Category archive: Los Angeles Angels


Todd Wellemeyer made another strong start in his bid for the fifth spot in San Francisco's rotation and Aaron Rowand had two hits and drove in a run and the Giants turned away Bay Area rival Oakland 6-3 on Thursday night.

Wellemeyer, a 31-year-old right-hander who is in camp as a non-roster invitee, pitched five innings for the second straight game. He gave up two runs (one earned) and three hits while walking two and striking out four and improved to 3-0.

Rowand, the Giants' leadoff hitter, singled and scored in a two-run third inning and hit an opposite-field double to right to bring home a run in a two-run fourth after Oakland had cut the lead to 2-1. Rowand has a hit in 11 of his 13 games this spring.

John Bowker, making a bid for a reserve outfield spot, had a pair of doubles after homering twice and driving in seven runs in a 7-0 win over Kansas City on Wednesday.

Giants closer Brian Wilson recorded his second save.

-- Associated Press


Trying to earn rotation spots, Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman worked out of trouble over 4 1/3 innings, while Washington's J.D. Martin began poorly but finished well, and Johnny Damon's two hits helped a Tigers split squad beat the Nationals 8-2 Thursday night.

Still working his way back from shoulder surgery in 2008, Bonderman allowed five hits and two runs -- one earned. He also threw a wild pitch and walked a batter while recording only one 1-2-3 inning. He's competing with Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson for two openings.

Martin gave up five runs in the first, then retired the last 11 Tigers he faced over five innings.

Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan singled twice and stole two bases in his first game after being sidelined 10 days with a tight right hamstring.

-- Associated Press


Wade LeBlanc limited the Chicago White Sox to two runs over six innings and the San Diego Padres won for the 10th time in 12 games with a 5-3 victory on Thursday.

LeBlanc, battling for a spot in the Padres' starting rotation, improved to 3-0 and lowered his spring ERA to 1.80 after allowing one earned run with five strikeouts.

Third baseman Chase Headley had two hits and two RBIs for the Padres.

White Sox starting pitcher Mark Buehrle allowed two unearned runs over five innings.

-- Associated Press


Kyle Kendrick kept his name in the minds of the coaching staff and management as he continues to compete for the fifth starter's job. The 25-year-old right-hander allowed two runs -- one earned -- in 5 2/3 innings in the Phillies' 8-7 win over the Houston Astros.

"Obviously, you want to hear something, but it'll come down to the wire," Kendrick said. "They don't have to make a decision now. Like I've said before and like I've said all spring, it's out of my hands."

Kendrick is competing with 47-year-old Jamie Moyer for the final spot in the rotation. Moyer is scheduled to start Friday night when the Phillies travel to Tampa to take on the New York Yankees.

-- Associated Press


Brad Bergesen got the confidence boost he needed -- at the expense of the defending world champion New York Yankees.

Bergesen took a shutout into the sixth inning, and the Baltimore Orioles got a home run from Adam Jones in an 8-0 victory Thursday.

Bergesen allowed three hits, walked two and struck out two in 5 2/3 innings. Both his strikeouts came against Alex Rodriguez.

"Today was the best I felt," Bergesen said. "Going up against the Yankees and being able to go 5 2/3 helped out, built some confidence."

Bergesen missed the final two months of his rookie season last year after being struck in the shin by a line drive. During the offseason he injured his shoulder during a commercial shoot and was forced to sit out the first 10 days of spring training camp.

-- Associated Press


Los Angeles Angels lefty Scott Kazmir was scratched from his scheduled start Thursday against the Texas Rangers because of tightness in the deltoid muscle near his pitching shoulder.

Manager Mike Scioscia told reporters in Tempe, Ariz., that the injury, caused by fatigue in the deltoid muscle near his shoulder, should not affect Kazmir's ability to start the season on time. He is slated to open April 8 against the Oakland Athletics.

-- news services


Dontrelle Willis overcame a shaky start and allowed just one run in four innings Thursday to lead the Detroit Tigers past the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-1.

Willis, who is competing for one of the final two spots in the Tigers' rotation with Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman, walked three, but allowed only one hit. His spring training ERA rose to 1.20.

Willis walked the first two Blue Jays of the game and worked out of a jam with runners on second and third to retire the side.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland wouldn't speculate on his opening day rotation, but said that he was pleased with Willis' command of his pitches, not his control.

-- The Associated Press


Daisuke Matsuzaka made his first appearance of spring training, coming on in relief of starter Tim Wakefield, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Florida Marlins 6-4 on Thursday.

Matsuzaka, whose spring has been delayed by back and neck ailments, pitched two innings, giving up a run on two hits after Wakefield allowed three runs on six hits with two walks in six innings.

In his fifth start of the spring, Chris Volstad went 4 1/3 innings for Florida, giving up four runs -- one earned -- on eight hits with three strikeouts and no walks.

Dan Uggla hit a two-run homer for the Marlins, his second home run of spring training.

-- The Associated Press


Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, who is recovering from a right high ankle sprain, hit off a tee on Monday. He has yet to put any pressure on his ankle while running, but is still targeting a Monday return to game action.

"I'm trying to keep a bat in my hands as much as possible," Kinsler said. "It's just a matter of getting the timing down. The key is seeing as many off-speed pitches as I can. So that's what I'm hoping to do."

-- Richard Durrett,


The New York Yankees have released pitcher Chad Gaudin, who was one of five candidates for the fifth starter spot.

New York general manager Brian Cashman made the announcement on Thursday.

Gaudin went 2-0 with a 3.43 ERA in 11 games, including six starts, with the Yankees last season.

Also, Alex Rodriguez declined comment for the second straight day on his pending meeting with federal investigators regarding his possible connection to a Canadian physician.

The Yankees third baseman is scheduled to meet with officials Friday in Buffalo, N.Y.

-- The Associated Press

Roy Halladay pitched three shutout innings and struck out five in his second spring appearance as the Phillies downed the Braves 7-4.

Halladay was making his second start since being acquired from the Blue Jays during the offseason. Halladay went 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA for the Blue Jays last season. He said the results didn't matter and that he's just looking do build his stamina for the season. He's pitched five innings this spring without allowing a run.

-- The Associated Press

Justin Upton hit a two-run homer and the Diamondbacks roughed up right-hander Aaron Harang in his first spring training start, pulling away to a 10-4 victory over the Reds.

Upton got a six-year, $51.25 million deal -- the second-largest in franchise history -- last week. The 22-year-old outfielder singled home a run and had a two-run shot off Matt Maloney, who is competing for the Reds' fifth starter role.

Harang, already picked to start his fifth straight season opener, lasted only 1 1/3 innings. He gave up four hits, including three doubles, and walked one, allowing three runs overall.

When spring training began, manager Dusty Baker was noncommittal about whether Harang would start a fifth straight season opener. He has since decided to stay with Harang.

"The ball was coming out of Aaron's hand real nice today," Baker said. "He got two strikes on almost everybody but couldn't put them away. He threw 50 pitches in a short period of time."

-- The Associated Press

Hideki Matsui made his spring debut for the Los Angeles Angels, getting a single in two trips to the plate during a 6-5 win over the San Diego Padres.

Matsui struck out against Chris Young in the first and grounded Radhames Liz's 3-1 pitch up the middle for a hit in the fourth.

Matsui agreed to a $6 million, one-year contract with the Angels in December after spending seven seasons with the New York Yankees. The Japanese slugger hit .274 with 28 homers and 90 RBIs last year, then was selected World Series MVP despite starting only three of the six games against Philadelphia.

He was scheduled to make his Angels debut on Sunday but the game was rained out.

-- The Associated Press

Left-hander Jeff Francis is hoping his second spring start goes better than his first.

Francis missed last season following shoulder surgery and was hit hard in his first spring start against San Francisco on Friday. He is scheduled to face Kansas City on Wednesday.

Francis says he has made progress during his bullpen sessions and may have been a little too excited when he faced the Giants.

Francis went 17-9 in 2007, helping the Rockies reach the World Series. He slumped to 4-10 in 24 starts in 2008 when he was plagued by shoulder problems.

He underwent arthroscopic surgery to have his torn left labrum repaired last year.

-- The Associated Press

Blue Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan is feeling good this spring as he tries to make it back from shoulder surgery. McGowan threw 30 pitches during a simulated game at Toronto's minor league complex while the rest of the team had the day off.

McGowan hasn't appeared in a major league game since July 8, 2008. He had season-ending surgery three weeks later to repair a frayed labrum and a series of setbacks sidelined him last season.

If McGowan feels no soreness Wednesday or Thursday, the plan is for him to throw one more simulated game, most likely Sunday or Monday. He then could appear in a spring game in mid-March.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos says McGowan looked great Tuesday.

-- The Associated Press

Royals catcher Jason Kendall has returned to spring training and says his divorce and child custody case won't be a distraction.

Kendall missed the exhibition game Monday against Cincinnati to be in court in Los Angeles. He returned Tuesday and told reporters he will not "dignify the ridiculous accusations" being carried by various media outlets about his divorce.

He says he wants his personal life to remain private. Kendall, a three-time All Star, brushed off any thought the divorce would affect his play, saying, "Not at all."

Kendall signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Royals in December. The 14-year veteran played the past two seasons in Milwaukee.

-- The Associated Press

Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey returned to the mound Tuesday after being sidelined by a sore right leg.

Pelfrey was struck on the outside of the knee by a comebacker during his first spring start Saturday. He stayed in the game against the Nationals and pitched three innings, but he pushed a scheduled bullpen session back a day because the leg was sore.

Pelfrey said he still had a large bruise but was planning to make his next scheduled start Thursday against the Red Sox.

"It's a little sore but tolerable," he said. "Hopefully after two more days it will feel a lot better."

Closer Francisco Rodriguez, who missed more than two weeks of camp with conjunctivitis, also threw a bullpen session. It was his first time on a mound since Feb. 28. Rodriguez returned to camp Monday and could pitch in a game as soon as Saturday.

Rodriguez still has pink eye, but it's no longer considered contagious. Because he isn't allowed to wear contact lenses yet, he sported prescription sunglasses similar to the ones he wore from 2003 to 2007 while pitching for the Angels.

-- The Associated Press

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts is feeling ill, hurting his rehabilitation for a back injury.

Roberts, who led the American League with 56 doubles last season, has yet to play this spring. To speed his recuperation from the back injury, Orioles medical personnel gave him some medication on Sunday. On Monday night, he reported feeling ill. Manager Dave Trembley says Roberts will not be able to resume baseball activities until at least Thursday.

The Orioles begin the season April 6 at Tampa Bay, and Trembley says he believes Roberts will be ready as long as he gets at least 25 at-bats this spring.

"I'm still confident we can get him that," Trembley said. "I'd still like to see him out on the field, but can't get out on the field now that he's sick."

Baltimore also renewed the contract of outfielder Adam Jones on Tuesday for $465,000. Jones, beginning his third season with the Orioles, said he was not upset about the move. "There's no bad blood between the sides," Jones said. "Sign and play out this year."

-- The Associated Press

Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez has begun taking swings off a tee and considers himself ahead of schedule as he recovers from a procedure on his non-throwing left shoulder.

But he's still set to begin the season on the disabled list. A three-time All-Star and the 2006 NL batting champion with Pittsburgh, Sanchez had the shoulder procedure Dec. 23. He's also coming off left knee surgery late last season.

"That hasn't changed," general manager Brian Sabean said. "The optimism is great but that doesn't mean a whole lot. He needs to be game-ready and until he plays a game we can't have a timetable."

Sanchez signed a $12 million, two-year contract with the Giants on Oct. 30. He was acquired July 29 in a trade with the Pirates but was limited to 25 games for San Francisco because of injuries.

-- The Associated Press

Chad Cordero, who accepted a minor league offer from the Seattle Mariners last year, knows he might not stick with the big club right away, and is mentally prepared to pitch in the minors for a while.

But he can still imagine his return to a major league ballgame -- and that would be a triumphant return after suffering career-threatening injuries in 2008 while pitching for the Washington Nationals.

Cordero had a spectacular start to his career. In 2005, he saved a major-league high 47 games in his first full big-league season in Washington. He had 27 saves in 2006 and 37 in 2007, becoming the second- youngest pitcher in history to reach the 100-save plateau, at age 25.

"All those years in D.C., I was feeling so good, then all of a sudden it all comes crumbling down," Cordero said. "It was definitely something I can learn from. Just go out there and work hard and never take this game for granted. This game is awesome and I never want to stop playing."

Cordero, with a torn side muscle, torn labrum and torn biceps, had season-ending shoulder surgery on July 8, 2008, The Nationals released him after the season, and no one took a chance on him. He rehabbed by himself in 2009, and pitched a few innings for a pair of low-level teams.

In his first outing last Friday for the Mariners, Cordero allowed an opening single, then retired the next three batters.

"It'll definitely be exciting to be back up there again but once I get on the mound it'll be like I never left," Cordero said. "I'll be really excited, like a little kid again."

-- The Associated Press


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


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."
-- news services


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.
-- news services


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

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


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.
-- news services


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


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


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


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


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


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


February, 20, 2010
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

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

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

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

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' 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

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

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

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

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

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

After watching Takashi Saito's first throwing session of spring training, Braves manager Bobby Cox had one word to sum it all up:


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,

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,

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

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

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

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

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.

-- news services

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

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."



April, 2, 2009
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Huston Street is taking over the closer role for the Colorado Rockies.

Street, a right-hander acquired as part of a November trade with the Oakland Athletics involving for Matt Holliday, was named Colorado's closer before the Rockies' 7-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.

"This is what I came to camp to accomplish and it's a role I feel comfortable with. There is a lot of responsibility that goes along with it," Street said. "My teammates should expect me to not only get the job done but be prepared to get the job done. That's what I spent the whole offseason doing. I feel like this is just the beginning."

Street, who lost his closing role to Brad Ziegler with the A's last season, has beaten out Manuel Corpas despite early spring struggles.

Fans booed the mayor before Cincinnati's final spring training game in Florida and, in front of only less than half the capacity of Ed Smith Stadium, the Reds wrapped up a dozen years in Sarasota with a 6-5 loss to a Pittsburgh Pirates split squad.

The Reds have trained in Florida since the 1920s, but are moving to Arizona -- the site of their first camp in 1891 -- to share a complex with the Cleveland Indians.

The small crowd vented at politicians who failed to keep the team in town and have been unable to lure a replacement. Mayor Lou Ann Palmer and two other local officials were booed loudly on the field before the game. When Palmer asked the crowd for a moment of silence over the Reds' departure, one man yelled: "It's your fault!"

With that, the mayor invited the fans to go ahead and express their frustration.They did, providing a long, collective boo. "I'm glad so many of you are angry with us, I really am," she said, "because I'm angry with us, too."

Reds owner Bob Castellini presented mementos to the stadium crew and thanked residents for supporting the team for 12 years.

Ichiro Suzuki was examined by a doctor to try to determine the cause of fatigue that has kept him out the past three days.

Late Thursday, the team said results of Ichiro's exam would be available Friday.

Ichiro wasn't around the clubhouse Thursday morning, the Mariners' final day in Arizona. He experienced some fatigue and light-headedness earlier this week. Ichiro is still expected to accompany the team to Las Vegas on Friday for a pair of games against the Rockies.

Ichiro played nine games during the World Baseball Classic last month before arriving in the Mariners' spring training camp on March 26. He has played in four spring training games.

Twins right-hander Scott Baker has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder stiffness and will miss at least his first two scheduled starts, including Opening Day.

Left-hander Francisco Liriano will take the mound for Minnesota on Monday against Seattle. The move with Baker was made retroactively to last Saturday, making him eligible to return April 12.

The Twins also put right-hander Boof Bonser and catcher Joe Mauer on the DL Thursday.

Bonser had shoulder surgery and is expected to miss the season. Mauer is recovering from inflammation in his lower back, which will keep him out for at least the next few weeks.

The Nationals put first baseman Dmitri Young, who has hip and back strains, on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 1. This is in addition to putting second baseman Anderson Hernandez on the DL because of a left hamstring strain, which the team announced on Wednesday.

Hernandez hit .276 with four RBIs in 11 games this spring; Young hit .250 with one home run and three RBIs in four Grapefruit League contests.

Phillies backup catcher Chris Coste still owns a home in Fargo, N.D., and he's been keeping up to date on the Red River flooding there.

Coste, in Clearwater, Fla., told The Forum of Fargo that he felt as if he should be helping people in Fargo, which has been on edge with a cresting Red River and the threat of disastrous flooding, in addition to a snowstorm.

"You almost feel guilty," Coste told the newspaper. "I'm all the way down here in the warm weather when I feel like I should be up there sandbagging or doing something else."

Coste, 36, said his Fargo home, which his relatives have been tending, was not damaged by the flood.

Coste's wife, Marcia, and his two daughters, ages 9 years and 9 months, won't return to Fargo "until 100 percent everything is safe."

Shane Loux did not leave a particularly solid impression in his final chance at a rotation spot, but indications are that Loux, a career minor leaguer, will open this season in the majors.

Loux gave up three runs, two of them earned, in five innings in a 5-4 loss to the Rangers on Wednesday. Manager Mike Scioscia has been coy and vague regarding who will be in the starting rotation.

"[Loux] is certainly a guy competing for one of our rotation spots and our pitching staff," Scioscia said. "He's been throwing well, but he wasn't sharp today. But his stuff is there."

Loux, 29, clearly would cherish the opportunity to be with the Angels on Opening Day.

"For 12 or 13 years, playing all over the country, up and down, my goal has always been to be a major leaguer on Day 1," Loux said. "It's never happened for me. Obviously it's a dream. I'm not going to take anything for granted on April 6. It's going to be a special moment for me. I'm a fan of the game and it's going to mean a lot to me."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


March, 31, 2009
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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."

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.


March, 30, 2009
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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.

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."

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.

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."

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."

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.

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."

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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 "That's what I'd like to do, if they'll let me."

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.

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.

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.

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.

--'s Jayson Stark

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.


March, 28, 2009
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Tim Lincecum got in some work on the mound in a minor league warmup against the Los Angeles Angels.

The NL Cy Young winner, trying to improve his mechanics, allowed one run on five hits and struck out six in five innings Saturday night for the San Francisco Giants.

San Francisco held Lincecum out of the team's game against San Diego because he could face the Padres twice in the first three weeks of the regular season. Lincecum is scheduled to start the first game of the Bay Area series against Oakland on Thursday before facing Milwaukee in the Giants' regular-season opener April 7 at AT&T Park.

"I can't emphasize it enough, the rhythm thing," Lincecum said. "I just haven't found a consistent track to keep holding onto that rhythm. It's a little frustrating, but I'm glad I got a little bit more time before the season starts. [Spring training] is always a matter of trying to get everything back. It's a matter of getting your body used to the games, the grind, everything. Just taking all that in.

"Every year, it's trying to get that again and again."

Jason Hammel made his case to win a spot in Tampa Bay's starting rotation, tossing five scoreless innings in the Rays' 5-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.

Hammel walked Willy Taveras to start the game, but picked him off first base for the first out. Hammel sailed from there, allowing just two hits and striking out four.

"I just went back to the aggressive approach that I was using early in camp," Hammel said. "It was basically just attack. I wasn't going to walk guys today. The one walk to Willy was pretty close."

Manager Joe Maddon was pleased with the way Hammel commanded his fastball, pounding it low in the strike zone. He also liked the way the right-hander was able to shake off his previous outing against the Pirates, in which he allowed four runs on six hits and walked five in four innings against the Pirates.

Hammel is competing with Jeff Niemann for the final spot with the runner-up headed to the bullpen as the long man.

John Lackey received a cortisone shot to hasten the healing process for his sore right elbow Saturday.

"It's difficult to quantify but I don't think it's anything major," said Dr. Lewis Yokum, who flew in to examine Lackey. "Obviously it's frustrating for him."

Yokum said the current elbow strain is unrelated to the elbow injury that caused Lackey to miss the first six weeks of last season. This strain is on the inside of the elbow while last year's was on the outside.

Lackey, who will almost certainly open the season on the disabled list, will rest the arm for at least three to four days. Yokum said it's a coin flip as to how long he'll need once he begins throwing again. "Hopefully we got the elbow quieted down. It could be a couple weeks. But if we didn't get rid of the inflammation, it could be longer.''

With Ervin Santana (elbow) and Kelvim Escobar (labrum) also likely to open the year on the d.l., Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, Dustin Mosely, Nick Adenhart and Shane Loux are the probable rotation when the season opens.

Escobar threw 40 pitches and retired the first 10 batters he faced in a minor league game Saturday.

-- writer Jim Caple

Shairon Martis and Jordan Zimmermann have won the last two spots in the Washington Nationals' starting rotation.

Martis will start the year on the big league roster, but Zimmermann will start the year in the minors before his first start against Florida on April 19.

The Nationals also placed outfielder Wily Mo Pena on waivers Saturday, and reassigned infielder Jose Castillo and outfielder Corey Patterson to minor league camp.

Catcher Javier Valentin also was reassigned, but opted out to become a free agent. Pitcher Collin Balester also was reassigned to Triple-A Syracuse.


Catcher Ronny Paulino was traded Saturday for the second time in 24 hours and the third time since December, and he's now with the Florida Marlins.

The San Francisco Giants sent Paulino to Florida for minor-league right-hander Hector Correa. The deal was announced Saturday after Paulino was traded Friday night to the Giants from the Philadelphia Phillies for left-handed pitcher Jack Taschner.

Paulino is expected to share playing time with John Baker. Paulino was traded to the Phillies from Pittsburgh last Dec. 10 for catcher Jason Jaramillo. He had spent his entire career with the Pirates and hit .212 last year while being limited to 40 games because of a sprained ankle.

Derek Jeter bruised a knuckle on his left pinkie during a collision at first base in the first inning of the New York Yankees' game against Atlanta on Saturday, but remained in the game.

He played three innings in the field, and the team said Jeter is fine.

The Yankees captain ran into Braves first baseman Greg Norton, who moved along the first-base line to catch a throw from second baseman Martin Prado after Prado fielded Jeter's grounder.

Cincinnati Reds right-hander Aaron Harang got a quicker start on his offseason conditioning program.

The stocky starter lost 33 pounds in an effort to make sure last year's hideous 6-17 season didn't happen again.

The 6-foot-7 pitcher is noticeably thinner around the middle. During his career-worst season in 2008, he topped out at 284 pounds. He was hurt for nearly a month, with a strained right forearm disabling him from mid-July to early August.

"That was a tough year on him last year," manager Dusty Baker said. "Different people handle those tough years in a different way. But I think he really dedicated himself over the winter. You don't lose that weight in a month. You dedicate yourself for three or four months. It's really tough to do that.

"It shows you how badly he wanted to return to excellence."

Once glance says it all.

The Cleveland Indians optioned outfielder Trevor Crowe and utility player Chris Gimenez to Triple-A Columbus of the International League on Saturday.

Crowe, drafted in the first round out of Arizona in 2005, lost a battle to veterans Tony Graffanino and Josh Barfield for the final position-player spot on the roster. The switch-hitter batted .289 with one homer and three RBIs in 17 spring exhibition games.

The 26-year-old Gimenez hit .357 with two homers and seven RBIs in 20 games at catcher, first base, third base, left field and right field.

"He's put himself on the radar," Wedge said of Gimenez, a 19th-round pick out of Nevada in 2004.

The Pirates reduced their spring training roster to 37 players Saturday by optioning outfielder Steve Pearce and catcher Robinzon Diaz to Triple-A Indianapolis and assigning infielder Anderson Machado to their minor league camp.

Diaz was sent down after the Pirates settled on Jason Jaramillo as catcher Ryan Doumit's backup. Jaramillo was acquired during the offseason from the Phillies for former Pirates starting catcher Ronny Paulino, was dealt by Philadelphia to San Francisco on Friday for reliever Jack Taschner.

Pearce was unable to break into a now-crowded outfield that added Eric Hinske and Craig Monroe during the offseason and is expected to play first base at Indianapolis. Pearce hit .212 this spring with no homers and three RBIs.

Don't count on seeing starter Jeremy Bonderman or reliever Joel Zumaya on Detroit's active roster when the Tigers start the regular season.

"In my personal opinion, it's highly unlikely that [Bonderman] will be ready to start the season," manager Jim Leyland said Saturday in Dunedin, Fla., where the Tigers were playing the Blue Jays.

Leyland said the same goes for Zumaya, who has yet to pitch in an actual game this spring. Zumaya threw in a minor-league intrasquad game on Saturday, but the team didn't disclose the results of that outing.

Bonderman is scheduled to start on Sunday in Lakeland and throw 50 pitches against the Braves.

Last season, the Tigers unsuccessfully tried to bring Bonderman and Zumaya back from injuries. It didn't work, and there won't be a repeat of that strategy this year, Leyland said.

"We've gotta use our brains [with Bonderman]," Leyland said. "The same goes for Zumaya. We're not going to rush them back. ... I've had enough of that. We don't want to go through that again."

If Bonderman isn't ready for Opening Day, Zach Miner is likely to wind up in the Tigers' rotation. And 20-year-old Rick Porcello, a highly-touted prospect, is still very much in the mix for a roster spot.

How much? Leyland, rather than take the bus from Lakeland to Dunedin on Saturday morning, stayed behind to watch Porcello throw a bullpen session, then drove to Dunedin on his own.

Leyland said he wanted to have a few words with Porcello. "I just wanted to talk to him. I wanted to make a few comments. I think that was really important," he said.

-- baseball writer Jayson Stark


John Lackey is doubtful to start for the Angels on Opening Day after an MRI revealed inflammation in his throwing elbow. Lackey was expected to start the season on the disabled list.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Friday that "right now, it's definitely unlikely" Lackey will be ready for the April 6 game against the Oakland Athletics, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Lackey joins Ervin Santana, out with a sprained elbow ligament, and Kelvim Escobar, who is rehabbing from shoulder surgery, as Angels starters recovering from injury.

"We have starting pitching depth, but right now we're stretching it as far as we're comfortable with," Scioscia said, according to the newspaper.

The Boston Red Sox will send Josh Beckett to the mound on Opening Day against the Tampa Bay Rays, manager Terry Francona said Saturday. James Shields will oppose Beckett in the opener, on Monday, April 6 at Fenway Park. On Wednesday, the Red Sox will start Jon Lester against the Rays' Scott Kazmir.

On Thursday, Daisuke Matsuzaka will go for Boston against Tampa Bay's Matt Garza.

Francona also said that Lester and Matsuzaka will start a pair of exhibition games April 3-4 against the New York Mets at their new home, Citi Field.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.


March, 24, 2009
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Derek Jeter rejoined the Yankees from the World Baseball Classic and was in the starting lineup at shortstop for Tuesday night's game against Boston.

Jeter received a loud ovation from fans at George M. Steinbrenner Field when he batted for the first time in the first inning. He went 1-for-2 with a walk and played seven innings in the Yankees' 7-1 win over the Red Sox.

"It's important he's here," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "It's really exciting. It's important to come together as a team."

Jeter, who grounded out in the first, hit a soft liner to right for a fourth-inning single and walked during the sixth against Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, will play in most of the Yankees' remaining spring training games in preparation for the regular-season opener April 6 at Baltimore.

"We've still got what, a week and a half?" he said. "I don't see it being an issue. I've got plenty of time. Physically I'm fine. It's good to get back and now get into a routine of playing every day."

Eric Byrnes appears to be fully recovered from the hamstring problems that sidelined him for much of last season -- at least at the plate.

Byrnes had two more hits Tuesday for the Diamondbacks in a 7-3 loss to the Giants.

The Diamondback outfielder had singles in his first two at-bats, giving him five straight hits after going 0-for-3 in his first game since being sidelined June 30 because of a hamstring injury.

"To string together five in a row, I am not going to complain about that, especially when they all were hit pretty solidly," Byrnes said.

Byrnes went hitless in his spring debut March 20, was 3-for-3 in his second outing before getting a run-scoring single in the first inning against the Giants. He added another hit in the third, and had a stolen base.

"I feel like I am fighting for playing time. Any time I go out there, that is my mentality," Byrnes said.

Chase Utley hit his first home run since hip surgery and Chan Ho Park made his latest bid for a rotation spot, helping the Phillies rally past the Blue Jays 7-6.

Utley drove in three runs, two on a homer off closer B.J. Ryan. It was the All-Star second baseman's first long ball since he had hip surgery in November.

Park gave up three runs and four hits in four innings. He struck out seven and walked one. The veteran right-hander is competing with 26-year-old lefty J.A. Happ for the final spot in Philadelphia's rotation.

"It didn't hurt him at all," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We need people to get people out. That's what we're looking for."

The Yankees put individual game tickets on sale for the first season of their new ballpark and said they had sold 170,000 by midday Tuesday.

Yankees chief operating Lonn Trost said the sale began with full-season equivalents at just under 36,000 for the 52,000-capacity ballpark. He said January's announcement that full-season equivalents had reached 39,393 resulted from an internal team miscommunication and the higher figure referred to the final season at old Yankee Stadium, which held about 57,000 seats.

According to the Yankees' Web site, as of early evening tickets remained at $2,625 for the April 16 home opener against Cleveland, each with a $59.70 convenience charge.

Tickets are priced at $525, $625, $900, $1,050, $1,300 and $2,625 for the Legends seats ringing the infield, which include food and soft drinks. Other field level seats are $90, $125, $225, $250, $300 and $375.

Main level tickets go for $60, $80, $95 and $150, while the terrace level is $50, $75 and $85, grandstand $23 and $30, and bleachers $14.

Tickets for the Delta Sky 360 Suite sell for $375-800 and the Jim Beam Suite goes for $120-150 a seat.

Koji Uehara showed no ill effects from a left hamstring strain that had kept him out of Grapefruit League play since March 9, and the new changeup he unveiled worked just fine.

Uehara struck out seven in 3 2/3 innings in the Orioles' 3-1 loss to the Nationals, using his first outing in more than two weeks to try out a new pitch he learned while sidelined.

"I'm the type of guy who wants to try new pitches on the mound in game situations, rather than do it in bullpen sessions," Uehara said through a translator.

Uehara, who threw 40 of his 57 pitches for strikes, allowed a run and three hits without issuing a walk. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz taught the right-hander the new pitch during his last bullpen session and the Orioles' first Japanese-born player quickly integrated it into his repertoire in the longest of his four spring outings.

"I hope he's happy with it. He threw it and got instant results," Kranitz said. "Anytime you're learning a new pitch or trying a new pitch, it's nice to get some instant success. ... It looked like it was a natural pitch for him."

No one is happier to have Jose Oquendo back from the World Baseball Classic than Cardinals outfielder-turned-second baseman Skip Schumaker.

The Cardinals are giving Schumaker a crash course in becoming an infielder, hoping his bat will offset any defensive liabilities. But the conversion hit a rough patch while Oquendo, the team's infield instructor and third base coach, was away managing Puerto Rico's WBC team.

Schumaker continued to work with bench coach Joe Pettini during Oquendo's absence, and he's getting better. After making four errors early in the spring, he hasn't made one in two weeks, but Schumaker is struggling with intricate details of the position.

"I'm not going to take anything away from Joe, because he really did help me a lot, but Oquendo has a special talent out there," Schumaker said.

If Schumaker isn't ready, manager Tony La Russa will likely turn to utility infielder Brendan Ryan at second base for Opening Day. But that wouldn't mean the experiment is over.

"We're going to make it work," Oquendo said. "It's going to be fine. We are going to be able to use him. That gives [La Russa] another option to get Schumaker in the games and get more at-bats."

New York Mets right-hander Freddy Garcia has an accepted an assignment to the team's minor league camp, assistant GM John Ricco said, according to the New York Daily News.

Garcia, attempting a comeback from shoulder surgery, was competing to be the Mets' fifth starter. It now appears that job will go to Livan Hernandez.

According to the report, Ricco indicated that Garcia will report to minor league camp for the rest of spring training, and then either remain for extended spring training or join the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, the Mets' top minor league club.

"He still has a ways to go, but I'm glad he's going to stay with us and try to work things out," Ricco said, according to the Daily News.

The Cleveland Indians have sent left-hander Jeremy Sowers, outfield prospects Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley, and four others to the minors.

Sowers, the sixth overall pick in the 2004 draft, lost out in the battle for Cleveland's No. 5 rotation spot. Lefties Aaron Laffey and Scott Lewis are still in the running for the final rotation berth.

LaPorta and Brantley were acquired in July in the blockbuster trade that sent CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers. They were reassigned Tuesday to minor league camp along with right-handers Kirk Saarloos and Greg Aquino and first baseman Michael Aubrey.

Sowers and catcher Wyatt Toregas were optioned to Triple-A Columbus.

Kelvim Escobar's fastball has recently been clocked in the high 90s, an indication that the Angels right-hander is ahead of schedule in recovering from shoulder problems that cost him all of 2008.

Escobar's fastball topped out at 96 mph in a Triple-A game against the Cubs, the Los Angeles Times reported. Facing seven batters, Escobar threw 18 of his 34 pitches for strikes, was clocked between 94 and 96 mph and gave up two hits, with one strikeout and one walk.

"Oh man, I feel good," Escobar said, according to the Times. "I knew I had good velocity, but I never thought I'd be throwing 96."

Escobar hopes he can gradually increase his workload in the weeks to come, according to the report. At that pace and barring any setbacks, the Angels could have him back in the starting rotation sometime in April. They'd be getting back a pitcher who went 18-7 with a 3.40 ERA in 2007.

"I've tested my arm many times this spring, and it feels fine," Escobar said, according to the Times. "Now, I'm going to focus on mechanics and making good pitches."

Now that he leads his team in seniority with eight seasons in Pittsburgh, Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson has realized that it's time to be a leader. Wilson admits he wasn't comfortable in that role before, but he's embracing it as the Pirates try to produce a winning season after 16 straight years of sub-.500 records.

"I've always felt there's been someone in the clubhouse that has more time than myself, and it's not really my job," Wilson said. "This is the first year I've been the senior guy. It definitely puts a change in you and your heart and how you want to lead."

Wilson began the change with a bold step. At hitting coach Don Long's suggestion, he completely rebuilt his swing, in the hopes he could recover the power at the plate that abandoned him last season. He finished 2008 with one homer in 305 at-bats, down from the 12 he hit in 477 at-bats in '07.

Instead of a tuneup, Wilson went for an overhaul by adopting a swing that begins with his hands much lower than before -- despite the fact his stance had been hands-high since he was 6 years old. And Wilson stuck with it, despite an 0-for-23 slump that ended Saturday. He had two doubles against the Rays on Monday.

"Obviously, I didn't really like it that much at first -- you've got to change your whole swing," Wilson said. "But, watching films from past years of my bat path, [Long] showed me we could have a better pass at the ball if we brought the hands down."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Seattle right-hander Brandon Morrow may have to pitch out of the bullpen to get his work in this spring.

Morrow, who is projected to be the Mariners' fifth starter, has been slowed by a stiff forearm in training camp and hasn't pitched in a Cactus League game since March 1. There are concerns the 24-year-old's arm won't be strong enough to handle the rigors of starting when the regular season begins April 6.

Manager Don Wakamatsu in the past has shot down talk of using Morrow in the bullpen, but now is keeping his options open.

Wakamatsu said Saturday that he thinks it will come down to the last week of camp, to see how much Morrow progresses, before he can decide whether he will be a starter.

Tom Glavine knows the end of his career is in sight and he wants to leave on his own terms.

The Atlanta Braves lefty pitched three pain-free innings against his former team in his first start this spring, allowing only two hits Saturday in a 12-1 win over the New York Mets.

Glavine had thrown a simulated game Monday and said he felt as though he'd be ready to join the rotation in about a month.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner has 305 wins, but he started a career-low 13 games last year, going 2-4 before his season was cut short due to elbow surgery. Glavine, who will turn 43 on Wednesday, contemplated retirement but said he wasn't quite finished.

Kevin Youkilis could rejoin the Boston Red Sox lineup on Monday after giving his sprained left ankle more time to lead. J.D. Drew could need more time to get back on the field after bruising a hand when getting hit by a pitch.

Youkilis returned to the Red Sox on Wednesday from the World Baseball Classic with a mild sprain and mild Achilles tendinitis in his left foot. The first baseman had been wearing a hard plastic boot, then was examined Saturday by team physician Dr. Peter Asnis and took batting practice while wearing running shoes.

"He can maybe get a couple of at-bats on Monday," manager Terry Francona before his team's game against the Marlins in Jupiter. "We certainly don't want this to linger."

Drew did not participate in an on-field workout Saturday, a day after he was hit on the right hand by a Donnie Veal pitch. X-rays Friday were negative.

"Just kind of hang out until it feels well enough to start swinging and stuff," Drew said. "It feels pretty good, just stiff and sore from the bruise. But fortunately, it doesn't look like it's broke or anything. Hopefully, I don't have any issues when I start coming back to swing."

Francona said the team will proceed cautiously.

"It will be completely day to day on how he feels and how quickly the bruise doesn't feel bruised," the manager said.

Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton was hit by a pitch on the left hand during a minor league game, however the Rays don't believe it's a serious injury.

X-rays were negative Saturday. The defending AL champions said the center fielder has a bone bruise and described his status as day to day. Upton has been limited throughout spring training while rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery.

The 24-year-old played most of last year with an injured left shoulder that affected his production at the plate. He had surgery shortly after the World Series and has yet to appear in a major league exhibition this spring training.

Eric Chavez has been cleared to take batting practice for the first time in nearly two weeks.

Chavez, rehabbing from shoulder surgery, was tested Saturday using pulleys and swinging a bat without a ball. Chavez had not swung a bat since a setback on March. 8.

In other A's news, left-hander Dallas Braden was scratched from his scheduled start in Saturday's split-squad game against the Mariners at Peoria. Braden had a root canal operation on Friday and was not ready to pitch. He was rescheduled for Sunday against the White Sox.

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Left-hander John Parrish will return to Baltimore for exploratory arthroscopic procedure on his sore pitching shoulder.

Parrish, with the Orioles on a minor league contract, hasn't pitched during spring training because of the shoulder injury.

The 31-year-old was 1-1 with a 4.04 ERA last year for Toronto in six starts and seven relief appearances.

The Washington Nationals signed catcher Josh Bard to a minor-league deal on Saturday, adding another veteran to compete for the backup job behind Jesus Flores.

Bard was released by the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, and will join the Nationals' big league camp. He would make $600,000 this year if he makes the major league team.

The 30-year-old catcher played 57 games for San Diego last season, hitting .202 with a home run and 16 RBIs. His best season came in 2006, when he hit .338 with nine home runs and 40 RBIs in 93 games for the Padres.

Wil Nieves caught 68 games as the Nationals' backup last season, and figured to have a roster spot locked up until Washington signed Bard. The two will now compete for the backup spot.


Right fielder J.D. Drew was held out of the Boston Red Sox's lineup with an injured right hand Saturday, a day after getting hit by a pitch from Pirates left-hander Donnie Veal.

"It'll be day-to-day on how he feels, and how quickly the bruise doesn't feel bruised," manager Terry Francona said, according to

First baseman Kevin Youkilis, who returned this week to Fort Myers, Fla., from the World Baseball Classic with a mild sprained ankle and mild Achilles tendinitis in his left foot, took batting practice and fielded ground balls Saturday.

Youkilis could return to live games as soon as Monday, reported.

"We'll see about that," Francona said. "Since he's in the boot and not feeling too good, we certainly don't want this to linger, so I'll talk to Youk and the medical people about that."


Phil Hughes was among six right-handed pitchers the New York Yankees sent down Saturday to their minor league spring training camp.

"I told him that he had a great camp and to keep working," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said of Hughes, according to "We told him about all the things that we saw and what he needs to continue to work on.

"He's in a great frame of mind. He knows he did great here, but he also knows that it's not in his best interest to now be held back."

Hughes joined Anthony Claggett, and Steven Jackson, who were sent to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Humberto Sanchez was shipped to Double-A Trenton, while Sergio Mitre and Jason Johnson were also shipped to the Yankees' minor league camp.

"Because his pitch count continues to climb, there's no innings to provide here," Cashman said of Hughes.


The Minnesota Twins are standing behind the left-handed Jose Mijares despite a shaky spring in which he's recorded a 11.37 ERA.

"What we need to do is get him straightened out, right here," manager Ron Gardenhire said, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I can always throw problems to somebody else, and not try to do it ourselves right here before we break camp.

"But he's a pretty good arm, and if we can figure this out, we'll be a better baseball team."

Gardenhire had been critical of Mijares, hinting of a connection to his performance and a lack of conditioning.

The rookie continued to struggle Friday, going to a 3-0 count on three Yankees hitters and allowing a home run to Todd Linden and singles to Doug Bernier and Juan Miranda.

"We're going to keep trying to get him going in the right direction," Gardenhire said, according to the newspaper. "He did some pretty good things last year, and even though I'm a little bit upset at him, we have to get this kid right. That's our job."


Left fielder Garret Anderson said he felt much improved Friday since pulling a calf muscle while warming up for a spring training game two weeks ago.

"[Trainers] just wanted me to get the muscle fatigued and see how it responded the next day," Anderson said, according to the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I didn't feel anything when I ran at all. I think we waited more than enough time to start running."

Anderson said he expected to return as early as next week.


John Lackey's four-year, $27-million deal expires after this season, and according to the right-hander, the Angels' efforts to re-sign him to a new deal before the season starts continue to poke along -- without much steam.

"They're not trying very hard," Lackey said Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times. "It's kind of on them at this point. I love playing here and I'd like to stay, but I've put myself into a category that they need to get to."

One of the possible problems for the Angels?

Lackey may be using CC Sabathia's seven-year, $161-million contract he received from the New York Yankees this offseason as a measuring stick.

"Except for his time in the National League, look at the numbers," Lackey said, according to the newspaper. "That's how you do it; you throw out comparables."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.