Category archive: Chicago White Sox

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

Outfielder Brian Anderson is going to give pitching a try.

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

SILVA SOLIDIFIES PLACE IN CUBS' ROTATION (6:30 p.m. ET)
Carlos Silva solidified his claim on a spot in the Cubs' rotation with four shutout innings and Xavier Nady had a two-run double Tuesday, leading Chicago to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.

Silva allowed two singles, hit a batter and struck out three in his sharpest outing. Acquired from Seattle for Milton Bradley with two years and $25 million left on his contract, the righty has pitched seven scoreless innings since getting hit hard in his first game.

Nady's RBIs were his first since signing a $3.3 million contract to back up all three outfield positions. He has been limited to DH duties while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm. He doubled again in the eighth.

-- The Associated Press

TURNBOW SUFFERS SHOULDER PAIN, SAYS MARLINS SHOT 'OVER' (5:57 p.m. ET)
Former All-Star closer Derrick Turnbow says his chances of making the Florida Marlins are "over" after he left Tuesday's game with severe shoulder pain.

Turnbow said he was sure he would "be shut down for a while." He exited Florida's 12-3 victory against the Nationals in the eighth inning.

Turnbow walked one batter and hit another before walking off the mound with the team trainer. He will undergo an MRI on Wednesday and said surgery was a possibility.

The hard-throwing right-hander had 39 saves in 2005 for the Brewers and pitched in the 2006 All-Star Game. He hasn't pitched in the majors since 2008.

He threw 10 pitches Tuesday. As he threw a pitch that hit Danny Espinosa, Turnbow buckled on the mound.

-- The Associated Press

YANKEES HIRE FORMER PADRES GM TOWERS AS SCOUT (4:12 p.m. ET)
Former San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers has been hired as a special assignment scout by the New York Yankees.

Towers was fired by the Padres during the final weekend of the 2009 season after 14 years as their GM.

Towers will scout both professional leagues and amateur players, and evaluate the Yankees' minor league system.

-- The Associated Press

MARINERS PROSPECT ACKLEY HEADED TO DOUBLE-A (3:04 p.m. ET)
The Seattle Mariners have sent second overall draft choice Dustin Ackley to Double-A West Tennessee, where the impressive 22-year-old will likely begin his first full professional season.

Last August, the Mariners and Ackley agreed on a five-year major league contract worth $7.5 million. Seattle has since tried the sweet-swinging former first baseman and outfielder at North Carolina at second base.

He had three hits in 19 at-bats (a .158 batting average) with three RBIs and one error in 10 spring games.

The Mariners have said they expect Ackley to reach the major leagues soon, though he was expected to begin this season in the minors.

Seattle also optioned outfielder Ezequiel Carrera to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday.

-- The Associated Press

NATIONALS' DUNN LEAVES GAME WITH BACK SPASM (2:56 p.m. ET)
Washington Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn left Tuesday's split-squad game against the Florida Marlins after two innings because of a spasm in his lower back.

Dunn made an error in the second inning when he bobbled a grounder in the hole by Logan Morrison. Dunn flied out in the bottom half of the inning and left the game.

A team spokesman said the slugger was day-to-day.

-- The Associated Press

DOMBROWSKI TALKS TIGERS TOPICS (1:54 p.m. ET)
Detroit Tigers CEO, president and general manager Dave Dombrowski weighed in on several Tigers topics on Tuesday morning. Among the highlights:

• Dombrowski called pitcher Dontrelle Willis (7 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts this spring) "a pleasant surprise."

Why? "Because he's thrown strikes more consistently. He worked very hard this winter. And his stuff is fine. ... But the best part is, he's throwing the ball over the plate on a consistent basis."

• Dombrowski said rookie center fielder Austin Jackson (.429 average, .515 on-base percentage) "looks like an every-day player on the big league level. He can go get the ball. He's a quality guy. He works very hard. And offensively, if he keeps doing this all year, we'll be in good shape."

• Dombrowski said Magglio Ordonez "is swinging the bat as well as I've ever seen him swing it in the past. He's driving the ball. But he's done that since the very first day he reported. ... I think the ball has a different sound coming off the bat now, like it has in the past."

-- ESPN.com senior baseball writer Jayson Stark

INDIANS OBTAIN PITCHER FROM BREWERS (12:44 p.m. ET)
The Cleveland Indians have acquired right-hander Omar Aguilar from the Milwaukee Brewers.

In return for the 25-year-old, the Brewers are keeping left-hander Chuck Lofgren. Milwaukee selected him in the Rule 5 Draft in December. To send Lofgren to their minor league system, the Brewers had to work out a deal with Cleveland or offer him back to the Indians for half the $50,000 they paid in the draft.

The 24-year-old Lofgren went a combined 9-11 with a 4.15 ERA between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus in the Indians' system in 2009.

Aguilar split 2009 between Class A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville. He went 3-1 with a 4.72 ERA and 14 saves. He will report to the Indians' minor league camp.

-- The Associated Press

WHITE SOX CLOSER JENKS DOWNPLAYS BULLPEN SESSION (9:22 a.m. ET)
Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, coming off a calf muscle injury that shut him down last September, threw a 50-pitch bullpen session on Monday night.

Jenks had been scheduled to throw an inning against the Kansas City Royals. But he says there should be no cause for alarm over the decision to throw in the bullpen instead.

''It's the reason we went out there,'' Jenks told reporters. ''It was necessary to get to the point where we could make sure there was nothing wrong."

''I'm excited about where I am physically and mentally, being able to locate and being down with the ball," Jenks said. ''Where I am now, with a few more sessions like this, the game will become not easy but easier.''

-- ESPN.com news services

ORIOLES CONSIDERING PLAN B AT SECOND (9:09 a.m. ET)
The Baltimore Orioles are facing the possibility that second baseman Brian Roberts might not be ready for Opening Day, due to a herniated disk in his lower back.

Roberts was expected to return to Orioles camp in Sarasota on Monday after undergoing an exam from a back specialist and receiving an epidural injection to help address the discomfort, The (Baltimore) Sun reported. He has yet to play in a spring training game and the team is waiting to see how he responds to treatment.

The team is considering possible trades to fill the position until Roberts returns, though there have not been extensive talks, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said, according to the report.

Manager Dave Trembley says Ty Wigginton, Robert Andino and Justin Turner could fill the void at second base until Roberts returns.

"We need to do what we can with what we have right here in camp," Trembley said, according to The Sun. "If something happens from outside the camp, we'll deal with it then. We still like to believe that Roberts will be our guy, but we're at the point now where we have to start thinking about the possibility and what we can do elsewhere."

-- ESPN.com news services

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

Navarro described the ball as pushing his thumb backward.

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

Players took turns greeting the guys before the meeting began.

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

-- Associated Press

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

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

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

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

-- ESPN.com news services

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

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Berkman is expected to play Wednesday against Cincinnati.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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March, 25, 2009
03/25/09
1:22
PM ET
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HARDEN BACK ON MOUND (11:56 p.m. ET)
Chicago Cubs right-hander Rich Harden pitched four innings in a minor league game Wednesday.

Harden was scratched from his March 20 start because of a stomach ailment, which he attributed to food poisoning. He threw 63 pitches against Sacramento, the Oakland Athletics' Triple-A affiliate.

"I felt pretty good," he said. "I think I'm going to be feeling better five days from now."

Harden is scheduled to start Monday against Kansas City and next Saturday in an exhibition game against the New York Yankees at new Yankee Stadium. He is on track to start the fourth game of the regular season, April 10 at Milwaukee.

Harden has a history of shoulder problems, and the Cubs have been easing him into action this spring. He has pitched in only two Cactus League games, going 0-0 with a 5.79 ERA.

RED SOX GET CHERRY (10:33 p.m. ET)
The Boston Red Sox have signed right-hander Rocky Cherry to a minor league contract.

The 29-year-old Cherry was 0-3 with a save and a 6.35 ERA in 18 relief appearances for the Baltimore Orioles last year. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Norfolk, where he was 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 28 relief appearances.

MARLINS MAKE DEAL (10:31 p.m. ET)
The Florida Marlins traded right-hander Eulogio De La Cruz to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.

The Marlins said they would get a player to be named or cash in the deal, while the Padres' release just mentioned a player to be named.

De La Cruz was acquired by the Marlins in an eight-player trade with the Detroit Tigers in December 2007. He made his major league debut last season and had no record with an ERA of 18.00 in six games.

The Marlins also optioned right-hander Tim Wood to Double-A Jacksonville and reassigned infielder Chris Coghlan to their minor league camp.

HUNTER BANGED UP (9:41 p.m. ET)
A stiff wind blowing out to center field made things difficult for the pitchers Wednesday. Torii Hunter had it worse, though

The Angels center fielder had a ball deflect off his nose in the first inning, turning a drive by Jeff Baker into a two-run inside-the-park homer, but Los Angeles beat the Colorado Rockies 18-11.

Hunter tried to make a leaping catch at the wall but the ball hit the padding and struck him in the face. He had to leave the game. X-rays were negative.

Jered Weaver was hit hard again, giving up seven hits, six runs -- five earned -- and three homers in 4 1/3 innings.

Jason Marquis allowed 10 hits, 12 runs -- 11 earned -- with four walks over 3 1/3.

COLON LOOKS GOOD (9:16 p.m. ET)
Bartolo Colon took a big step toward making the Chicago White Sox's starting rotation Wednesday, pitching two-hit ball into the fifth inning of a 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics.

Colon, coming back from offseason elbow surgery, struck out four in 4 1/3 innings and did not walk a batter. He threw 33 of 43 pitches for strikes.

Also for the White Sox, Jose Contreras gave up four runs -- three earned -- in four innings, while striking out three and walking one. Contreras is coming back from a ruptured Achilles tendon. He originally wasn't expected back until midseason.

ORIOLES TRIM DOWN (9:15 p.m. ET)
John Parrish and Brad Hennessey, minor league invitees who were competing for spots in the starting rotation before getting hurt, were among eight cuts made by the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.

Parrish will return to Baltimore this week to undergo diagnostic arthroscopic left shoulder surgery to determine the cause of soreness. Hennessey injured his right elbow in the Orioles' Grapefruit League opener and hasn't appeared in an exhibition game since.

Both were reassigned to the team's minor league camp in Sarasota along with infielders Donnie Murphy and Justin Turner, and outfielder Justin Christian.

PAVANO BOUNCES BACK (8:20 p.m. ET)
Carl Pavano rebounded from a rough outing with six strong innings Wednesday, and the Cleveland Indians beat the San Diego Padres 8-4.

Pavano, who appeared in only 26 games in four seasons for the Yankees after signing a $39.95 million contract in 2005, has had his share of struggles this spring. He entered the game with a 9.82 ERA, but threw 53 of 77 pitches for strikes Wednesday and was the first Indians pitcher to go six innings this spring. He gave up six runs over four innings in his last start.

ASTROS RELEASE GRAVES (7:41 p.m. ET)
Right-hander Danny Graves has been granted his release by the Houston Astros.

The club announced the move Wednesday.

The move makes Graves, an 11-year-veteran, a free agent.

He began spring training with the major league club, posting a 6.43 ERA in seven relief appearances. He was reassigned to minor league camp on Sunday and was given permission to talk to other teams.

Graves has a career record of 43-44 with 182 saves and a 4.05 ERA in 518 games with Cleveland, Cincinnati and the New York Mets.

CARDS SEE REYES; ASTROS' ORTIZ ON (6:55 p.m. ET)
Dennys Reyes made his debut in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform Wednesday, pitching a scoreless inning of relief in a 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros.

Reyes, who is with his 10th club after signing a two-year deal with the Cardinals earlier this month, showed little signs of rust after having not thrown since making three appearances for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. Mexico was eliminated in the second round March 16.

On Wednesday, he entered the game in the top of the eighth with the score tied at 3 and faced four batters, surrendering only a double to Hunter Pence.

Houston's starter Russ Ortiz is competing for the fifth spot in the starting rotation and had a two-hit shutout going into the fourth inning before giving up back-to-back, two-out doubles to Ryan Ludwick and Khalil Greene.

Ortiz left after the fifth inning, having allowed one run on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. His delivery and routine on the mound were hampered because of a stomach illness.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa left before the game started to fly to Richmond, Va., for the visitation for his mother-in-law, Mozelle Coker, who died Monday. He also will miss Thursday's game against the New York Mets.

PEREZ WILD; ROBERTSON HURT (5:55 p.m. ET)
Oliver Perez's outing Wednesday alarmed his manager, not because he gave up six runs but because he walked six in 3 2/3 innings of the New York Mets' 10-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday.

Tigers starter Nate Robertson left the game with a sprained thumb on his pitching hand. Robertson, competing for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, was hit by a throw while trying to cover first base in the bottom of the first inning.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel said he will watch Perez, who gave up five hits, carefully in his next couple of outings.

"I think when you don't have command and you don't have that extra velocity, you're going to struggle and that's what happened today," Manuel said. "[Perez] had neither. We have some things to work out."

Tigers shortstop Adam Everett also left the game in the top of the first after spraining his ankle sliding into second base.

Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez and set-up man J.J. Putz saw their first game action since returning from the World Baseball Classic. Each tossed a scoreless inning in a minor league game Wednesday.

PETTITTE THROWS IN MINOR LEAGUE GAME (5:10 p.m. ET)
Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte threw 83 pitches over 5 1/3 innings in a minor league game on Wednesday.

Pettitte allowed five runs -- one earned -- and seven hits for Class A Tampa against Philadelphia's Clearwater team. All the runs came in the second, when Tampa committed three errors.

"I felt good with everything," Pettitte said. "Obviously you always wish you could have a little better command sometimes. All in all, it was good. Got through it. Stretched me out."

Pettitte struck out three and walk one. He had an aching left shoulder during the latter part of 2008, but has experienced no problems during spring training.

"It's been great," Pettitte said. "I didn't think it was going to be a concern going into the season. I'm hoping that I worked hard enough that I shouldn't have any problems."

Pettitte went 14-14 with a 4.54 ERA in 33 starts last year.

BREWERS RELEASE NIXON (4:26 p.m. ET)
Veteran outfielder Trot Nixon was released by the Milwaukee Brewers, leaving three players competing for two outfield spots on the Opening Day roster.

Nixon, who will be 35 on April 11, was a non-roster invitee with four hits in 38 spring at-bats.

Brewers manager Ken Macha on Wednesday said the decision was tough because Nixon's career meant so much to him. Macha managed Nixon for four years in Boston's minor league system.

Macha asked general manager Doug Melvin to release Nixon now so he might catch on with another major league team. Nixon has 137 homers and 555 RBIs with a .274 average over 12 seasons, 10 with Boston.

Tony Gwynn Jr., Chris Duffy and Brad Nelson are the finalists for the two backup slots.

CHISOX PULL BACK ON BUERHLE (1:23 p.m. ET)
Left-hander Mark Buehrle will be held out of his scheduled start Thursday against Arizona, but the White Sox were hardly sounding an alarm.

"We're going to take care of Buehrle, meaning we're not going to pile up innings or pile up work," pitching coach Don Cooper told reporters Tuesday. "He'll be in line for the opener."

Rather than start against the D-backs, Buehrle is expected to throw a side session that day, rest for a few days, then make a final spring start next Tuesday. If he's fine in the coaching staff's eyes, he'll get a five-day respite before getting Chicago's Opening Day start at home against Kansas City on April 6.

"Buehrle is fine," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We have a different schedule for him right now. I expect him to be ready for the start of the season. He's going to throw on the side the next couple of days and we'll see, but the one guy we have to worry about the least is him."

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March, 18, 2009
03/18/09
12:35
PM ET
WHITE SOX ON LOOKOUT FOR LEADOFF (9:20 p.m. ET)
The Chicago White Sox are still looking for their leadoff batter.

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Manager Ozzie Guillen said he and his staff spent "hours" discussing the subject before DeWayne Wise went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in that spot for the White Sox in a 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.

"I wish I had the answer right now," Guillen said. "You'll see a lot of teams struggle looking for leadoff guys. Not many people in baseball have the ideal leadoff guy, the igniter, the guy who can make things happen."

Other than Wise, the White Sox are considering Jerry Owens for the top spot in the lineup. Both players are also competing for the starting center field job. Another possibility is second baseman Chris Gets, who went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .364.

Wise, who got off to a great start but has faded a bit lately, said he is trying to be more selective at the plate so he can draw walks. But he says "it's kind of tough to do that," because he's not yet an established player who can afford to pass up good pitches.

"It's tough because I'm not like a Jermaine Dye or a Jim Thome Those guys know they're going to be here," Wise said. "I know I got to go up there and hit. At the same time, I want to be able to get on base and draw walks."

HERNANDEZ TAKING CHARGE (8:52 p.m. ET)
Livan Hernandez strengthened his grip on the No. 5 spot in the New York Mets' rotation with five strong innings in a 7-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Hernandez scattered five hits and allowed just one run, striking out three. The right-hander lowered his ERA to 3.07 in 14 2/3 innings this spring.

"[Hernandez] was pretty good," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "He has a good presence about him on the mound, and in the dugout he brings a different energy. He's put himself in a good position."

Relying primarily on his sinker, Hernandez came nowhere close to his pregame pitch count of 85 before handing a 2-1 lead to Freddy Garcia in the sixth.

Hernandez credited former Dodgers and Giants pitching coach Ron Perranoski with teaching him the sinker while he was with San Francisco in 2003.

Garcia (0-3) struggled again, allowing five runs and seven hits in two innings, raising his spring ERA to 16.71.

"[Garcia's] in a tough spot," Manuel said. "But the good thing is he's healthy and you're happy to see that."

Hernandez's consistency this spring seems to be distancing him from the competition in the race for the final spot in the rotation.

Tim Redding, the only candidate in camp on a major league contract, will start the season on the disabled list, while rookie Jonathan Niese, who is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA, and Garcia have yet to pitch to the level of Hernandez.

DAVIS CRUISES IN RETURN (8:23 p.m. ET)
Arizona's Doug Davis cruised in his return to the mound after missing a start with tightness in his biceps.

He held the Brewers without a hit in 2 1/3 scoreless innings in Arizona's 4-1 loss to Milwaukee. The left-hander struck out two, walked one and hit a batter.

"I felt really good out there, sometimes too good, overthrowing a little bit," Davis said.

Davis said he did not completely test his biceps muscle because "I wasn't real confident in snapping off the curveball as of right now." He said he's sure that his confidence in the arm will improve in the coming starts.

"All in all it was a great day," Davis said.

Arizona manager Bob Melvin said OF Eric Byrnes will make his spring debut Friday in center field against the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe.

Byrnes, recovering from hamstring injuries, played left field and went 1-for-4 with a homer in a minor league game on Tuesday.

GALLARDO GOING STRONG (8:19 p.m. ET)
The loss of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets to free agency might be a little less painful for Milwaukee with the way Yovani Gallardo is pitching this spring.

The 23-year-old right-hander held Arizona hitless through five innings in the Brewers' 4-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.

Arizona managed just one hit the entire game.

Gallardo, who missed virtually all of last season with knee injuries, faced only 16 batters, one more than the minimum. He struck out three and walked three. Two of the base runners were erased, one on a rundown and the other on a double play.

"It felt great. I think all my pitches were working for me," Gallardo said. "I was able to mix and match every pitch and get ahead of the hitters."

Gallardo has held opponents without a run in four of his five starts this spring. His second shutout performance gives him a string of nine consecutive scoreless innings.

GRIFFEY TO START IN LEFT (7:30 p.m. ET)
Ken Griffey Jr. will make his first start of the spring in left field when the Seattle Mariners play the San Diego Padres on Thursday.

Griffey has been relegated to DH for Seattle while recovering from offseason knee surgery. The 39-year-old has said he hopes to play in the outfield regularly once the season begins.

Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu says the plan is to play Griffey three consecutive games, first in left then DH then back in left field.

Griffey did not play in the Mariners' road game against Kansas City on Wednesday and is batting only .143 this spring. He has yet to hit his first home run since re-signing with his first team just before the start of camp and hasn't driven in a run.

HAMMEL MAKING STRIDES (7:02 p.m. ET)
Jason Hammel is making strides toward earning a spot in Tampa Bay's rotation, and injured outfielders B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce are closer to getting back on the field for the Rays.

Hammel settled down after a shaky start to pitch four innings in the Rays' 7-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Upton and Joyce saw limited action in a Class A game.

Hammel, competing with Jeff Niemann and David Price for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, allowed three runs and five hits, including Edwin Encarnacion's second-inning homer, and sacrifice flies to Joey Votto and Ryan Hanigan.

"I liked how he came back the last two innings," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He went from 50 pitches for the first two to 19 over the last two innings. I liked the way he settled in and pitched well after that."

Upton, recovering from offseason surgery on his left (nonthrowing) shoulder, played three innings on defense but did not bat.

Maddon said the 24-year-old center fielder, who hit seven homers to tie an AL record for one postseason, will bat and play in the field during another minor league game Thursday.

There's no timetable for him to play in a major league exhibition.

Joyce, sidelined most of spring training by right leg tendinitis, went 1-for-2 with a walk and played three innings in the field.

"It felt really good," said Joyce, obtained this winter in a trade that sent right-hander Edwin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers.

"Just getting your legs back into it. That's the biggest thing, running on and off the field," Joyce said. "You'll be surprised at how quick it fades. How your body has to adjust. [Upton] said the same thing."

RAMIREZ RESTS; PROCTOR OUT (6:37 p.m. ET)
All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez was scratched from the Florida Marlins' lineup for a second straight game because of discomfort in his right shoulder.

Ramirez hasn't played since Saturday, when he served as the designated hitter. The Marlins were hoping that he'd be ready after skipping Monday's game and the team's off day Tuesday.

Ramirez told manager Fredi Gonzalez he couldn't play about 10 minutes before the team bus left the Marlins' complex in Jupiter for the drive to Viera to play the Nationals.

Also, the Marlins are preparing to start the season without right-hander Scott Proctor, who hasn't pitched since Feb. 27 because of discomfort from scar tissue in his right elbow.

BARD'S SECOND STINT WITH RED SOX OVER (5:55 p.m. ET)
The Boston Red Sox have released Josh Bard, 2 months after signing the backup catcher.

Bard will receive $262,295 in termination pay rather than a $1.6 million salary this year. After Wednesday, players with nonguaranteed contracts put on waivers receive 45 days' termination pay rather than 30.

General manager Theo Epstein says the move was made as a testament to the performance of the team's other young catchers, especially George Kottaras, who spent last season at Triple-A Pawtucket and was a September call-up.

Kottaras would move into the backup role behind Jason Varitek. His, primary responsibility will be to catch knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Bard played seven games with the Red Sox in 2006. He was signed to catch Wakefield's knuckleball, but struggled and was traded to San Diego along with reliever Cla Meredith for catcher Doug Mirabelli.

Bard batted .202 with a homer and 16 RBIs in 178 at-bats for the Padres last season. His career batting average is .265, with 28 home runs and 168 RBIs in 431 games with the Indians, Red Sox and Padres.

He was hitting .429 in six major league appearances during spring training.

EATON TRYING TO MAKE HIS CASE (5:54 p.m. ET)
Adam Eaton's bid to join the Orioles' rotation ended better than it started in St. Louis' 3-2 win over the Baltimore. Eaton issued a four-pitch walk to Skip Schumaker to start the first inning then gave up a single to Chris Duncan.

Schumaker scored on Ty Wigginton's errant throw attempting to double-up Albert Pujols. Pujols scored on Ryan Ludwick's single.

"It took me a little bit to get comfortable again," Eaton said. "After that I settled down and made some good pitches, but luck wasn't on my side and a couple balls found a hole."

Eaton, who was released by Philadelphia earlier this spring, allowed only one baserunner after the first inning and faced the minimum nine batters in his final three innings.

"I thought he was better," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley, comparing Wednesday's start to Eaton's first outing. "His changeup was better. His fastball for the most part, with the exception of the first hitter, was down."

CARPENTER HAS SOLID OUTING (5:51 p.m. ET)
With catcher Yadier Molina back, Chris Carpenter had his best outing of the spring.

Molina returned from the World Baseball Classic and caught six scoreless innings from Carpenter in the St. Louis Cardinals' 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

"Carp makes it look easy," said Molina, who went 1-for-3. "Anytime you catch a pitcher like Carp, it's easy."

Making his fourth start, Carpenter, who missed most of the last two seasons with arm and shoulder trouble, turned in the Cardinals' longest outing so far. He has thrown 14 scoreless innings this spring.

"As the game went on I started feeling better, which is nice," said Carpenter, who retired the final eight batters he faced. "I was able to get my delivery together and start making quality pitches."

REHABBING BILLINGSLEY GOES FIVE INNINGS (5:48 p.m. ET)
While the rest of his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates took a day off, pitcher Chad Billingsley worked five innings in a minor league intrasquad game.

Billingsley, coming back from a broken left ankle, allowed five hits and three earned runs, including a two-run homer to Austin Gallagher, who batted .293 with 33 doubles and 55 RBIs in 78 games last year with Class A Inland Empire.

Billingsley threw 76 pitches and struck out five, allowing one walk and hitting a batter.

He broke his ankle last winter when he slipped on ice outside his home in Pennsylvania. The fracture required surgery.

When Billingsley pitched Wednesday, Hall of Famer Bob Gibson was among those watching the game. His son Chris is a first baseman who signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last November.

TRIBE'S MILLER FACING SURGERY (5:19 p.m. ET)
Reliever Adam Miller is facing career-threatening reconstructive finger surgery if he is unable to find a new way to pitch effectively.

Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff said Miller, who underwent surgery on his right middle finger last year, will spend the next seven to 10 days throwing to see if he can command his pitches without pain. If Miller can't, he will have a procedure where a tendon will be taken from his wrist to reattach the tendon in his finger.

Soloff said the operation would cost Miller this season and perhaps end his career. Soloff said a buildup of scar tissue could make it impossible to pitch.

The hard-throwing 24-year-old Miller came to training camp with a chance to win a job in Cleveland's bullpen.

BIG UNIT HAS BICEPS SORENESS (4:08 p.m. ET)
Giants left-hander Randy Johnson is scheduled to start against Seattle on Monday after skipping a turn because of soreness in his biceps.

Manager Bruce Bochy says Johnson's arm is healthy. He was held out of his start Wednesday against the Cubs for precautionary reasons. Johnson is scheduled to pitch a bullpen session Saturday.

The 45-year-old Johnson has a 1.08 ERA this spring, his first with the Giants. He has given up a run in 8 1/3 innings and has 12 strikeouts.

ROYALS PLACE GOBBLE ON WAIVERS (3:55 p.m. ET)
Left-handed reliever Jimmy Gobble was placed on waivers by the Royals and is expected to be released Friday.

The 27-year-old pitcher has been in the organization since 1999 and was 22-23 with a 5.23 ERA in 235 career games. He debuted with the major league club in 2003.

Gobble was 0-2 with an 8.81 ERA and one save in 39 relief appearances last season. A stiff lower back forced him onto the disabled list from July to September, but he didn't allow a run in his final eight appearances after he returned.

By placing him on waivers Wednesday, Gobble will get $221,311 in termination pay instead of $1.35 million salary.

The Royals also signed right-hander Anthony Lerew to a minor league contract and invited him to big league camp.

LANNAN GETS OPENING DAY NOD (1:52 p.m. ET)
John Lannan, a rookie in 2008 who started last season in the minors, will be the Nationals' Opening Day starter against the Marlins.

Lannan, 24, went 9-15 with a 3.91 ERA last season. In six innings over two starts this spring, he has not allowed a run.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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March, 17, 2009
03/17/09
9:03
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LEYLAND VOICES WBC CONCERN (8:37 p.m. ET)
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he is following the World Baseball Classic and wants to get his players back as soon as possible.

His entire starting outfield along with starting pitcher Armando Galarraga are playing in the WBC and he said he's disappointed that Carlos Guillen has been playing mostly designated hitter for Venezuela. Guillen is moving from first base to the outfield for the Tigers this season and Leyland hoped that would be Guillen's spot during the WBC.

"I don't want to stick my nose into it but I can't do anything about it," Leyland said.

LACKEY NOT SWEATING CONTRACT TALKS (8:10 p.m. ET)
John Lackey isn't letting his contract situation become a distraction this spring. The Angels' right-hander is keeping his focus on the field.

Lackey, who is set to become a free agent after this season, handled San Diego without much trouble, giving up one run on three hits over five innings in a 12-7 win over the Padres.

"I'm supposed to hear something back this week," Lackey said. "We'll see. I'm not worrying about it too much. I'm just trying to handle my business and get ready."

The Angels' likely Opening Day starter threw just 50 pitches in the game before going to the bullpen to get in some extra work.

More outings like the one he had Tuesday could drive up the asking price for the big right-hander, who has 91 career wins and the third-lowest ERA in the American League since 2005. Lackey was dominant on the mound and added a pair of sacrifice bunts at the plate. Both times the runner he moved over scored.

"Showing my skills for National League teams, too," Lackey joked.

THOME PLAYS IN SIMULATED GAME (7:35 p.m. ET)
Jim Thome, who has experienced tightness in his lower back, played in a simulated game.

"I probably got six or seven at-bats and worked on some things, did our work, and everything was great," he said.

Thome expects to start Wednesday against the Angels.

A'S RELEASE CATCHER BOWEN (4:03 p.m. ET)
The Oakland Athletics released catcher Rob Bowen on Tuesday, likely opening the door for former first-round pick Landon Powell to back up Kurt Suzuki.

"We've got some internal options we feel good about, and it's also early enough in the spring for Rob to find a better opportunity," A's general manager Billy Beane said.

Bowen, 28, hit .176 in 37 games with the A's in 2008. This spring he was hitting .200 in six games. He heard reports last week that he had been placed on waivers, so he was not surprised to get the news that he'd been released.

"You always prepare for anything in this game," he said. "This isn't the first time I've switched teams and it probably won't be the last."

Powell, who will turn 27 on Thursday, was the A's top pick in the 2004 draft. His career has been slowed by knee problems, but he has been healthy this spring. He hit .230 with 15 homers in 88 games at Triple-A Sacramento last year.

ASTROS HAPPY TO ADD PUDGE (3:27 p.m. ET)
Houston Astros players are raving about the pending addition of catcher Ivan Rodriguez as the team closes in on a $1.5 million, one-year contract with the 13-time Gold Glove winner.

"He's a veteran guy that knows how to play the game," Carlos Lee said. "He's one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game."

The Astros needed a veteran catcher to replace Brad Ausmus, who became a free agent and signed with the Dodgers. Last year, the Astros used Ausmus, Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles behind the plate.

"I don't have any feelings about it," said Quintero, who had been the projected starter. "I'm going to keep working hard. I can't do anything about it. I'm happy for him to be here and help the team."

As a child, Astros right fielder Hunter Pence watched Rodriguez play for the Rangers. "He was one of my favorites growing up in Arlington," Pence said. "So I'm very excited about it. I watched a lot of Rangers games and I loved Pudge. He was an incredible catcher."

SANTANA THROWS TO METS MINOR LEAGUERS (3:05 p.m. ET)
Rather than have Johan Santana ride a bus two hours to pitch against division rival Atlanta, the New York Mets had their ace pitch against their minor leaguers for four innings Tuesday in his second outing since knee surgery.

Santana allowed two runs and six hits in four innings, striking out five and walking none. He gave up three doubles and threw 40 of 56 pitches for strikes.

"I felt pretty good, because I was able to throw a lot of strikes," Santana said. "Even though they were swinging to a lot of them, they were aggressive, and that's what you want to see, what kind of approaches they take, and then try to slow the game down."

The two-time Cy Young Award winner had hoped to pitch for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. After being slowed by elbow tightness, he made his first spring training outing last Thursday against Florida, giving up three runs and four hits in 2 2/3 innings.

"I was able to locate all my pitches, and right at the end, we tried to work on the fastball inside, trying to establish that pitch right there, and I was able to do that, so I felt pretty good," Santana said of Tuesday's outing. "That tells you right there the command is there. I'm very pleased with the results."

A NEW START FOR TYLER JOHNSON? (1:34 p.m. ET)
Left-handed reliever Tyler Johnson helped the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title in his rookie season. But last winter he found himself auditioning for scouts in a high school gym and wondering if he could take up golf or music as a new career, since his baseball career appeared to be over at age 27.

"It definitely humbles you a little bit," he said of the experience, according to The Seattle Times. "At one point, I thought I might be done playing baseball."

Now, Johnson, who missed part of 2007 and all of 2008 with shoulder problems, is in the hunt to join the Seattle Mariners as a situational lefty. Injuries to Cesar Jimenez and Ryan Feierabend and the likelihood that Ryan Rowland-Smith will begin the season as a starter have opened the door for Johnson, who threw his third bullpen session on Monday. He's pegged to throw a simulated game later this week before joining the roster for Cactus League appearances, according to the report.

"If I'm healthy, I think I'm going to be there," he said, according to the Times. "I think it's just a matter of my health. I don't really look at that. I've been in eight big league spring trainings. It's not like it's my first, second or even third one. I know what to expect, and I know if I'm healthy, I'm going to be in the big leagues. That I'm pretty sure of."

BARTON AMONG CARDINALS CUTS (1:19 p.m. ET)
Outfielder Brian Barton, a 2008 Rule 5 draft pick who spent all of last season with the St. Louis Cardinals, was among eight players the team cut from the spring training roster on Monday.

Barton and pitchers Mitchell Boggs, Matt Scherer and Charlie Manning were optioned to the team's minor league camp, while pitchers Clayton Mortensen, Jess Todd and Adam Ottavino and first baseman Allen Craig were reassigned to the minors.

Barton hit .268 in 153 trips to the plate last season, but got off to a slow start in spring training. He had just one hit and seven strikeouts in his 16 most recent at-bats.

BYRNES STILL RECOVERING IN MINORS (9:33 a.m.)
Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes is still playing in minor league games as he recovers from a torn hamstring and won't play with the D-backs until Friday at the earliest, manager Bob Melvin said, according to the Arizona Republic.

"I think the best thing is probably to listen to the trainers at this point," Byrnes said, according to the report.

Byrnes said he was clocked at 4.18 seconds running to first base in a minor league game on Sunday, the newspaper reported.

"It says a lot," he said, according to the report. "Look, I'm not one to get fixated on times. But to know that I consistently ran 4.2s when I was 100 percent healthy a couple of years ago when I stole 50 bases and I'm running 4.18s down there in my first game back shows me that it's there."

BIG UNIT A LITTLE SORE (8:50 a.m.)
A little arm soreness was enough for the San Francisco Giants to have Randy Johnson skip his next scheduled spring training start on Wednesday.

Manager Bruce Bochy says the Big Unit has "a tiny touch of biceps soreness," but nothing that will require an MRI or a visit with Dr. James Andrews.

"It's nothing that drastic. It's just a little cranky, that's all, normal spring training stuff," Bochy said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "We've got time to get him ready and get his pitch count up. We're not concerned right now. We expect him to be fine."

Johnson last pitched on Friday, going four innings in a minor league game. Tim Lincecum will start in his place on Wednesday against the Cubs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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March, 15, 2009
03/15/09
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MILLER TO HAVE FINGER EXAMINED (10:12 p.m. ET)
Cleveland Indians prospect Adam Miller will have his right middle finger examined by a doctor on Monday and manager Eric Wedge said the right-hander won't break camp with the team.

It's another setback for Miller, whose development has been delayed by one injury after another. Despite an overpowering fastball when healthy, Cleveland's first-round draft pick in 2003 has never pitched in the majors.

"We're going to get a good look at him Monday and Tuesday just to find out if and how serious it is," Wedge said. "It is kind of a funky thing. We are not sure what it is right now. It is disappointing to everybody, especially Adam."

Miller was supposed to play catch Sunday, but rested instead.

"There's no pain, no swelling, but I can't bend the tip of the finger and it just doesn't feel normal," said Miller, who came to spring training seeking a spot in the bullpen.

Miller had missed 10 days of throwing with soreness in the finger before playing catch from 75 feet on Friday.

"Everything was OK then, until I felt just a little something on my last toss," he said. "So I'm going to see a physician in Scottsdale and then my surgeon from Baltimore will be here Tuesday."

Dr. Tom Graham operated on Miller's finger on May 27 and was scheduled to come out to Indians camp anyway.

"I had no problems during my throwing program in the fall and pitching winter ball," Miller said. "It feels like the same thing I had in 2007, but not to the same extent."

BEDARD READY TO START AGAIN (9:27 p.m. ET)
Seattle left-hander Erik Bedard will start Monday's split-squad game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and is expected to pitch one inning.

Bedard missed his last start and postponed two bullpen sessions because of sore buttocks. But he threw 30 pitches during a bullpen session Saturday and was cleared to resume pitching in games.

"I think Bedard's fine," manager Don Wakamatsu said Sunday. "If everything goes well and there's no other setbacks, I think he'll be fine."

Brandon Morrow, another ailing Seattle pitcher, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Monday. The right-hander has been out with forearm stiffness.

If all goes well, Seattle will increase Morrow's workload before getting him back into a game. The Mariners are counting on the 24-year-old to be a member of their rotation, but so far he has appeared in only one Cactus League game this spring, on March 1.

"If we can stretch him out a little bit and there's no problems with his forearm, we'll see how fast we can take him along," Wakamatsu said.

CONTRERAS SOLID IN DEBUT (8:13 p.m. ET)
It's been a busy week for Jose Contreras.

The Chicago White Sox right-hander left Arizona for Florida where he was formally sworn in as a United States citizen on Wednesday then returned to the desert to pitch two shutout innings against Seattle in his Cactus League debut.

White Sox beat the Mariners 15-5 on Sunday.

It's the first time Contreras has pitched in a game since rupturing his Achilles tendon last August.

"I feel good and strong," Contreras said, speaking without an interpreter. "It wasn't a surprise for me. I've been working hard for the last seven months, you know? I feel good."

Contreras struck out Seattle leadoff hitter Chris Woodward and got Ken Griffey Jr. looking. After giving up a leadoff single to Adrian Beltre in the second, Contreras fanned Russell Branyan and Mike Morse before getting Prentice Redman to ground out to end the inning.

"He should be fresh," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said of Contreras. "He was throwing 93, 94, caught a couple corners. His arm is in as great shape as it can be."

The White Sox have kept Contreras on a controlled schedule this spring in hopes of avoiding a setback. He threw 50 pitches in batting practice on Thursday then started against Seattle.

Asked if he would be ready by April 10 when his spot in the rotation comes up, Contreras smiled.

"I'm ready," he said. "I'm ready right now."

SANCHEZ GETS SHOT WITH PADRES (4:18 p.m. ET)
Duaner Sanchez, released by the Mets earlier this week, agreed to a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres.

The right-hander will get a chance to make the team's bullpen out of spring training and could fill a specialty setup spot in front of closer Heath Bell.

Sanchez separated a shoulder in a taxi accident on July 30, 2006, and had season-ending surgery. He missed the 2007 season following a hairline fracture in the front of his shoulder during spring training and returned to the majors last April 15.

PAGAN REMAINS POSITIVE (4:07 p.m. ET)
New York Mets outfielder Angel Pagan is planning to return to the field quickly after another disappointing injury.

Pagan had arthroscopic surgery Wednesday to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. The Mets estimate Pagan will be out for six to eight weeks but he feels he is on a faster track than that.

"I have pretty good motion in it right now," said Pagan, turning his bandaged arm inward and outward in the clubhouse Sunday morning.

Pagan had an MRI in New York last Monday, met with team doctors Tuesday in Port St. Lucie, then returned to New York for the operation. He hit .467 with two RBIs in five exhibition games.

The injury stalled the progress of the outfielder, who Mets manager Jerry Manuel said needed at-bats to showcase himself this spring.

DECISION TIME FOR MAROTH (4:06 p.m. ET)
Left-hander Mike Maroth has a decision to make after the Blue Jays designated him to their minor league camp Sunday.

Maroth, 31, is trying to return from a left shoulder injury and was hoping to snag one of the vacancies in Toronto's starting rotation.

He either can accept the minor league assignment or request his release so he can attempt to hook up with another team. He said he will talk to his agent before making a decision on his future.

"You're always in the mix until you get sent down or shipped out," Maroth said, according to MLB.com. "You don't think otherwise, but obviously you have to perform. This game is about performance. It's not about what you've done in your past or anything like that.

"You have to get outs, and obviously, I'm a much better pitcher than what I've shown in spring so far. I think that just comes with getting that repetition and getting back on the mound and getting some innings at this point."

ZUMAYA DOUBTFUL FOR OPENER (4:00 p.m. ET)
As Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya undergoes treatment for a muscle cramp, the likelihood of him being available for Opening Day is diminishing.

"I doubt very much whether he's going to be ready for Opening Day unless something happens in a hurry," manager Jim Leyland said, according to MLB.com. "That's just the way it is."

Zumaya hasn't pitched in a game since March 2. The Tigers' medical staff has him on a medication pack that it hopes will resolve the cramp that Zumaya is experiencing between his neck and right shoulder.

Leyland said Zumaya's history of injuries make it unlikely the hard-throwing Zumaya will be ready in time to start the season.

"I only say that because he really hasn't pitched for two years," Leyland said, according to MLB.com. "If he had been pitching the last two years and then had a little setback like this, he might be able to get himself ready. But when a guy hasn't pitched for that long, let me put it this way: It's in the gray area now, unless something happens."

BRAVES RELEASE STOCKMAN (2:25 p.m. ET)
The Atlanta Braves have released right-handed reliever Phil Stockman.

The 6-foot-8 Aussie put up some impressive numbers during his tenure with the Braves, but wildness and persistent injuries plagued his development. Atlanta placed the 29-year-old Stockman on unconditional release waivers Sunday after he pitched only one inning in spring training.

Stockman got in 10 games for the Braves over the last three years. He had an ERA of 0.79 in 11 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and eight walks while striking out 13.

Last year at Triple-A Richmond, Stockman pitched in 19 games. He went 1-1 with two saves and a 2.10 ERA in 30 innings.

INDIANS CUT THREE PITCHERS (11:33 a.m. ET)
The Cleveland Indians have cut veteran right-hander Tomo Ohka and two other pitchers.

Ohka was in camp as a non-roster invitee. He and left-hander Ryan Edell were sent to Cleveland's minor league training camp on Sunday. Left-hander Rich Rundles was optioned to Triple-A Columbus.

The Indians now have 59 players in camp.

Ohka, who will turn 33 on Wednesday, made three spring training appearances. He allowed 14 hits and 10 runs, six of them earned, in 3 2/3 innings.

He was signed to a minor league deal in December after spending 2008 at Triple-A Charlotte in the Chicago White Sox' system, going 5-11 with a 4.18 ERA.

UTLEY PLAYS FOUR INNINGS (11:23 a.m. ET)
Phillies All-Star second baseman Chase Utley, who is recovering from offseason hip surgery, played in a minor league intrasquad game at Philadelphia's training complex Saturday.

He went 2-for-4 and struck out twice.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he couldn't predict when Utley would play in a major league game until he sees how he feels after playing on Saturday.

"It's great to have him back on the field," Amaro said. He knows Utley wants to get back quickly, but also doesn't want to rush back and cause more problems.

"Chase is smart enough to understand that this is something he has to be careful with," Amaro said.

TEJADA WILLING TO SWITCH POSITIONS (11:17 a.m. ET)
In the past, Miguel Tejada has been hesistant to play any position but shortstop. But after playing third base for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, his stance has changed.

"Wherever they want me, I'll be there 100 percent," Tejada said, according to the Houston Chronicle. "If they want me to move to third, I'll do it. I just want to be here. I'm a free agent after this year, and the No. 1 thing for me is that I want to be here."

However, manager Cecil Cooper says he hasn't thought about switching Tejada to third base. The team's plan currently is to platoon Aaron Boone and Geoff Blum at the position.

"[Tejada is] my shortstop," Cooper said, according to the Chronicle. "Who am I going put at shortstop if I don't put him there? Who's my shortstop if he doesn't play? You can't even find one any better. He's one of the tops in the game. "

ORIOLES SHUT DOWN RIGHTY JOHNSON (10:54 a.m. ET)
The Orioles have shut down right-hander Jim Johnson for at least a week while they try to determine the cause of discomfort in his right shoulder.

Johnson noticed it during the last couple of pitches of his last outing on Wednesday, and again when he was lifting weights after that game. He says the pain is identical to the impingement syndrome in his right shoulder that put him on the disabled list for the final five weeks of last season.

He will be limited to conditioning work for the next week or so, but believes he can be ready for opening day April 6.

Johnson was one of Baltimore's most reliable bullpen arms last season, going 2-4 with a 2.23 ERA in 54 games without allowing a home run as the team's primary setup man.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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March, 7, 2009
03/07/09
10:48
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ZAMBRANO WANTS OPENING DAY START (9:23 p.m. ET)
Carlos Zambrano wants to start on opening day for the Chicago Cubs, and he's not shy about it.

"I care," Zambrano said Saturday during a 2-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. "When you're retired and you go home and your grandkids ask you what you did, for your own records it's good."

Cubs manager Lou Piniella said earlier in the day that the April 6 assignment against Houston will go to Zambrano or Ryan Dempster.

Zambrano was 14-6 with a 3.91 ERA last year, while Dempster finished 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA. Piniella said he would talk to both pitchers before making his decision.

-- Associated Press

STRAIN FORCES PELFREY TO MISS START (9:11 p.m. ET)
New York Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey will be out indefinitely with a muscle strain in his lower left leg.

He was examined by team doctors Saturday after feeling discomfort following a bullpen session Friday and was instructed to rest, which means he will miss his next scheduled start Monday.

Meanwhile, starter Dillon Gee threw two innings in the Mets' 7-5 loss to the Washington Nationals Saturday without allowing a hit or run. Only a walk spoiled his otherwise perfect outing, which included two strikeouts. Gee was reassigned to the team's minor league camp on Friday.

Manager Jerry Manuel expects 2B Luis Castillo to return to the lineup Sunday. He was pulled in the fifth inning of Friday's 5-4 win over the Cardinals with a tight left hamstring.

-- Associated Press

WANG BACK IN FORM AGAINST BRAVES (6:16 p.m. ET)
Chien-Ming Wang passed another test, and it had nothing to do with his pitching arm.

Wang allowed one run and three hits over three innings in the New York Yankees' 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

The right-hander missed the final 3 months of last season because of a right foot injury that occurred while he was running the bases during an interleague game against Houston on June 15.

-- Associated Press

CONTRERAS, COLON PROGRESSING IN WHITE SOX CAMP (3:20 p.m. ET)
Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon are scheduled to throw batting practice at Chicago White Sox camp Monday, the next step after each threw 55 pitches in a bullpen session Saturday without any problem.

"It was a very positive day," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "We're more and more excited about their chances to be ready to open the season."

It was the third bullpen session since Monday for Contreras and Colon. Without setbacks, they could see Cactus League action in about a week.

Contreras is more than three months ahead of schedule after rupturing his left Achilles' tendon last August. Colon is coming off offseason surgery to clean up some bone chips in his right elbow.

If Contreras and Colon are ready for Opening Day, that could fill out the White Sox rotation behind Mark Buehrle, John Danks and Gavin Floyd.

-- Associated Press

ZUMAYA'S SHOULDER SORENESS SAID NORMAL FOR SPRING (1:35 p.m. ET)
Detroit Tigers right-handed reliever Joel Zumaya will not throw for at least the next couple of days, following an exam of his right shoulder by Dr. James Andrews on Friday.

Tigers head trainer Kevin Rand said Andrews diagnosed Zumaya's rotator cuff with "normal spring-training soreness." And Tigers manager Jim Leyland expects Zumaya will be ready for Opening Day on April 6.

That's good news for the Tigers, considering how much trouble Zumaya has had with his shoulder. He underwent reconstructive surgery on the shoulder's AC joint in 2007, missed much of 2008 and was diagnosed with a stress fracture last fall.

"We wanted to make sure there was nothing more going on," Rand said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "To be honest, we wanted to reassure him that everything was OK.

"One thing with Joel: You've got to understand that he's gone through an awful lot. He's thinking, 'Hey, I want to make sure nothing more's going on,' " Rand said, according to the report. "And you know what? I don't have a problem with it. I want to make sure for him, too. So, that's what we went to do."

A YEAR TO REMEMBER (1:24 p.m. ET)
The Los Angeles Angels are correcting their media guide after Vladimir Guerrero let slip that he's actually 34 years old, not 33.

The missing year was uncovered by Yahoo! Sports columnst Tim Brown, who was working on a story about Guerrero. He had asked the outfielder to respond to a quote from Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who said the surgery Guerrero had last fall to clean out and repair his right knee could "point to a guy maybe turning back the clock a couple of years."

When that was posed to Guerrero through an interpreter, he responded, "I feel good. I can't say [like] 25, because, you know, I'm 34. But I feel a lot better. That's where I'm at right now."

The Angels had listed Guerrero's birth date as Feb. 9, 1976. But Guerrero admitted to a team executive later in the day that he was born on the same date in 1975, making him 34, according to the Los Angeles Times.

'THE TEAM TO BEAT,' PART THREE
Perhaps Jimmy Rollins should have copyrighted the phrase, "We're the team to beat."

Because two years after the Philadelphia Phillies shortstop uttered those words, his confident prediction has skipped leagues and time zones, to the AL West. This time, it's the Los Angeles Angels' Torii Hunter making confident predictions.

"I still think we're the team to beat. I know we are," Hunter said before Friday's Angels-Giants game, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

But what about the Oakland Athletics loading up their lineup with Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra?

"Good pitching will beat good hitting any day. Don't forget that," Hunter said, according to the report, noting an Angels' rotation featuring John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders and a bullpen that added former Colorado Rockies closer Brian Fuentes.

Will the A's respond? Stay tuned ...

BRAVES' ANDERSON SIDELINED BY PULLED CALF (10:45 a.m. ET)
Baseball injuries can come out of nowhere. But even that doesn't explain what happened to new Atlanta Braves outfielder Garret Anderson on Friday.

Anderson, who signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Braves, was scratched from Friday's game against the Houston Astros after pulling his right calf muscle -- while running in warmups.

"I've never done anything like this before, so I don't have any history with it," Anderson said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Just have to see how it responds to treatment in the next few days before you can have a guess-timate, but it's tissue that needs to heal, and there's no set time on that."

According to the report, it will be several days before Anderson knows how long he'll be out of the lineup.

"I've been working out fine," Anderson added, according to the report. "And then something out-of-the-ordinary freak happens."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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February, 17, 2009
02/17/09
9:28
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LOWRY MISSES THROWING SESSION (9:19 p.m. ET)
Giants left-hander Noah Lowry missed his second straight mound session of spring training Tuesday after developing tightness in his shoulder during pre-camp throwing sessions.

Lowry, attempting to win a spot in the Giants rotation after missing the entire 2008 season, instead threw off flat ground at the Giants' complex.

"You take a year off, you are bound to have a little tightness," said Lowry, who has not pitched since August 2007.

Lowry had surgery for a rare neuromuscular problem in his left forearm, called exertional compartment syndrome, on March 7, 2008, and then had an arthroscopic procedure to remove a bone spur from his left elbow in September, as he was preparing to pitch in the Arizona Rookie League.

Lowry said he pitched off a mound only twice between his two operations last year.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Lowry is scheduled to throw off a mound Thursday.

JONES SEEKS FRESH START WITH RANGERS (8:26 p.m. ET)
Andruw Jones is anxious to make everyone forget 2008, when he showed up out of shape for the first year of a two-year, $36.2 million deal with the Dodgers, hit just .158 and was eventually sidelined for the season by knee problems.

The Dodgers released him in January even though they still owed him $21 million, and the Rangers signed him to an incentive-laden minor league contract. Now Texas has the same hope Los Angeles did a year ago: that Jones can regain the form that made him a five-time All-Star with the Braves and a player with 371 career home runs in 12-plus seasons.

"After a year like I had last year, it was a really bad year," Jones said Tuesday. "Things didn't go the [right] way with the injury and not being in good [shape]. It was a tough situation, and I think I learned a lot from that and that's why I'm where I'm at right now."

The 31-year-old Jones signed a $500,000 contract with Texas and can make up to $1 million in incentives. He can also become a free agent if he hasn't made the Rangers' major league roster by March 20.

"You've got a reputation," Jones said. "The reputation that you've got is never going to go away. I play the game every day. That's what I do for a living. You just try to keep yourself on a good reputation. I just have to go out there again and show these guys that I'm still the player I've always been."

SORIANO OK WITH LOSING LEADOFF SPOT (6:19 p.m. ET)
Alfonso Soriano has heard this question so many times since he arrived in Chicago two seasons ago: Could he, would he, should he be moved out of the leadoff spot?

There it was again Tuesday as the Cubs held their first full-squad workout. And Soriano answered in much the same way. He'll do whatever manager Lou Piniella asks.

"It's interesting. Every year it's the same question and I'm still batting leadoff," Soriano said. "I don't know, we'll see."

Piniella said this week that the long spring training -- which includes 39 games -- will give the Cubs plenty of time to experiment with different players and combinations, including moving Soriano down to the middle of the order.

Soriano hit .280 with 29 homers and 75 RBIs last year. He had a .344 on-base percentage and 19 steals in 22 tries.

ASTROS AWAITING LEE (6:12 p.m. ET)
Power-hitting left fielder Carlos Lee was a no-show at Astros camp on Tuesday, the deadline for players to report in time for the first full workout.

Lee said in a statement he simply mixed up the dates. Manager Cecil Cooper said he understands the mishap, but that Lee will face consequences.

"I might give him something. Make him run 'til he gets tired or whatever. We'll figure something out," Cooper said.

Sunday is the mandatory reporting date.

Lee missed the last two months of last season with a broken finger but still hit .314 with 28 home runs and 100 RBIs. He has been cleared for all drills this year.

CARDS' GLAUS STILL RECOVERING (5:11 p.m. ET)
Cardinals third baseman Troy Glaus tried all winter to avoid surgery on his right shoulder and yet the pain would not disappear.

So after rest, rehab, tests and injections, Glaus decided arthroscopic surgery was needed. His shoulder was cleaned out and a slight muscle tear was repaired.

"The fact they didn't have to put anything back together or reattach anything was fantastic," said Glaus, who arrived at spring training Tuesday.

The procedure was done Jan. 21, and Glaus still cannot throw or hit. The Cardinals were told he could return sometime late in April, and manager Tony La Russa is being cautious.

"If he's back by the first of May, we're in great shape," La Russa said.

A'S ATTENTIVE TO A-ROD'S STORY (3:44 p.m. ET)
As Alex Rodriguez took his seat 2,500 miles away, the half-dozen players working out in the weight room at the Oakland A's facility here in Phoenix stopped to watch the Yankees' third baseman address the media.

The only thing heard while Rodriguez spoke was the occasional beep of workout machines and some snickering by players. It was clear they were curious about what he was going to say, but also skeptical about some of Rodriguez's answers.

One player in particular didn't think Rodriguez's answer about being young and naive carried much weight.

"That's the worst excuse ever," he said, then added that he was in his early 20s "and I know not to take that [stuff]."

But Gio Gonzalez had a different take. He worked out with Rodriguez this winter in Miami, and said he still thought highly of the third baseman.

"What we saw today was sad, and it breaks your heart," Gonzalez said. "I still admire him; Alex Rodriguez is still the real deal to me."

-- Amy K. Nelson, ESPN.com

GUTHRIE TO PITCH FOR TEAM USA (2:41 p.m. ET)
Two years ago, Jeremy Guthrie was just looking to stick in the major leagues as a long reliever after being claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.

Next month he will be pitching for Team USA.

By the time the Orioles' staff ace reached his locker Tuesday morning, the right-hander had been named to the final roster for the World Baseball Classic.

Guthrie, who had been included on the provisional roster, will leave the Orioles on March 1 and report to Clearwater, Fla.

"It's a great honor to have been considered and then selected. I'm very excited to wear USA across my chest and to be surrounded by the type of players who will be on our team and the opposing teams," Guthrie said. "I didn't expect it. I was grateful that I was even considered on the provisional roster."

LOWELL SAYS HE'LL BE READY (1:08 p.m. ET)
Mike Lowell is still with the Red Sox and confident he'll be ready by Opening Day following hip surgery.

The team's pursuit of free agent Mark Teixeira very likely would have ended the third baseman's career in Boston. With Teixeira at first base, Kevin Youkilis almost certainly would have moved to third with Lowell likely to be traded.

Lowell says he was hurt that Boston went after Teixeira, especially after Lowell rejected better contract offers to sign a three-year deal after the 2007 season to stay with the Red Sox.

He says it's only normal to feel let down but that his approach to the game and relationship with his teammates won't be affected.

SHEFFIELD KEEPING LOW PROFILE (11:43 a.m. ET)
Gary Sheffield is taking a new approach as he enters his 21st season in the majors: He wants to cut back on controversial remarks.

The Detroit Tigers designated hitter was true to his word Tuesday. He declined comment before the team's first full-squad workout.

A year ago, Sheffield criticized his former agent, Scott Boras. The slugger said he would have more to say when a dispute between them was settled. An arbitrator decided in October that Sheffield owed Boras $550,000 for eliminating a 2004 option that allowed him to become a free agent.

Sheffield is one homer from reaching No. 500.

BELTRE MISSES IBANEZ (9:39 a.m. ET)
Adrian Beltre and the Seattle Mariners aren't exactly on the same page right now.

Seattle is rebuilding all around its Gold Glove third baseman following a 101-loss season. The team trimmed about $20 million off the payroll, choosing not to re-sign RBI and clubhouse leader Raul Ibanez, who signed a $31.5 million, three-year deal with Philadelphia. The Mariners also traded closer J.J. Putz to the New York Mets in the offseason.

"I understand why the front office got frustrated. Last year, you put that much money in your team and you lose that many games, you will probably be disappointed," Beltre said upon arriving Monday, a day earlier than he had to.

"But in my point of view, as a player, I wanted to see Raul here. He was productive every year. He was cheap, I think, for what he was doing. And he's the best guy you can have in a clubhouse, the best veteran you can have around young guys.

"That was a big disappointment for me, because he was the best teammate I've ever had -- by far. ... We were a better team, on paper, last year than this year."

FRANCIS STILL IN LIMBO (9:35 a.m. ET)
Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jeff Francis is going through workouts with the Rockies, but doesn't know when he will be pitching in a game after battling a strained shoulder since last season.

"The best-case scenario is that I am pitching off the mound in the next three or four days. Hopefully I start to build up and by the end of spring I will be able to be in a game," Francis said Monday. "If all goes well I might be back with the team by May."

The Rockies have not given Francis a timetable to decide if surgery is required. He is not slated to be in the rotation when the regular season begins.

Francis was 4-10 with a 5.01 ERA last year with discomfort in his shoulders, but MRI exams have not shown a clear-cut problem. Bullpen sessions the next few days should tell more.

"I have been told MRIs for throwing athletes are not 100 percent conclusive," Francis said. "You never know there might be something not showing up or just inflammation lingering around."

QUENTIN HOPES TO CONTROL TEMPER (9:31 a.m. ET)
Carlos Quentin is open to suggestions on how to control his temper.

A self-inflicted injury, born of frustration, prematurely ended Quentin's brilliant 2008 season with the Chicago White Sox. The outfielder, angry with himself for fouling off a hittable pitch from Cleveland's Cliff Lee on Sept. 1, slammed his right hand into his bat and broke his wrist. He ended up missing the rest of the season.

"Unfortunately, you can't go back and change things. In my experience, it's been important not to focus on things like that ... on past situations," Quentin said. "I've always felt you learn from something, especially if it's something you wish didn't happen ... and you move on."

Quentin said he knows he needs to learn to express himself in a way that doesn't cause an injury.

"I'm still brainstorming. I'll take any ideas. My teammates are giving me ideas, too," he said. "I'll figure something out."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.