m. ET)
Josh Fogg, who signed a minor league deal Feb. 2 with the Rockies, wasn't able to make his way back onto the team that he played with in 2006 and 2007. Fogg was reassigned to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Monday.

"I will look for another job. If not, then I will head to the Springs and start there," Fogg said, according to the Denver Post. "Hopefully I can get stretched out, start, and wait for an opportunity."

Outfielder Matt Murton was optioned to Colorado Springs, though manager Clint Hurdle expected he will be called up this season at some point, according to the Post.

ALBALADEJO SNAGS BULLPEN JOB (3:30 p.m. ET)
Jonathan Albaladejo has won the competition for the final spot in the Yankees' bullpen, beating three long-relief candidates, who were sent to the minors on Tuesday.

Alfredo Aceves and Dan Giese were optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Brett Tomko was reassigned to the Triple-A club. Catcher Kevin Cash also was reassigned to New York's top farm team.

Tomko had been considered the front-runner for the spot but the Yankees opted to keep Albaladejo. Albaladejo and Phil Coke can throw multiple innings and fill the long-reliever void.

"I'm extremely disappointed," Tomko said. "I respect their decision. I feel like I pitched my way onto this team. They said they wanted to go with a short-[inning] guy and not a long man. I can do that. That's what the frustration comes from."

MANUEL CONFIRMS LIVAN, LINEUP SPOTS (2:45 p.m. ET)
No big surprise here: Mets manager Jerry Manuel said on Monday that RHP Livan Hernandez will be the team's fifth starter.

Before the Mets-Orioles game Monday night, Manuel said he was favoring left fielder Daniel Murphy as the No. 2 batter in the lineup, with second baseman Luis Castillo eighth.

The Mets also signed LHP Ken Takahashi to a minor league contract. Takahashi, 39, appeared in one game this spring with the Blue Jays, allowing four hits and two runs in 1 2/3 innings.

MIJARES, BUTERA SENT TO ROCHESTER (11:19 a.m. ET)
The Twins optioned Jose Mijares to their Triple-A Rochester team after the left-handed reliever had a rocky spring training.

He gave up 18 hits, walked nine and struck out seven in 10 innings. His ERA stands at 9.90.

Mijares started last season in Double-A, but took over as the main set-up man in late September and posted an 0.87 ERA with only three hits allowed in 10 1/3 innings.

The team also sent catcher Drew Butera to Triple-A. Catcher Jeff Christy and infielder Alejandro Machado were assigned to minor league camp. The Twins now have 30 active players remaining in camp, including 14 pitchers.

MATTHEWS RETURNS TO CAMP (10:10 a.m. ET)
After being informed Sunday that he was the Angels' fifth outfielder, Gary Matthews Jr. took a day to reflect on the development, then returned Monday and went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in a 13-3 victory against the White Sox.

"I want to play every day," Matthews said Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times. "I would like to do that here ... But if it's not going to happen, we need to explore different options."

Matthews declined to say if he had asked the team for a trade. "It's kind of obvious what the subject was," he said of Sunday's meeting with Angels management. But complicating any movement would be the fact he has three years and $33 million left on his deal.

Matthews is coming back from offseason knee surgery, which repaired the patellar tendon. He was not expected to play until May, but he has appeared in 13 games this spring, and was hitting. 294 with two home runs and 11 RBIs.

"Based on how I recovered from surgery and how I've performed this spring, my opinion is that I'm an everyday player," Matthews said, according to the Times. "I discussed this [with manager Mike Scioscia and general manager Tony Reagins]. We agree to disagree at this point."

WISE WINS STARTING JOB (9:54 a.m. ET)
Dewayne Wise officially has been handed Chicago's starting center fielder's job, and the career journeyman will be the leadoff hitter as well.

"[Manager] Ozzie [Guillen] came to me, told me congratulations, whatever," Wise said. "He told me he was going to put me in that leadoff spot, see what happens. He told me he was proud of the way I played this spring, and best of luck to me."

Wise, who has been with the Blue Jays, Braves and Reds, has never played more than 57 games a season in the majors.

"This is a great feeling," Wise said in the Chicago Tribune. "This is something I wanted my whole career. Now at 31 I get the opportunity. I just go out and have fun, do whatever it takes to help the team win."

Wise won the spot over Jerry Owens, whom the White Sox have been grooming the past three seasons. But Owens, who was placed on waivers on Monday, disappointed them with his lackluster efforts this spring. Unless another team picks him up, he will be outrighted to Triple-A Charlotte.

"I was a little disappointed," Guillen said, according to the Tribune. "We've been waiting for him for three years, and we gave him the job for three years. Last year he got hurt. It's unfortunate and a shame this kid didn't get it done."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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March, 30, 2009
03/30/09
8:59
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CHAVEZ SAYS HE'S READY (9:34 p.m. ET)
Eric Chavez says he's ready for Opening Day.

Chavez, who is rehabbing from shoulder surgery, started and played third in the Athletics' 9-5 victory over the Dodgers, his first back-to-back games in the field this spring.

Chavez was limited to designated hitter duties early in the spring, and then he had a setback that cost him about two weeks. On Monday, Chavez had a double and a walk in three trips to the plate. He is 3-for-17 this spring, but he's 2-for-6 since he returned to the lineup following his setback.

"Timing feels good," Chavez said. "I've just got to get used to getting in there every day and back-to-back days. It's always different playing in a game with the adrenaline. For some reason there are different parts that work when you have adrenaline versus when you don't."

Meanwhile, left-fielder Manny Ramirez dropped a fly ball on the warning track, then fell down while trying to make a running catch, drawing an error, during the A's four-run second inning. "My gold glove is in jeopardy," Ramirez said.

BENSON ON BOARD? (9:06 p.m. ET)
Kris Benson believes he has done enough to nail down the final spot in Texas' rotation, and manager Ron Washington agrees.

"He's one of mine," Washington said when asked if Benson is one of the Rangers' five best starters. "It's more than me making the decision."

Benson pitched six strong innings and the Rangers beat the Giants 7-5. He gave up three runs and six hits, struck out two and walked none.

Benson, who has a 4.76 ERA in 17 innings this spring, hasn't pitched in the major leagues since 2006 after rotator cuff surgery.

"I feel like every time I step on the mound and face hitters it's an audition," said Benson, who missed the 2007 season, pitched 11 Triple-A games last year and signed a minor league deal with the Rangers in February.

HARDEN BACK ON MOUND (8:24 p.m. ET)
Rich Harden returned to the mound for the first time since March 15 because of food poisoning and gave up three homers and five runs in the Cubs' 8-8, 10-inning tie with the Royals.

"I'm feeling good and got my strength back," said Harden, who gave up four hits in 4 2/3 innings while walking two and striking out four. "I threw 80 pitches and was still feeling just as strong at the end of it, which is good. We'll extend it a little more next time. My body is as strong as it's going to be. I'm ready to go."

Harden lost seven pounds after eating tainted chicken salad.

"I'm starting to put some weight back on," he said. "I'm still down a couple of pounds, but that's it. I'm definitely feeling a whole lot stronger now and it's back to normal, back to where I was before. My shoulder is feeling really strong, which is good."

Harden's next start will be Saturday at the new Yankee Stadium in the Cubs' final exhibition game.

"It's going to be nice being in Yankee Stadium, a big game like that," Harden said. "It will be like regular season. It will be packed there."

BAEK SIDELINED (8:15 p.m. ET)
Cha Seung Baek will miss his final Cactus League start and possibly the start of the season for the Padres because of a strained right forearm.

Baek left a start Sunday after four innings, complaining of soreness. The Padres are uncertain if the right-hander will be put on the disabled list.

Baek is 2-4 with a 9.27 ERA in seven starts this spring. Kevin Correia, who started for San Diego on Monday, is likely to take Baek's rotation spot should the injury linger into the season.

YANKS WATCHING CHAMBERLAIN (7:52 p.m. ET)
Joba Chamberlain needs to show Yankees manager Joe Girardi two things in his next-to-last spring training start for it to be considered a success.

"Efficency and location," Girardi said before leaving for Monday's road game against Toronto in Dunedin. "I'd like to get six innings if we could."

Chamberlain, the Yankees' No. 5 starter, is 3-0 with a 3.68 ERA in five major league spring training starts. However, the right-hander has pitched just 14 2/3 innings during the stretch, with a long of 4 1/3 innings.

Girardi feels it is "fairly important" that Chamberlain have a longer outing before spring training ends. His last scheduled preseason start is in a minor league intrasquad game Sunday in Florida.

Chamberlain split time last season between the bullpen and a starting role.

"As a reliever, it doesn't matter if you throw 25 pitches in an inning," Girardi said. "You do that as a starter, and you're not going to be deep into games. That's what we want all our starters to do."

JAYS WORRIED ABOUT RYAN (6:55 p.m. ET)
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston expressed concern about closer B.J. Ryan after he pitched a shaky eighth inning in Toronto's 3-1 loss to the Yankees.

Ryan gave up one run and two hits, including Angel Berroa's RBI double to left-center. The left-hander, who skipped the World Baseball Classic to work on his mechanics, has a 9.00 ERA this spring.

Gaston said he might consider making Scott Downs the closer and putting Ryan "somewhere else for a while and go from there." He said he wants to see how Ryan does in his final two spring appearances.

Ryan said he's moving in the right direction.

"The runs are just [from] pitching behind," he said. "Pitch behind in counts and you get in predictable counts. Aside from that there were some good things that came out of today."

JACKSON EARNS SPOT WITH TRIBE (6:40 p.m. ET)
Zach Jackson will open the season as the final pitcher on the Indians' staff.

The left-hander was told by manager Eric Wedge that he will be with the team when Cleveland opens the season in Texas against the Rangers on April 6.

"I'm excited, actually close to speechless right now," said Jackson, who was one of four players acquired by Cleveland in the July trade that sent CC Sabathia to the Brewers.

"We had discussions this morning and we're going with Zach," Wedge said, adding that veteran right-handers Matt Herges and Vinnie Chulk will be sent to Triple-A Columbus.

"Zach is a guy who is going to help us and I think sooner than later. He's had a very good camp."

Jackson began spring training in a competition for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, but Wedge liked the way the 25-year-old worked in relief. In six outings over 18 1/3 innings, he had a 6.87 ERA, but had a good walks-to-strikeouts ratio of four to 11.

RAYS RELEASE ENSBERG (6:27 p.m. ET)
The Rays released former All-Star Morgan Ensberg.

The infielder agreed to a minor league deal with the Rays in February. He hit .227 with four RBIs this spring.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said he appreciated Ensberg's efforts, but Tampa didn't have a place for him with the Triple-A club.

Ensberg, an All-Star with Houston in 2005, appeared in 28 games for the Yankees last season, batting .203 with one homer and four RBIs. He spent parts of the previous six seasons with the Astros and Padres, and is a career .263 hitter with 110 home runs.

DICE-K VS. KAWAKAMI (6:23 p.m. ET)
Kenshin Kawakami relished the opportunity to match up against fellow countryman Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Matsuzaka allowed two hits and an earned run over five innings in his return to the Red Sox from the World Baseball Classic. Kawakami gave up a two-run homer to Rocco Baldelli for his only runs, and the Braves rallied to beat the Red Sox 4-3 in 10 innings on Monday.

More than 30 Japanese media members in the press box made the game a bit more intense for the starters.

"With so many media, I guess I felt a little more excited," Kawakami, who signed with the Braves this winter after starring in Japan, said through an interpreter. "If I was in Japan, I'd probably enjoy [the matchup] also."

Matsuzaka, who was the MVP of the tournament, liked the timing of the pitching pairing as he adjusted from the pressure of the WBC to spring training.

"Luckily today, going up against Kenshin-san on the other side gave me a change to get revved up," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. "When I'm going up against any Japanese player, whether pitcher or position player, I'm always keeping an eye out on what kind of game they're going to pitch or how they're doing in the batter's box."

MAUER LIKELY TO STAY BEHIND (6:18 p.m. ET)
Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer likely won't travel with his team when it heads north to Minnesota next week.

Mauer, who is battling lingering pain and inflammation in his lower back, will consult with doctors and Twins officials in the next few days to evaluate his progress.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said there is no timetable for Mauer's return but that he seemed to be improving.

"He's moving around really good," Gardenhire said. "That's kind of nice. He has a smile on his face, which he hasn't had in a long time."

Mauer told reporters Sunday: "I feel the best I've felt all spring." The catcher said he hopes to engage in baseball activity this week but he's unsure when that will be.

"This week, I'm going to try to do more baseball stuff," Mauer said, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "When, I don't know. But it'll be good to get out there. I can't wait. It's been a long spring. But I'll put it all behind me when I get back on the field."

FULL DAY FOR SMOLTZ (5:36 p.m. ET)
John Smoltz was back in the Braves' clubhouse Monday, visiting his old team before heading off for a round of golf with Tiger Woods.

"It was good to see everybody," Smoltz, who ended his 20-year tenure with the Braves by signing with the Red Sox in January, said before Boston's spring game against Atlanta. "It was different. There are a lot of memories. ... You miss it. But it's time to move on."

Braves manager Bobby Cox said the clubhouse hasn't been nearly as loud this spring without Smoltz.

"You always heard him," Cox said. "[But] players move up."

During Smoltz's later years with the Braves, a golf date with Woods was always part of spring training. This round came a day after Woods' victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at nearby Bay Hill.

"I didn't see his [winning] putt, but I'll tell him I did," Smoltz said prior to leaving for Isleworth Country Club.

MOTTE THE MAIN MAN (5:26 p.m. ET)
The Cardinals reassigned Chris Perez to the minor leagues following their 2-1 victory over the Marlins on Monday, clearing the way for Jason Motte to get the bulk of the work as their closer.

Perez, a first round pick in 2006, experienced arm trouble earlier this spring. He entered Monday's game having made eight one-inning appearances and allowed only two earned runs.

"He's got 100 innings in minor league baseball," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's really such a young pitcher. He needs to work. He needs to work regularly. He can be the closer in Memphis and get valuable experience."

Perez's departure means Motte will get first crack at saving games, though La Russa will probably give opportunities to other relievers as well.

"We are going to use whoever is available but I would believe that Motte is going to get a chance to close games," La Russa said.

ROCKIES MAKE SOME MOVES (4:03 p.m. ET)
The Rockies have optioned outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Matt Murton and left-handed pitcher Greg Smith to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Colorado also reassigned catchers Edwin Bellorin and Paul Phillips and left-handed pitcher Randy Flores to their minor league camp.

The Rockies now have 34 players on their major league spring training roster, including eight non-roster invitees.

TIGERS DEAL FOR ANDERSON (3:31 p.m. ET)
The Detroit Tigers have acquired outfielder Josh Anderson in a trade with the Atlanta Braves.

The Tigers sent minor league pitcher Rudy Darrow to Atlanta in Monday's deal.

Anderson hit three home runs and stole 10 bases in 40 games with the Braves last year.

Darrow played at Double-A Erie and Class A West Michigan last year. The 25-year-old right-hander finished 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA in 14 appearances at Erie and went 4-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 33 games with West Michigan.

The 26-year-old Anderson was a fourth-round draft pick in 2003.

DELLUCCI PLACED ON DL (3:23 p.m. ET)
The Cleveland Indians have placed outfielder Dave Dellucci on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left calf.

Dellucci hit .240 (6-for-25) with two homers and five RBIs in eight spring games for Cleveland. This is his sixth trip to the DL since reaching the majors in 1997 with the Baltimore Orioles.

The 35-year-old signed a three-year contract as a free agent before the 2007 season.

The Indians also recalled outfielder Trevor Crowe from Triple-A Columbus on Monday. Crowe, 25, batted .289 with one homer, three RBIs and went 6-for-6 in stolen-base attempts this spring before being optioned out on Saturday.

CARPAL TUNNEL LIMITS ARROYO (2:35 p.m. ET)
Bronson Arroyo is having a flare-up of the carpal tunnel syndrome that has bothered him from time to time over the last few years. This bout is especially nasty, along with the timing. The season starts in less than one week.

"I don't know what it's from, man," Arroyo said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I can't write. I can't do anything with my pointer finger and thumb without it being irritated. I had it back in '04 in the playoffs [with Boston] pitching against the Yankees. I've had it for years."

So far, Arroyo has been able to overcome the problem, which bothers him much more when he holds a pen or a guitar pick. It returned last May and gave him problems for about three months. Arroyo finished 15-11 with a 4.77 ERA last season, when he was the only Reds pitcher who didn't miss a start. He led the staff with 200 innings. The right-hander can pitch with the problem. He'd rather not have to try.

Arroyo hasn't done very well in his last two starts during spring training. He gave up 11 hits in five innings of a game against minor leaguers on March 24 and was pounded for 14 hits and 10 runs -- three earned -- in only 4 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay on Sunday. The Rays took advantage of his inability to throw a breaking ball, something he passed off as just a bad day. There's more to it, though.

Asked if the carpal tunnel bothers his hand when he's pitching, Arroyo said, "Yeah. It's almost like taking a 220 [volt] line of electricity and pinching it off and you're only getting about two-thirds of it. You feel like you don't have much power, and you don't have much command. So I've got about another week to try to get it out of there. We'll see."

BERKMAN HAS BICEPS TENDINITIS (2:18 p.m. ET)
Lance Berkman was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis Sunday after seeing the team's doctor.

The Astros slugger will sit out the next few days but he doesn't appear to be in jeopardy of missing Opening Day. He was scratched from the Astros' lineup Saturday.

"I don't think Lance feels it's anything of great significance," Astros GM Ed Wade said, according to the Houston Chronicle. "[Athletic trainer] Nate [Lucero] didn't want him to make the trip [Saturday] because if he went over there with orders to swing the bat X number of times he would have swung the X times one hundred times. We wanted to keep him from being tempted to do too much."

Berkman said his injury doesn't affect his swing. It only bothers him when he throws.

"I'm going to try to DH [Tuesday]," Berkman told MLB.com. "That's what I'd like to do, if they'll let me."

CUBS CUT BAKO, STANTON (2:14 p.m. ET)
The Cubs released veteran catcher Paul Bako and left-hander Mike Stanton. Bako, 36, was hitting .364 this spring after signing a free-agent contract with Chicago on Jan. 30. Stanton, 41, who was out of baseball last season after being released by the Reds on April, has a career record of 68-63 with a 3.92 ERA in 1,178 games.

The Cubs also announced that catcher Koyie Hill and first baseman Micah Hoffpauir have made the Opening Day roster. Hill, who spent most of last season at Triple-A Iowa while recovering from a hand injury sustained after the 2007 season, was batting .381 this spring. Hoffpauir was batting .295 this spring, with a team-high five home runs and major league-leading 22 RBIs.

ROMERO WINS ROTATION SPOT (11:56 a.m. ET)
Rookie Ricky Romero pitched himself into the Blue Jays' starting rotation, manager Cito Gaston said Monday.

The 24-year-old left-hander was in a competition with Brad Mills and Scott Richmond for the final two spots in Toronto's rotation. Mills and Richmond are still battling for the fifth spot.

The Blue Jays' rotation is led by right-handed ace Roy Halladay. Left-hander David Purcey occupies the No. 2 slot and righty Jesse Litsch will start out of the No. 3 hole.

PIRATES DEMOTE TOUTED PROSPECT (11:49 a.m. ET)
The Pittsburgh Pirates have sent center fielder Andrew McCutchen to minor league camp and optioned infielder Brian Bixler to Triple-A Indianapolis.

The 22-year-old McCutchen is one of the team's top prospects and was a first-round draft pick in 2005. This spring, he batted .318 with two home runs, seven RBIs, two stolen bases and a team-best 12 walks.

General manager Neal Huntington said he expects both McCutchen and Bixler will play for the Pirates at some point this season.

Bixler will be Indianapolis' starting shortstop, and will get some playing time at second base.

The Pirates have 35 players remaining in camp.

REDS' ROSTER DOWN TO 33 (11:47 a.m. ET)
The Cincinnati Reds got down to 33 players by sending outfielders Jacque Jones and Norris Hopper and right-hander Daryl Thompson to the minors.

The 33-year-old Jones signed with the Reds on Feb. 5, getting a chance to win a reserve spot. He went only 4-for-45 (.089) in spring training, and was reassigned to the minor league camp Monday.

The Reds optioned Hopper and Thompson to Triple-A Louisville. Hopper batted .132 this spring, costing him a shot at a reserve role. The 23-year-old Thompson jumped from Class A to Triple-A last season. The Reds want him to get more experience in the minors.

PHILLIES CUT INFIELDER GILES (10:25 a.m. ET)
The Phillies released veteran infielder Marcus Giles on Monday. Giles was in camp as a nonroster invitee.

They also informed reliever Gary Majewski, utility infielder Pablo Ozuna and outfielder John Mayberry Jr. they won't be making the team, but they will go north with the club and play in exhibition games in Philadelphia this weekend against Tampa Bay.

-- ESPN.com's Jayson Stark

MATTHEWS STEWS AFTER DEMOTION (9:34 a.m. ET)
Gary Matthews Jr., who is in the third year of a five-year, $50 million contract, was told Sunday in a meeting with club officials that he will start the season as the Angels' fifth outfielder. He didn't take the news well.

Matthews did not travel with the team Sunday to play the Rangers. Instead, he requested and was granted a day off to cool off. He wasn't in a talking mood when approached by reporters.

"Just give me a day, guys, OK?" Matthews told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times. "Thanks."

It is unclear if Matthews has requested a trade, but when asked by reporters if he was being dealt, he said "no."

Angels general manager Tony Reagins said that currently he has no plans to deal Matthews and wouldn't disclose details of the meeting.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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March, 29, 2009
03/29/09
1:55
PM ET
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SCHMIDT UPS WORKLOAD (9:57 p.m. ET)
Jason Schmidt knows he won't be ready when the Los Angeles Dodgers open the season.

Schmidt threw 51 pitches, his most in a Cactus League game this spring, but allowed three runs, three doubles and three walks in 3 1/3 innings Sunday. San Diego beat the Dodgers 7-3 for its third straight victory after a 4-17-4 start.

Schmidt, who expects to begin the season making minor league rehab starts, struck out two in a perfect first inning before allowing a two-run double to Everth Cabrera in the second.

The right-hander began spring training hoping to be the Dodgers' No. 5 starter, but he's been unable to pitch full-tilt and has had trouble recovering from even short stints.

WOOD, DEROSA GET TO CUBS (9:22 p.m. ET)
Mark DeRosa and Kerry Wood each had an excellent day against their former team.

DeRosa homered his first two times up, doubled and hit a sacrifice fly to lead the Cleveland Indians over the Chicago Cubs 7-5 on Sunday.

Wood, the Cubs' closer last season, had a solid outing for Cleveland. He worked a scoreless seventh inning, walking one and striking out one.

The Cubs traded DeRosa to the Indians on Dec. 31 for three minor league pitching prospects. He hit both home runs and the double against Chicago starter Ted Lilly.

A'S TALK TO GALLAGHER (9:20 p.m. ET)
It was another rough day for an Oakland Athletics starting pitcher.

Sean Gallagher gave up six runs and nine hits in five innings Sunday, and then was summoned into a meeting with general manager Billy Beane. Gallagher emerged a few minutes later and said that Beane had just wanted to "light a little fire under my butt."

"It wasn't a good day of executing pitches for me," the right-hander added.

NATS SCRATCH CABRERA (9:19 p.m. ET)
Washington right-hander Daniel Cabrera was pulled because of neck spasms sustained Saturday while swinging in batting practice.

Nationals manager Manny Acta said he's not sure if the injury will affect Cabrera's ability to make his first scheduled start of the season April 8 against the Marlins.

Cabrera is day to day and hopes to get one more exhibition start this week.

"The plan is, we've got to wait and see how he is today and then try to plan accordingly," Acta said. "You can't plan on him throwing unless he's able to. He'll have another [exhibition] start. He's not a guy to worry about because he's a guy who pitched winter ball, so he's been stretched out and all that."

GARDNER NAMED YANKS' CF (7:07 p.m. ET)
Brett Gardner has won the Yankees' starting center field job.

New York manager Joe Girardi announced Sunday that Gardner beat out Melky Cabrera this spring for the starting spot on Opening Day.

The speedy Gardner had a .228 batting average over 42 games in 2008, but was successful on 13 of 14 stolen-base attempts. He is hitting .385 with five stolen bases in 22 spring training games.

The Yankees plan to have Cabrera on the regular-season roster in a backup role.

PADRES' BAEK HURT (6:38 p.m. ET)
San Diego's starting pitching is thin to begin with and things didn't improve Sunday when Cha Seung Baek left his game against the Dodgers with a strained forearm flexor in his right arm.

"We'll re-evaluate it in 24 hours to see how significant an injury it is because right now its really hard to tell,'' Padres trainer Todd Hutcheson said. "Right now I'd say it's very mild but we have to see if there is any swelling and how sore it is when he comes in in the morning. Once we re-evaluate we'll see where we go. It doesn't look bad right now.''

Baek, who figures to be the No. 3 starter if healthy, entered the game with a 1-4 record and 9.95 ERA in six Cactus League starts. He gave up five hits and two runs, walked two and struck out two in 3 1/3 innings before the injury Sunday.

-- ESPN.com's Jim Caple

HOFFMAN PLAYS CATCH (5:33 p.m. ET)
New Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman will still likely start the season on the disabled list, but he did make some progress on Sunday.

Hoffman played catch for the first time since March 20 when he was shut down with a strained muscle along his right side, according to MLB.com. The all-time saves leader and the Brewers trainer reportedly told manager Ken Macha that they were encouraged by the session.

"We still have a long way to go, but we're making progress," Macha said, according to MLB.com.

Although Hoffman will travel with the team when it breaks camp, he may still face a minor league rehabilitation assignment before making his Brewers debut.

"We're not even at step one," Macha said, according to the Web site. "Until he gets throwing on the mound, it's hard to do projections."

BIG UNIT FEELS READY (5:26 p.m. ET)
Randy Johnson thinks he's ready for the regular season despite some down time this spring.

Johnson, preparing for his first season with San Francisco, threw 80 pitches in a minor league camp game Sunday, giving up seven hits and two runs in his final Arizona appearance.

The Big Unit was 1-2 with a 2.38 ERA in four spring training starts. He faced minor leaguers twice and missed one start because of biceps tenderness.

"I feel good where I'm at now," said the 45-year-old lefty, five wins short of 300. Every pitcher goes through a tired arm, whether you are my age or 25. I'm not Nostradamus. I don't know if I'll have it again."

Johnson will make his last exhibition start Thursday against Oakland in the Bay Area series before pitching in the Giants' second regular-season game April 8 against Milwaukee.

MORROW TO BEGIN AS RELIEVER (5:20 p.m. ET)
Brandon Morrow will begin the season in the bullpen. Whether that's with the Seattle Mariners or in the minor leagues will be determined by his health.

Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said Sunday morning that because of Morrow's lack of innings this spring, he'll begin work as a reliever rather than in the starting rotation as originally planned. Morrow has been limited to three spring appearances because of forearm stiffness.

This won't be a temporary move to build arm strength after Morrow missed much of spring training with forearm stiffness. Morrow said the move was determined a week ago, adding that he "feels at home" in the bullpen and doesn't envision returning to a starting role.

"There's no discussion about going back so far," said Morrow, taken with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft and pegged since then as a starter. "I think that I'd be more useful as a bullpen pitcher than a starting pitcher."

He's scheduled to throw in games Tuesday and Wednesday if his arm is well enough.

The Mariners also optioned catcher Jeff Clement to Triple-A Tacoma. Clement was Seattle's top pick and third overall in 2005. Clement has struggled at the plate after batting .295 in 66 big-league games last year with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 203 at-bats.

PADRES TRADE BURKE TO M's (4:37 p.m. ET)
The Padres traded veteran infielder Chris Burke, who wasn't going to make the team's major league roster, to the Mariners on Sunday for cash considerations.

The trade of Burke all but guarantees that infielder Everth Cabrera, who was selected in the Rule 5 draft during the winter meetings, will make the Padres' Opening Day roster.

Burke hit .281 in 32 spring at-bats. He signed a non-guaranteed minor league contract with San Diego in the offseason.

"The bottom line is they like who they have. I think I've played well, but they like who they have. The reality is when you're a non-roster player, things could break that way," he said, according to MLB.com. "Unfortunately for me, they didn't think I was a good fit for them."

OHMAN TRIES OUT FOR DODGERS (3:35 p.m. ET)
Left-hander reliever Will Ohman pitched a two-inning simulated game against minor leaguers for the Dodgers on Sunday.

Manager Joe Torre and most of the Dodgers' front office were in attendance to watch Ohman, who is the top available reliever still on the market. Los Angeles is in need of a left-handed setup man after Joe Beimel signed with the Nationals earlier this offseason.

Ohman is reportedly seeking a contract worth at least $2 million for the upcoming season.

SHOULDER BOTHERS BERKMAN (2:18 p.m. ET)
The Astros are going to be without slugger Lance Berkman for the next few days as the first baseman struggles with a sore left shoulder.

And Berkman paints a grim picture of the pain he's having. The team hopes he'll be available to play a week from Monday in the team's regular-season opener.

"It's not a pending surgery, but let me say this -- it's more painful and worse than I initially thought," Berkman said, according to MLB.com. Berkman however, said he has no doubts he'll be able to play on Opening Day.

Berkman initially tweaked the shoulder early in camp and has since aggravated the shoulder with a diving play in a game against the Phillies on Friday and a recent batting practice session.

In other Astros moves, the team released utilityman David Newhan and assigned Chad Paronto to minor league camp.

LOWE TO START BOTH BRAVES' OPENERS (2:01 p.m. ET)
New Braves ace Derek Lowe not only will start the team's opener against the Phillies on April 5, he'll also take the mound for the team's home opener on April 10 against the Nationals.

Lowe isn't taking the responsibilities lightly.

"There's nothing wrong with saying you're going to be nervous," Lowe said, according to MLB.com. "There's no doubt. It's not only my Opening Day. But it's my Opening Day for a new team and no matter where I would have pitched in the rotation, there would have been some nervousness and anxiousness because you want to get off to a good start."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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March, 19, 2009
03/19/09
11:35
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BONDERMAN MAKES FIRST START (11:09 p.m. ET)
Jeremy Bonderman was more relieved to be back on the mound than pleased with his two scoreless innings. Bonderman made his first start since missing most of last season after having surgery to repair a circulatory condition in his shoulder and gave up two hits in the Tigers' 5-2 loss to the Braves.

Bonderman's return this spring was slowed by more soreness in the shoulder. At one point, he returned to Detroit to be examined by team physicians.

"It's been a long fight to get back," he said. "It was a relief to go out there and throw again with no pain. I'm over the hump."

The Tigers are hoping Bonderman can join a rotation that includes Justin Verlander, Armando Galarraga and Edwin Jackson after going just 3-4 with a 4.29 ERA before being shut down in June. Bonderman won at least 11 games -- and pitched at least 160 innings -- in each of the previous four seasons. On Thursday, he walked two and did not strike out a batter.

"My mechanics are not where I'd like them to be. There is a timing issue, but I'll get stronger," Bonderman said. "I'll be sore tomorrow, but normal sore. I'll be fine to throw again in five days. And the more I pitch, the stronger the arm will get."

LOWRIE, RED SOX ROUGH UP ARROYO (10:44 p.m. ET)
Jed Lowrie had another big game at the plate, hitting a two-run homer off Bronson Arroyo to lead the Red Sox over the Reds 9-1.

Arroyo was hit hard by his former team in the third inning. Lowrie's second home run of the spring came with Rocco Baldelli on base. One out and one walk later, Chris Carter went deep.

Lowrie also doubled in the first, giving him a team-high 17 hits this spring.

MARSHALL TO START FOR CUBS (10:32 p.m. ET)
Manager Lou Piniella made it official and named left-hander Sean Marshall as the Cubs' No. 5 starter to begin the season.

The 26-year-old Marshall had the inside track on the job from the beginning of spring training ahead of his chief competitors, right-handers Aaron Heilman and Jeff Samardzija.

Piniella made his announcement after Heilman started and beat the Mariners 9-2 on Thursday.

Marshall is 2-0 with an 0.63 ERA this spring while Heilman is 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA. Piniella said Heilman will go to the bullpen and pitch in the seventh and eighth innings.

TRIBE'S CARMONA HIT BY LINE DRIVE (8:41 p.m. ET)
Cleveland right-hander Fausto Carmona was hit on the right arm by a line drive while pitching in a minor league intrasquad game.

An Indians spokesman said Thursday X-rays were negative and that Carmona is "day to day with a right forearm contusion."

Carmona, a 19-game winner in 2007, missed two months last season with a strained left hip. He went only 8-7 with a 5.44 ERA, walking 70 and striking out 58 in 120 2-3 innings.

This spring, Carmona has a 2.45 ERA in four Cactus League games, including three starts. He has walked five and fanned four.

WELLS SET FOR FRIDAY RETURN (7:41 p.m. ET)
Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells is expected to return from a strained left hamstring and make his first spring training appearance this year on Friday as a designated hitter.

Wells last month re-injured the hamstring that kept him on the disabled list for a month late last season, when he hit .300 with 20 home runs and 78 RBIs in 108 games.

Toronto manager Cito Gaston said Wells may play three innings in the field Saturday before getting a day off Sunday.

PELFREY NEARING TOP FORM (7:13 p.m. ET)
Mike Pelfrey looks ready for the regular season. The Houston Astros don't.

Pelfrey pitched six sharp innings and the New York Mets routed the floundering Astros 12-1 on Thursday, dropping Houston to 1-16-3 this spring.

Pelfrey, meanwhile, is getting stronger as the spring goes on. Making his second start since skipping a turn with a strained muscle in his lower left leg, the right-hander was perfect through the first four innings Thursday. He allowed one run and three hits in all, with one walk and three strikeouts.

KAZMIR SATISFIED TO PLAY (6:07 p.m. ET)
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- A shaky spring training outing didn't faze Scott Kazmir.

Although Tampa Bay's All-Star left-hander gave up a three-run homer to Ryan Ludwick and a solo shot to Rick Ankiel during Thursday's 9-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, he didn't view his latest start as a setback.

The 25-year-old said he was affected by a stomach virus and was satisfied to get in four innings, even though the Cardinals got to him for five runs and eight hits.

BLANTON HAS BEST SPRING START (5:49 p.m. ET)
Joe Blanton had his best start of spring training, allowing just one hit over six scoreless innings for the Phillies in a 5-1 win over the Marlins.

"He threw strikes," manager Charlie Manuel said. "[Pitching coach Rich] Dubee said he threw 19 first-pitch strikes out of 20. That's unreal. That's super."

Blanton, the Phillies' No. 4 starter, struck out three and didn't walk a batter, lowering his ERA to 2.30. But he still wasn't completely satisfied.

"My location for the most part I was a little better today than I have been with it earlier in the spring," the right-hander said. "I don't know if the slider is as good as it was the last game I felt like my changeup stepped up a little bit."

KAWAKAMI SCRATCHED FROM START (3:33 p.m. ET)
Atlanta Braves right-hander Kenshin Kawakami was scratched from his scheduled spring training start Thursday night because of shoulder fatigue.

Kawakami, the first Japanese player ever signed by the Braves, is projected as one of the starters in a revamped rotation that also includes newcomers Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez.

Vazquez will start in Kawakami's place against the Detroit Tigers.

Kawakami has started three games for the Braves, going 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA in 9 2/3 innings. He has allowed eight hits, walked four and struck out four.

ONE WORD: OUCH (1:09 p.m. ET)
Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval left Wednesday's game against the Cubs after he was struck in the mouth by Joey Gathright's bad-hop grounder in the fifth inning.

Sandoval wears braces, and both his top and bottom lip were pushed into the braces. "It implanted his lips to his braces. [Trainer] Dave Groeschner had to pull his lips off," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Sandoval, the Giants' top candidate to start at third base while getting a crash course there this season, also chipped a tooth and was sent to see a dentist. "That's a hard infield, like a lot of these are in the desert, and it just came up on him," Bochy said.

Sandoval, hitting .450, is likely to miss the next two games, Bochy said.

MILLEDGE, BELLIARD NOT SERIOUSLY HURT (11:29 a.m. ET)
The Washington Nationals got some good news on the injury front Wednesday, when they learned that injuries to Lastings Milledge and Ronnie Belliard aren't believed to be serious.

Milledge is day-to-day with a left knee contusion; Belliard has a left ankle sprain and was expected to be re-evaluated on Thursday. Manager Manny Acta said the team expects Belliard to miss two or three days.

Milledge got hurt when he made knee-to-knee contact with Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez as he tried to leg out an infield single. Belliard was injured while trying to beat out a double play.

GET RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM (11:18 a.m. ET)
Jose Reyes is back in the New York Mets' leadoff spot, and for now the shortstop is there to stay.

Second baseman Luis Castillo, who had been batting leadoff, hit second again behind Reyes in the Mets' 7-4 loss Thursday to the Atlanta Braves. Manager Jerry Manuel had been batting Castillo first and Reyes third.

"[The experiment] is not over, but I think with Jose not being as active as I would have liked him to be [in the WBC], I've got to slowly get him back going," Manuel said. "To get him back going, I have to put him where he's comfortable. And I think that [leadoff spot] is where he's comfortable."

KURODA TO START DODGERS OPENER (11:06 a.m. ET)
Hiroki Kuroda has been named the Opening Day starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers' first regular-season game, April 6 at San Diego, manager Joe Torre announced.

Torre also announced that Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw will follow Kuroda in the rotation. He did not name a fifth starter.

Kuroda went 9-10 with a 3.73 ERA in 31 starts last season. He had 116 strikeouts, walked 42 and allowed 181 hits in 183 1/3 innings.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.