Category archive: Milwaukee Brewers

BRADEN ON ANTIBIOTICS AS PRECAUTION (10:13 p.m. ET)

Oakland Athletics left-hander Dallas Braden possibly has a staph infection on his left shin but isn't expected to miss any time.

Braden woke up Friday morning with a lump on his leg and after being checked out by team trainers, was sent to see a doctor, just hours before he was scheduled to pitch against the Cubs. Although no firm diagnosis was made, Braden was given antibiotics as a precaution.

Braden, slated second in Oakland's starting rotation behind ace Ben Sheets, missed the final two months of last season because of nerve damage in his left foot. The condition left him with a tingling sensation in his entire foot -- and no feeling at all in about half of it. Earlier this week, a neurologist told him the numbness never would subside.
-- The Associated Press

STAUFFER WILLING TO HELP PADRES AS NEEDED (10:04 p.m. ET)

After pitching four shutout innings to help a Padres split-squad beat the Reds 3-2, Tim Stauffer thinks he can help San Diego, even if it's out of the bullpen.

Stauffer, a 2003 first-round pick who is out of options, is pushing hard for the final spot in the Padres' rotation but is open to a reliever role. The right-hander allowed two hits and struck out four in his first appearance since last Saturday.

"During the season relievers have to go that long or longer so I guess if that's something that's a possibility I need to get used to it," Stauffer said after a seven-day layoff. "That wouldn't be a hard transition to make."

Stauffer went 4-7 with a 3.58 ERA in 14 starts last season after missing all of 2008 with a shoulder injury. He lowered his spring ERA to 2.57.
-- The Associated Press

JOBA THE RELIEVER JOTS DOWN SAVE (7:57 p.m. ET)

Joba Chamberlain's first relief outing since he was sent back to the bullpen was a bit of an adventure -- he allowed two hits and struck out one during a scoreless ninth inning, earning the save in the New York Yankees' 2-1 victory over Detroit. It was his first game since manager Joe Girardi announced on Thursday that Phil Hughes had won the competition for the team's fifth starter spot, beating out Chamberlain and three other candidates.

"A lot of guys came in and worked hard, and we didn't make anybody's decision easy," Chamberlain said. "That was our goal as guys coming in. I'm excited about being able to get the opportunity to help this team. We'll go from there."

Chamberlain is in the mix for the eighth-inning setup role before closer Mariano Rivera. The right-hander made 31 starts and one relief appearance during the regular season last year, but pitched out of the bullpen during the playoffs.
-- The Associated Press

HOMER A SPRING FIRST FOR FIELDER (7:52 p.m. ET)

Prince Fielder hit his first home run of the spring and Randy Wolf outdueled C.J. Wilson, leading the Milwaukee Brewers to a 3-1 victory over Texas. Wolf allowed only Julio Borbon's two-out single in the third over six shutout innings. He walked one, struck out seven and faced only three batters over the minimum.

Wilson was nearly as untouchable, scattering two hits over his first five innings before tiring and giving up Fielder's two-run, two-out home run just over the left-field fence in the sixth.
-- The Associated Press

PUJOLS SCHEDULED FOR DAY OFF (7:38 p.m. ET)

Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols, who rested Friday, struck out twice in a 3-2 win over Florida. Manager Tony La Russa plans to use the NL MVP on Sunday and Monday before giving him a day off Tuesday.

Brad Penny, projected to be the Cardinals' No. 3 starter, allowed one run and five hits while lowering his spring ERA to 6.10.

Penny had a scary moment in the sixth, when Hanley Ramirez's hard groundout struck him on the inside of his left thigh. He was examined on the mound by trainers and left after retiring the next two batters.

"Hit me in the muscle, good spot again," Penny said. "If it had been a knee, it might have been a problem."
-- The Associated Press

MARLINS' JOHNSON TO THROW; HENSLEY STILL SHINING (7:30 p.m. ET)

Florida Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson, who was scratched from his scheduled start on Friday because of the flu, threw on flat ground Saturday morning.

Florida's ace is scheduled to throw off the mound Sunday. If that goes well, he should make his next start on Wednesday, which would allow him to start the season opener April 5 in New York against the Mets.

Johnson, 26, won 15 games in 33 starts last year and struck out 191 in 209 innings.

Meanwhile, Clay Hensley pitched six innings in a 3-2 loss to St. Louis, yielding three runs, one earned, and three hits. He dropped his spring ERA to 0.55 in 16/3 innings, making a strong case for a rotation spot.

"I thought he did outstanding," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's getting closer to being on the team."
-- The Associated Press

TWINS TO SEND JONES TO MINORS (5:51 p.m. ET)

Jacque Jones has been told that he will not make the Minnesota Twins' Opening Day roster.

Jones hit .344 this spring with two home runs and three doubles. But manager Ron Gardenhire told him Saturday that there wasn't enough room for the veteran outfielder on a loaded Twins roster.

Jones will finish out spring training with the team and travel to Minnesota to play in an exhibition game against the Cardinals. After that, he will report to Triple-A Rochester.

After playing in the independent Atlantic League in 2009, Jones signed a minor league deal with the Twins in February. He spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Twins before leaving in 2006 for the Cubs. He also played for Detroit and Florida in
-- The Associated Press

RANGERS ACQUIRE BLANCO FROM CUBS (5:35 p.m. ET)

The Texas Rangers have acquired second baseman Andres Blanco from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named or cash.

Blanco was unlikely to make Chicago's 25-man roster and he was out of options. In 2009, his 10th professional season and first with the Cubs, Blanco batted .252 with one homer and 12 RBIs in 123 at-bats. He sprained his knee early in spring training and was limited to nine at-bats.

Rangers manager Ron Washington says he still needs a utility infielder to spell Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus.

In 131 career major league games, including 78 during three short stints with the Royals, Blanco batted .252 with one homer and 31 RBIs.
-- The Associated Press

CHAPMAN AMONG 3 VYING FOR REDS' LAST SPOT (5:09 p.m. ET)

The only opening in the Cincinnati Reds' rotation has produced the biggest surprise of camp.

There was a glut of veterans trying to win the fifth starting spot when camp opened. With a week left, it's down to three youngsters who have never thrown a pitch in the majors.

Right-hander Mike Leake and left-handers Travis Wood and Aroldis Chapman are the last three standing. The 23-year-old Wood has the most experience -- five years in the minors. Leake was the Reds' top pick last June. Chapman is a 22-year-old Cuban defector whose sore back has hurt his chances.

The final decision likely will come down to one more head-to-head audition next week and front-office rumination about which one fits best at the moment.

Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey have the other spots.
-- The Associated Press

BEIMEL PASSES PHYSICAL, SIGNS MINOR LEAGUE DEAL (10:33 p.m. ET)

Joe Beimel rejoined the Rockies and set his sights on Opening Day. The club just wants the left-hander to concentrate on getting ready.

Beimel passed his physical Tuesday and signed a minor league contract, adding to Colorado's depth in the bullpen. Whether he can be ready in time for Opening Day is still in question.

"Maybe that turns out to be," general manager Dan O'Dowd said before the Rockies lost 9-6 to the Padres, "but that's not what we're going into this for. We're trying to win a World Series. We're not just trying to get a major league pitcher. We want him to be right to help us -- put him in the best position to help our club and help ourself."

The Rockies are off Wednesday and manager Jim Tracy expects to meet with Beimel on Thursday. Tracy isn't planning on Beimel breaking camp with the Rockies but didn't rule it out.

"I won't sit here and 100 percent tell you that won't happen," Tracy said, "but I don't how feasible that is."

Beimel, who turns 33 on April 19, said he has been throwing daily since December and throwing off a mound every other day, up to 50 to 55 pitches.

-- The Associated Press

RAMIREZ RETURNS TO CUBS (8:57 p.m. ET)

Aramis Ramirez, who had not played since March 13 because of a right triceps injury, returned as the Cubs designated hitter and went 2-for-3 with an RBI in Chicago's 5-5 tie with the Royals. Ramirez is hoping to play third base by Friday.

"Soon as I can," he said. "I don't want to waste any more time. We're only a couple weeks away. As soon as I'm ready to try it the first time, I'm going to be playing third base."

Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Ramirez could have played third if this were a regular-season game.

"Probably," Ramirez said. "Right now, I don't want to take a chance, but I'll be ready. I don't need 30 more at-bats. I need five more and I'll be ready to go."

-- The Associated Press

EDMONDS' COMEBACK CONTINUES WITH FIVE RBIS (8:11 p.m. ET)

Jim Edmonds' comeback took another positive step as the 39-year-old drove in five runs to lead the Brewers to a 10-2 win over the Indians.

Edmonds hit a three-run homer off Jeremy Sowers in a four-run first inning and a two-run single off Jensen Lewis in a five-run second.

Edmonds, a 16-year veteran outfielder with 382 career homers and eight Gold Gloves, is on a minor league contract after sitting out last season.

"A guy who hasn't played for a year needs at-bats and I'm trying to get him some," Milwaukee manager Ken Macha said. "He went the other way off that lefty for the double. That was good to see because he's been pulling [the ball] too much."

Macha said Edmonds is still a good outfielder. The Brewers also have veteran outfielders Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Jody Gerut along with Carlos Gomez, acquired in an offseason trade from Minnesota -- further limiting possible at-bats if Edmonds does make the team.

-- The Associated Press

ANDERSON SHARP AGAINST MINOR LEAGUERS (7:29 p.m. ET)

Left-hander Brett Anderson pitched five simulated innings against minor leaguers Tuesday after a stiff neck forced him to miss his scheduled start a day earlier.

Anderson threw 80 pitches during the hour-long workout, mixing his fastball and curve with an increasingly efficient changeup that impressed A's pitching coach Curt Young.

"From the view I had you can't throw the baseball much better for executing," said Young, who watched Anderson while standing near second base. "It was a great day for him. The one thing he needs to work on, and he knows he needs to work on, is his changeup factor."

Anderson was supposed to start Monday's game against Seattle but was pushed back because of a stiff neck that first began bothering the 22-year-old over the weekend.

Oakland had a day off Tuesday, so Anderson got his work in at the team's minor league camp less than a mile away from the A's spring training facilities. He had seven strikeouts and walked one and allowed three hits.

"I felt good, really good today," Anderson said. "I was trying to feature my changeup a little bit. My last couple of outings I want to incorporate more of my breaking balls like I would throw in a game, so my next outing will be key in that aspect."

-- The Associated Press

CAIN HELPS GIANTS IMPROVE TO 16-6 (7:27 p.m. ET)

Matt Cain pitched into the seventh inning in an impressive start, leading the Giants to a 6-1 victory over the White Sox.

Cain yielded three hits and an unearned run in 6 2/3 innings, helping San Francisco improve to a majors-best 16-6 this spring.

Pablo Sandoval and Bengie Molina each had two doubles and drove in a run for the Giants, who finished with seven doubles.

-- The Associated Press

ROYALS HOPEFUL MECHE'S SHOULDER IS OK (6:31 p.m. ET)

The Royals are hoping Gil Meche's stiff right shoulder won't cause him to miss any starts. Meche was scheduled to throw 75 pitches and go five innings Monday but left early. He came out after 56 pitches and three innings because of stiffness in his shoulder and neck.

Manager Trey Hillman says it's doubtful that Meche will have his normal bullpen session Wednesday. While the Royals' rotation is thin, Hillman says there are no plans to look outside the organization for another starter.

Meche is in the fourth year of a five-year, $55 million contract. He was limited to 23 starts and 129 innings last season because of shoulder and back problems. He started only four games after the All-Star break with an 8.14 ERA.

Meche is slated to be the Royals' No. 2 starter behind 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, but that is in jeopardy to begin the season.

If Meche were healthy, Brian Bannister, Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies would probably fill out the final three rotation slots, but they were a combined 22-34 last season.

Kyle Farnsworth, who has not started since 2000 with the Cubs, and Robinson Tejeda, who made six starts in September after spending most of the year in the bullpen, are rotation candidates.

-- The Associated Press

METS RENAME SPRING TRAINING HOME (5:50 p.m. ET)

The Mets are losing their tradition. Tradition Field, the team's spring training home, was renamed Digital Domain Park.

The ballpark was known as Thomas J. White Stadium when it opened in 1988, named after a local politician, and was renamed Tradition Field in February 2004 under a 10-year agreement with Core Communities. That company operates Tradition, a 16,000-home community in the area.

The new naming-rights deal is with Digital Domain Holdings Corp., the parent of the Digital Domain visual effects studio in Venice, Calif. It includes provisions for programming at New York's Citi Field and its scoreboard on some dates.

Digital Domain is planning to open a studio in Port St. Lucie.

-- The Associated Press

HOWARD, VICTORINO CONNECT IN WIN (5:46 p.m. ET)

Ryan Howard is ready to break camp. The big first baseman hit a pair of solo drives off Matt Garza to help the Phillies beat the Rays 4-3.

"I'm pretty anxious to get up north and get things started," Howard said.

Howard and Shane Victorino connected in the fourth inning to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead. Howard went deep again in the sixth to put Philadelphia ahead 3-2. The All-Star slugger is batting .356 with three homers and eight RBIs in 16 games this spring.

"I put a couple of good swings on the ball today," Howard said. "That's what you work for all spring training, you just take things in stride and try to peak at the right time going into the season."

Jimmy Rollins and Greg Dobbs each had two hits for the Phillies, and Brian Schneider had a game-ending sacrifice fly. Rollins is hitting .313 (15-for-48) in 16 games this spring.

Joe Blanton pitched 5 1/3 innings for the Phillies, yielding two runs and four hits. The right-hander hasn't thrown his slider in a game yet but expects to incorporate it during his last two exhibition starts.

-- The Associated Press

METS' PEREZ STRUGGLES WITH COMMAND (5:04 p.m. ET)

Oliver Perez was pulled after walking consecutive batters in the fifth inning, part of a shaky outing in the Mets' 7-6 victory over the Braves.

Perez allowed three runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings. The erratic left-hander struggled with his command at times, walking four batters.

New York is counting on Perez to bounce back this season after struggling last year.

-- The Associated Press

PAULINO CLOSER TO LOCKING UP ROTATION SPOT? (4:31 p.m. ET)

Felipe Paulino made progress toward locking up the fifth spot in the Astros' starting rotation, pitching five strong innings in an 11-1 win over the Pirates. Paulino gave up one run and seven hits. He struck out six and walked just one.

"That's what I'm looking for," he said. "All spring training, my mechanics have been getting better. All the work I've done is coming together. The ball was coming real smooth out of my hand."

The 26-year-old Paulino and veteran Brian Moehler are vying for the last rotation spot. Astros management would seem to prefer that Paulino, who is younger and has a livelier arm, wins the battle, but his control issues this spring have made them think twice. He came into the game with a 6.00 ERA in three outings, with six walks in six innings.

Paulino has been working on staying closed as he delivers the ball, which helps boost his velocity. He's also been trying to maintain a consistent release point.

"Last year, I just used my slider and fastball in spring training," Paulino said. "This year, it's been different. I've tried to use all my pitches -- my two-seamer, my four-seamer, my curveball, my slider, my changeup. That's made me a better pitcher. All my pitches were working today."

"I'm just trying to do the best I can," he said. "It's not my decision. The Astros have waited for me the last two years, so I know I have to do something better this year."

-- The Associated Press

GARLAND THROWS IN 'PEN, WILL START FOR PADRES (3:35 p.m. ET)

Jon Garland has thrown 30 pitches in a bullpen session and is set to start for the San Diego Padres in an exhibition game Friday.

Garland hasn't pitched in a game since March 16 because of what manager Bud Black calls a cranky shoulder. The Padres gave him four days off before he resumed playing catch over the weekend.

"I threw all the pitches. My last five or six, I cut the fastball, let it loose," Garland said. "Everything feels good. That's just something we'll have to keep an eye on and make sure it doesn't get like that and it'll be good for another 200 innings."

Garland went a combined 11-13 in 33 starts for the Dodgers and Arizona last year. The right-hander is 117-102 lifetime.

Also, outfielder Scott Hairston said his sore left calf was improving and he hoped to be back in the Padres' lineup by Wednesday. He fouled a pitch off his calf on March 11 and has been limited to minor league duty since.

-- The Associated Press

PIRATES CLOSER DOTEL GETS BACK TO WORK (9:51 a.m. ET)

Pirates closer Octavio Dotel, who has missed much of spring training with a strained oblique muscle, threw an inning against a Phillies minor league squad on Monday. He's confident he'll get enough work in the next two weeks and be ready for the start of the season.

"I will be ready for Opening Day," Dotel said, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I don't think I'll have any problems with that. I don't think there will be any setbacks. I'm going to be fine."

Dotel threw 18 pitches, 14 for strikes, and recorded three strikeouts and a fly out (a fourth out was added to the inning so he could reach his pitch count). He's expected to throw again Wednesday against the Red Sox.

"Everything feels good," Dotel said, according to the report. "We've just got to get going with the next step."

-- ESPN.com news services

MANUEL BACKS MURPHY DESPITE HITTING WOES (9:33 a.m. ET)

Although Daniel Murphy has struggled at the plate this spring, he still has New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel's confidence.

Murphy is hitting just .133 in 30 at-bats with less than two weeks left before the start of the season. Still, Manuel remains optimistic the 24-year-old can be an effective first baseman for the team. And he still sees Murphy as the frontrunner in a competition that also includes Mike Jacobs, who is in camp on a minor-league contract.

Murphy, who was charged with 10 errors in 101 games at first base last season, focused on improving his defense during the offseason. He came to spring training early to work with former Mets star Keith Hernandez, an 11-time Gold Glove winner at first.

"[Murphy] has looked extremely well at first base -- very active, very aggressive," Manuel said. "For him now, it's just a matter of him getting back to using the whole field as a hitter and becoming the offensive player we think he should be or can become."

Offensively, Jacobs is off to a slow start as well, hitting just .174 in 23 at-bats.

Despite praising both players, Manuel said he isn't any closer to deciding who will start at first Opening Day.

"We're still a ways away," Manuel said. "Once we get down to maybe the last four or five ballgames, everybody, we feel, is very close to being major league ready, and then we'll probably put a little bit more into the evaluation process at that time."

-- ESPN.com news services

ROCKIES PITCHERS BATTERED AND BRUISED (9:21 p.m. ET)
All morning, Rockies reliever Randy Flores took part in a drill designed to improve the dexterity and reflexes of the pitchers.

Still, the exercise couldn't prepare him for the liner off the bat of Cleveland's Chris Gimenez. Before Flores even had time to flinch, the ball caught him squarely on the left forearm, leaving behind quite a bruise.

Following the Rockies' 6-3 win over the Indians on Wednesday, Flores walked out with his pitching arm wrapped in white gauze.

Just another member of Colorado's battered and bruised bullpen.

The knot on Flores' arm comes on the heels of the news concerning Huston Street, who could miss the season opener after experiencing tightness in his right shoulder during a recent throwing session. Street will find out the results of an MRI in the next day or so.

Should Flores' arm remain tender in the morning, he could be next in line for an MRI.

"When I came in, they did the test that would indicate if they thought it was broke -- if I shrieked or something," Flores said. "I passed. So, it basically feels like a monkey bump times 100. ... Looks like just a bruise."

Street and Flores aren't the only ones banged up in the bullpen. Set-up man Rafael Betancourt has an inflamed pitching shoulder -- although he had an encouraging pitching session Wednesday -- and Jimmy Gobble recently strained his groin.

The health of the bullpen remains a question mark with Opening Day in Milwaukee looming on April 5.

-- The Associated Press

ROYALS-PADRES SLUGFEST INCLUDES 30 RUNS, NO HOMERS (9:15 p.m. ET)
The Padres put together three five-run innings as they outslugged the Kansas City Royals 16-14 on Wednesday. Tony Gwynn and Lance Blanks each drove in three runs for the Padres.

The game included 31 hits, 10 doubles, three triples, 11 walks, a wild pitch, five errors, a passed ball and 12 unearned runs -- and lasted 3 hours and 27 minutes. The Padres led 16-4 entering the seventh, but the Royals scored 10 unanswered runs to make it interesting.

"I don't like the result," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "I was proud the way we came back."

San Diego left-hander Clayton Richard watched San Diego score five runs in the second and five in the fourth. In both innings, the Padres sent 10 men to the plate.

"You wish there was a way for your team to score a lot of runs and do it quick," Richard said. "I've been thinking of that for a long time on how to make that happen. You love to see the offense do well, but it's tough to sit for so long and go back out there. But you'd definitely rather have that than your team not scoring runs."

-- The Associated Press

FORMER ALL-STAR TURNBOW RELEASED (6:28 p.m. ET)
The Marlins released former All-Star closer Derrick Turnbow, who was set to have his troublesome right shoulder examined by a doctor in Miami later Wednesday. Turnbow said Tuesday he knew his chances of making the Marlins were "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 was set to 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.

-- ESPN.com news services

MARQUIS TRYING TO GET FEEL FOR PITCHES (4:57 p.m. ET)
Jason Marquis allowed eight runs on eight hits over 3 1/3 innings in his second start of the spring, and the Houston Astros beat the Washington Nationals 11-2 on Wednesday.

Marquis allowed the first four batters to reach base during a five-run first inning. He gave up eight total hits and struggled with his command, walking four. His ERA rose to 21.94.

"None of my pitches worked," he said. "I just didn't have a feel for anything."

Marquis, who signed a two-year, $15 million deal in December, went 15-13 with a 4.04 ERA with Colorado last season. He logged more than 200 innings for the third time in his career and appeared in his first All-Star Game.

The Nationals hope that either Marquis or John Lannan will anchor their rotation.

Marquis said he plans on throwing two bullpen sessions before his next outing. He is confident he can get himself right by the time the regular season rolls around.

Cristian Guzman started for the Nationals at shortstop for the first time this spring. He's recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and had missed some time earlier this spring after his wife gave birth to their daughter. He went 1-for-4 with a triple, showing off some blazing speed on the basepaths.

-- The Associated Press

HART STRUGGLING WITH CONTROL (4:43 p.m. ET)
Kevin Hart might be walking his way out of the Pittsburgh Pirates' starting rotation.

Hart walked six of the 12 batters he faced, failing to make it out of the second inning in the Pirates' 6-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday.

Hart came into spring training as the favorite to win the No. 5 spot in the rotation, but the right-hander has struggled with his control. He threw 53 pitches, only 19 for strikes, and reached three-ball counts on nine batters -- even hitting Ramon Santiago with a 3-0 pitch.

"My fastball had good life and my sinker had good movement," Hart said. "When I made pitches in the zone, I was able to get guys out. It's the 34 I threw out of the zone that got me into trouble."

In four outings this spring, Hart has pitched 4 2/3 innings and walked 13 of the 30 batters he's faced. His ERA is 15.43.

Hart has one minor league option remaining, so it's possible he could begin the season at Triple-A Indianapolis.

"We're still in the evaluation process," manager John Russell said. "We still like what Kevin can bring, but at some point he's got to get it done."

-- The Associated Press

HANSON 'SHARP' OVER FIVE INNINGS (4:41 p.m. ET)
Tommy Hanson pitched like he was in midseason form Wednesday for the Atlanta Braves.

Hanson allowed one run on six hits in five innings in Atlanta's 4-2 win over the Marlins. It was the longest outing of the spring for Hanson, projected to be Atlanta's No. 3 starter.

"Really sharp. Best he's looked all spring," said manager Bobby Cox.

Hanson gave up a leadoff single in the first inning to Chris Coghlan, who was bunted to second before scoring on Hanley Ramirez's single. But the Marlins didn't do much else against Hanson, who effectively mixed in 10 changeups out of his 76 pitches.

"I think that's the best I've thrown my changeup, ever," said Hanson, who used the pitch to strike out Coghlan swinging in the third inning.

Hanson is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA -- two runs in 9 1/3 innings -- with one walk and 10 strikeouts in three games this spring.

-- The Associated Press

LIDGE TO THROW THURSDAY (3:37 p.m. ET)
The Phillies said Wednesday that closer Brad Lidge will pitch in a game for the first time Thursday. The team is off, but Lidge will start a minor league game at the Carpenter Complex and throw one inning.

Lidge is recovering from offseason elbow and knee surgery. The team hasn't ruled out the possibility that he could be ready Opening Day.

Left-handed reliever J.C. Romero, also recovering from elbow surgery, threw live batting practice for the first time Wednesday but is viewed as unlikely to be ready by Opening Day.

--ESPN.com senior MLB writer Jayson Stark

DIAMONDBACKS AGREE WITH BENSON (2:27 p.m. ET)
The Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to terms with pitcher Kris Benson on a minor league contract Wednesday.

The right-hander has compiled a 69-74 record with a 4.41 ERA in eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers. The Pirates selected him No. 1 overall in the 1996 first-year player draft.

Benson missed the entire 2007 season after having rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder. He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in February 2008 and went 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA in 11 starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Benson was on the Rangers' 2009 opening day roster as a starter. After a short stint on the disabled list, he went to the bullpen and was 1-1 with an 8.46 ERA in eight games.

-- The Associated Press

REPORT: METS, MARLINS TO PLAY IN PUERTO RICO (2:32 p.m. ET)
A three-game series between the New York Mets and Florida Marlins in June has been moved from Miami to Puerto Rico, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The shift to San Juan's Hiram Bithorn Stadium had been discussed for months pending an agreement between Major League Baseball and the players' association. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement was scheduled for Thursday.

Florida will remain the home team, and the games will be played June 28-30.

Hiram Bithorn hosted 22 Montreal Expos home games in each of the 2003 and 2004 seasons before the franchise relocated to Washington. The ballpark also hosted the 2001 season opener between Texas and Toronto, and it was the site of games during the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009.

-- The Associated Press

CAPUANO SHUT DOWN WITH ELBOW FLARE-UP (7:55 a.m. ET)
Brewers starter Chris Capuano, attempting his second career comeback from Tommy John surgery, has been shut down for a few days with elbow inflammation.

The left-hander experienced lingering tightness in his elbow after pitching against the Reds last week.

"Rather than push through it, they just decided to shut it down for a few days and let it calm down," Capuano told reporters. "It's disappointing because I felt so good for the first few weeks of camp."

Capuano, 31, believes the amount of throwing he has done -- every day in spring training and four or five days a week in his offseason program -- finally caught up with him. But he's still aiming at returning to the team as a starter.

"I always knew I had to show the Brewers I could go take the ball every fifth day and throw seven or eight innings and be able to bounce back," he said. "If it gets pushed back a week or two weeks from wherever I start my season, it's not that big of a deal to me in the long run. I just hope it's that [and not more]."

-- ESPN.com news services

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

INDIANS BEING CAUTIOUS WITH WOOD'S MUSCLE SORENESS (6:21 p.m. ET)
Kerry Wood insists everything is fine and there's no reason to worry. The Cleveland Indians aren't taking any chances.

Wood, bothered by soreness in a muscle under his shoulder, did not throw a scheduled bullpen session on Monday so he could get more rest. Cleveland's closer was scratched from a scheduled exhibition appearance on Saturday against Texas because of soreness in the lat muscle in his upper back.

He had been expected to throw on Monday at the club's complex in Goodyear, Ariz., but the Indians decided against it.

The 32-year-old Wood says the injury isn't serious and if it was the regular season, he'd be pitching. But the Indians aren't willing to take the risk and manager Manny Acta hasn't decided when Wood will pitch again. Wood had been penciled in to appear on Wednesday in an exhibition against Cincinnati.

"We'll put together a plan for him," Acta said before the Indians played the Milwaukee Brewers. "It's nothing to worry about, it's just we want to be cautious. He's our closer. He's fine. We've got plenty of days to go before the season starts. There's no need to rush him back out there."

-- The Associated Press

VOLSTAD HURTS SHOT AT MARLINS ROTATION WITH POOR START (6:16 p.m. ET)
Chris Volstad hurt his chances at solidifying a spot in the Florida Marlins' rotation, allowing four runs in 2 1/3 innings in Florida's 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday.

Volstad allowed five hits and four walks. He has given up eight runs on 11 hits and five walks in his last two outings.

"The first few innings were good. After that a couple of pitches were up, the breaking stuff was not quite as good," Volstad said. "I just need to finish it a little more.

"That's what happened last outing. I need to keep remembering to finish everything."

The right-hander was one of six candidates for three spots in the Marlins' rotation behind Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco. One of those spots, though, appears filled by Anibal Sanchez after his four scoreless innings against the Mets on Sunday.

-- The Associated Press

CUBS LATE AFTER BUS BREAKS DOWN ON WAY TO GAME (6:11 p.m. ET)
The Chicago Cubs showed up for their exhibition game against Colorado about an hour later than expected after their bus broke down on the highway because of engine trouble.

The Cubs chose to skip batting practice when they got to Hi Corbett Field in Tucson on Monday. They decided to just stretch instead.

The Cubs were making a two-hour drive south when the bus broke down. Starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano was lucky -- his cousin was following in a car, so they drove with catcher Koyie Hill to the park.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella wasn't with the team on the bus. He was driving separately with pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

-- The Associated Press

NATIONALS RELEASE LHP VILLONE (4:38 p.m. ET)
Left-handed reliever Ron Villone has been released by the Washington Nationals.

The Nationals signed Villone to a minor league contract last month and invited him to spring training. But Villone had a 16.20 ERA in three relief appearances covering 1 2/3 innings.

The Nationals also sent five pitchers to their minor league camp Monday, including righty Collin Balester.

-- The Associated Press

ROYALS STILL LOOKING FOR FIFTH STARTER (3:54 p.m. ET)
Manager Trey Hillman is still looking for a fifth starter for the Kansas City Royals rotation.

Some of his leading candidates have had rocky beginnings in spring training. Right-hander Kyle Davies, who has made 99 big league starts and 54 for the Royals the past 2 1/2 seasons, has a 15.26 earned run average after three starts.

Robinson Tejeda, who moved into the rotation at the end of last season because of injuries, has a 9.95 ERA after three appearances.

Kyle Farnsworth, who has not started since 2000 with the Chicago Cubs, is another rotation candidate.

-- The Associated Press

WHITE, TOP PICK IN '09, AND GRILLI AMONG INDIANS' CUTS (3:28 p.m. ET)
Alex White, the Cleveland Indians' first-round draft pick in 2009, is among four pitchers being sent to the minors in the club's initial roster cuts of spring training.

White and fellow right-handers Zach Putnam and Jason Grilli were reassigned to the minor league camp. Left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz was optioned to Double-A Akron.

Grilli is out for the season. The veteran, signed to a minor league contract in December, tore his right quadriceps during a running drill on March 5 and is scheduled for surgery this week in Vail, Colo., by Dr. John Steadman.

-- The Associated Press

BREWERS HOFFMAN EXPECTS TO DEBUT FRIDAY (3:24 p.m. ET)
Milwaukee Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman says he'll be ready for his exhibition debut on Friday, although the all-times saves leader isn't sure how many games he'll need to get ready for opening day.

The 42-year-old Hoffman faced hitters on Monday for the first time this spring, throwing 35 pitches to six batters. He's been limited to bullpen work so far in an effort to keep him fresh for the season.

"It felt good," Hoffman said. "It felt good to get a hitter in there and the next progression will have the umpire back there and no screen."

Hoffman has been working through some minor stiffness in his upper back and the Brewers don't want a repeat of last season's spring training when he strained his right oblique and missed the first month of the season on the disabled list.

Hoffman saved 37 games and had a 1.83 ERA in his first years with the Brewers last year, and in the offseason he signed an $8 million, one-year contract with a mutual option for 2011.

-- The Associated Press

TWINS' BLACKBURN COULD MISS NEXT START (3:08 p.m. ET)
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said right-hander Nick Blackburn has a sore right knee and could miss his next scheduled spring training start, The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported.

Blackburn, who is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday against the Rays, had problems with the knee while in the minors, according to the report.

-- ESPN.com news services

FOGG, DICKEY AMONG METS SENT TO MINORS (12:41 p.m. ET)
Pitchers Josh Fogg and R.A. Dickey were among players the Mets sent down to minor league camp on Monday.

Fogg was competing to be the team's No. 5 starter, while Dickey was hoping his versatility and durability as a knuckleball pitcher would win him a roster spot.

Also sent down on Monday was catcher Josh Thole, one of six catchers the team brought to spring training. Thole was widely expected to start the season at Triple-A Buffalo, where he can gain experience, particularly on defense.

The other Mets players sent down, according to a New York Daily News report, were: Shawn Bowman, Eric Niesen, Jack Egbert, Travis Blackley, Bobby Livingston, Arturo Lopez, Eddie Kunz, Andy Green, Mike Hessman, Mike Cervenak, Jesus Feliciano, Luis Hernandez, Clint Everts and Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

-- ESPN.com news services

CHAPMAN PITCHES TWO SCORELESS INNINGS (6:20 p.m. ET)

Aroldis Chapman struck out two over two scoreless innings and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 on Friday.

Chapman allowed just two infield singles. His strikeouts came on the last two batters he faced, overpowering Matt Kemp on a high fastball and getting Casey Blake looking.

Chapman defected from Cuba last year and agreed to a $30.25 million, six-year contract with the Reds in January. The left-hander has allowed three hits over four scoreless innings in two spring outings.

-- Associated Press

GIAMBI GETS DEFENSIVE IN DEBUT (6:03 p.m. ET)

Jason Giambi made his spring training debut Friday, flying out to center and taking a pitch off the forearm in the Colorado Rockies' 9-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

Giambi also made a diving stop at first base, a play he might have missed out on had he followed through with his original plan of being a designated hitter with an American League team this spring.

Instead, he opted to sign a one-year deal with Colorado as a fill-in at first for Todd Helton and a pinch hitter.

Todd Wellemeyer pitched four scoreless innings for the Giants, allowing just two hits. Nate Schierholtz and Buster Posey each drove in two runs.

Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa went four innings, giving up one earned run.

-- Associated Press

HARDY, HUDSON GETTING ACQUAINTED (5:37 p.m. ET)

Shortstop J.J. Hardy and second baseman Orlando Hudson, the Minnesota Twins' new double-play combination, are getting acquainted.

The two are being paired during spring training so they can learn each other's tendencies around the middle of the infield. Even though they have yet to turn a double play in four exhibition games, both Hardy and Hudson said they expect their new working arrangement to go smoothly.

Hardy was acquired in a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers, while Hudson signed with the Twins as a free agent. Minnesota is Hudson's fourth major league team.

-- Associated Press

BRAVES' JURRJENS FINALLY MAKES DEBUT (5:26 p.m. ET)

Atlanta Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens managed to make his spring debut, anyway.

Jurrjens threw two scoreless innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday before the game was called after three due to showers that washed away the exhibition slate in Florida.

Jurrjens had been struggling with inflammation around his right shoulder and manager Bobby Cox decided to be cautious. Jurrjens, who turned 24 in January, went 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA for the Braves last season.

Jurrjens was supposed to start Wednesday against the New York Yankees, but the game was called due to rain. He made the 90-mile bus ride to Tampa and said it was tough to get back into his rhythm for a second straight day, but he said his arm felt fine.

-- Associated Press

WEEKS PAINED TO PLAY WITHOUT HARDY (4:25 p.m. ET)

Rickie Weeks is eager to resume his career, but he's not exactly looking forward to Opening Day.

The Brewers second baseman hasn't played since tearing the sheath of a tendon in his left wrist in May. When he takes the field next month, his double-play partner at shortstop, J.J. Hardy, won't be there.

Hardy was traded in the offseason to the Twins for center fielder Carlos Gomez in a move that made way for Alcides Escobar. Weeks says he and the rookie Escobar will make a strong combination, too.

Weeks says he'll hurt a little because he and Hardy were close and that they've talked during spring training.

Brewers manager Ken Macha thinks Weeks looks the same despite injuries that have cost him parts of the last four years.

-- Associated Press

PETTITTE TOSSING STRIKES (3:06 p.m. ET)

Andy Pettitte peered over his raised black glove for a sign from the catcher, shook him off, nodded "OK," then froze Jimmy Rollins with a changeup for strike three.

Vintage Pettitte.

Too bad the sequence took place in a batting cage under the stands at Steinbrenner Field -- and Philadelphia's Rollins was nowhere to be found.

Torrential rains forced the New York Yankees' bus to turn around about an hour into the trip to Viera on Friday, and Pettitte's first scheduled start of spring training was turned into another simulated outing.

"I got my normal warm-up in, and then I got all my throws in and I'm tired," Pettitte said. "That's the biggest thing, I wanted to make sure I was good and fatigued. Obviously, I would've loved to face hitters but the way the weather's been I had to get my work in here today."

After a two-inning simulated outing on a back field Sunday, Pettitte went three innings Friday and threw 50 pitches, mixing in several breaking balls.

-- Associated Press

TIGERS' PITCHING WEATHERS RAIN (2:58 p.m. ET)

Tigers manager Jim Leyland might complain about the weather if he thought it would do any good.

"It's not OK, but it's OK," Leyland said after Friday's exhibition game against the Philadelphia Phillies was rained out. "You can't do anything about it so you just do the best you can.

"Obviously we've got a lot of work to do. I think the next 10 days or so are going to be critical for us in the pitching area. It's actually OK for some guys to get a little blow, but other guys it's not."

Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson, candidates for open spots in Detroit's pitching rotation, had been scheduled to pitch Friday. They will pitch instead in Saturday's split-squad game against the New York Yankees.

"The plan is to have Bonderman, Robertson and [Dontrelle] Willis, not necessarily in that order, pitch three innings apiece here, and [Max] Scherzer will pitch in the road," Leyland said. "So we'll have all four of those guys pitching and that's good." Scherzer and Ryan Perry will be among the pitchers traveling to Port St. Lucie to face the New York Mets.

-- Associated Press

RED SOX, CARDINALS JUGGLE ROTATION (2:55 p.m. ET)

The St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox will adjust their pitching plans after rain forced the postponement of Friday's spring training game.

Boston and St. Louis will split their squads on March 22, adding a game in Jupiter and "B" games on Saturday against their minor leaguers.

Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz, scheduled to start Friday, will start Saturday's "A" game against the Pirates in Fort Myers. Michael Bowden follows Buchholz.

Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols is expected to return to the lineup Saturday after missing about a week to nurse an ailing lower back, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Cardinals right-hander Rich Hill, scheduled to start Friday, will start the "B" game on Saturday and right-hander Chris Carpenter will keep his regular scheduled start at 1:05 p.m. against Houston on the main field.

The Red Sox are playing Tampa Bay in Fort Myers on March 22 and the Cardinals have a game in Kissimmee against the Astros.

-- ESPN.com news services

ORIOLES' JOHNSON HOPES FOR REVIVAL IN EIGHTH (2:43 p.m. ET)

After struggling when given a chance to replace George Sherrill as closer during the second half of last season, Jim Johnson hopes for a revival now that he's back to a set-up role for the Baltimore Orioles.

"When I took over for George last season, I probably tried to overdo it," Johnson said. "That never really leads to success."

Johnson blew three of his 11 save chances in the ninth-inning role after Sherrill was traded to Los Angeles, and Baltimore signed Mike Gonzalez during the offseason to become its closer.

"We all understand what Mike was brought here for," Johnson said, "and that's fine."

A starter in the minor leagues, Johnson was converted to a reliever two years ago. He didn't allow a run in his first 10 appearances and he didn't allow a home run all season.

His finished 2-4 with a 2.23 ERA in 2008 but slumped to 4-6 with a 4.11 ERA last year, when he allowed eight homers and failed to convert six of 16 save chances.

"He will be himself. He will be effective as an eighth-inning guy as opposed to a closer," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "He did try to do a little more than he should have when he was the closer. I think he'll be better suited for the eighth inning."

-- The Associated Press

RAYS STILL SPRING'S WINNINGEST TEAM (2:28 p.m. ET)

The Phillies-Rays spring training game has been canceled because of rain.

Friday's cancellation means Tampa Bay's franchise-record streak of nine straight exhibition wins will remain intact at least another day. The Rays are scheduled to host the Florida Marlins in Port Charlotte on Saturday.

-- The Associated Press

K-ROD'S PITCHING SESSION ON HOLD (12:16 p.m. ET)

The cancellation of the Mets-Twins spring training game has forced New York closer Francisco Rodriguez to postpone pitching to live batters.

Rodriguez said Friday he expects to throw to live hitters Saturday in what should be the final step before pitching in a spring training game.

Rodriguez has yet to pitch to hitters this spring after dealing with a case of conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pinkeye. He plans to wear prescription goggles under doctors' orders, though he said he feels fine.

Rodriguez said he needs to get back on the mound so he can determine what he needs to improve before Opening Day.

-- The Associated Press

MARLINS-ORIOLES RAINED OUT (11:24 a.m. ET)

Rain has forced the cancellation of the Florida-Baltimore exhibition game.

The announcement Friday came two hours before the scheduled start. The game will not be made up.

The Marlins traveled from Jupiter for games Friday in Sarasota and Saturday in Port Charlotte against Tampa Bay. The Orioles were scheduled to start Jeremy Guthrie, and Florida was to start Andrew Miller.

To give pitchers extra work, Baltimore added a split-squad game Sunday at Pittsburgh's minor league complex, Pirate City in Bradenton.

-- The Associated Press

YANKEES-NATIONALS WASHED OUT (10:12 a.m. ET)

Heavy rains washed out Friday's scheduled exhibition game between New York and Washington.

A sellout crowd was expected at Space Coast Stadium for the defending World Series champions' only visit of the spring. The Yankees were already en route from Tampa when informed of the cancellation early Friday. Water had collected in some areas of the outfield before the decision was made to call the game.

It's the second consecutive rainout for the Nationals, who were planning to start right-hander Jason Marquis against Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte.

The Nationals reassigned catcher Devin Ivany and first baseman Josh Whitesell to their minor league camp.

-- The Associated Press

FUTURE IS NOW FOR ROYALS (7:48 p.m. ET)
The Kansas City Royals got a glimpse of their future Saturday and had to like what they saw.

Aaron Crow, a 2009 first-round pick, and Edgar Osuna, a Rule 5 draft pick from the Atlanta Braves, combined to throw three scoreless innings in their debuts as the Royals defeated the Texas Rangers 2-1 on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Crow struck out three in two innings. He allowed one hit, a Chris Davis double in the fourth. Crow threw 17 strikes in 23 pitches, with his fastball at 95-97 mph. He struck out Craig Gentry, the first batter he faced, with a 95 mph fastball.

"I expect myself to do well," Crow said. "I did about how I expected myself to. I have faith in myself. I know if I locate my pitches, I have a chance to get guys out."

Osuna, a 22-year-old left-hander, has been primary a starter in the minors, but could open the season in the bullpen. He allowed only a bunt single to Elvis Andrus and then got Craig Gentry to ground into a double play.

"I was really impressed," Royals manager Trey Hillman said of Osuna. "The change-up played out plus again. It looks like a fastball. It's very effective."

ESPN.com news services

REDDING FIGHTING FOR SPOT WITH ROCKIES (6:29 p.m. ET)
Tim Redding, vying for a spot on Colorado's staff, started and allowed three hits and run in the Rockies' 8-6 victory against a Milwaukee Brewers' split-squad Saturday.

Redding is in camp on a minor league deal. The Rockies might be in need of a starter if Jeff Francis isn't ready to begin the regular season after missing all of 2009 following shoulder surgery.

Redding threw 15 of 30 pitches for strikes in two innings.

"I'll take it. I don't know if I'm happy with it," Redding said of his outing. "I wasn't able to pound the zone as much as I'm accustomed to. I got to be a little crisper than I was today."

Jody Gerut and Craig Counsell, were two of the more recognizable players in the Brewers' lineup and each had two hits. Counsell scored twice, and Gerut hit a windblown triple and double, reached base on his three plate appearances and drove in three runs.

-- Associated Press

MARLINS' JOHNSON STARTS EARNING PAYCHECK (5:11 p.m. ET)
Marlins ace Josh Johnson has started earning his $39 million contract.

Making his first start since signing his lucrative four-year deal in January, Johnson allowed two runs in two innings in Florida's 6-5 win over the Cardinals on Saturday.

Johnson, who'll be Florida's opening day starter after posting a 15-5 record in 2009, looked like an ace in a perfect first inning that ended with Albert Pujols looking at a called third strike.

But he was a little rusty in the second inning, which started with Colby Rasmus connecting on a 2-2 pitch for a long home run to right field.

Right-hander Kyle Lohse made his spring debut for the Cardinals and allowed one run on six hits in 2 2/3 innings.

-- Associated Press

METS' PELFREY UNVEILS SPLIT-FINGER FASTBALL (4:20 p.m. ET)
Mike Pelfrey unveiled an effective split-finger fastball in his first spring start, Fernando Martinez had four hits and homered twice, and the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 14-6 on Saturday.

Pelfrey allowed four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits in the first two innings he worked, finishing with a 1-2-3 third. The right-hander took a Cristian Guzman liner off the outside of his right knee in the second, sustaining a minor bruise.

Washington is winless in four exhibition games and has been outscored 50-21.

Left-hander John Lannan, the Nationals' likely opening day starter April 5, gave up two runs, two hits and a walk in two innings of his first spring outing. He struck out two.

-- Associated Press

OSWALT WALKS THREE, LOADS BASES IN DEBUT (4:16 p.m. ET)
Roy Oswalt threw two rocky, yet scoreless innings in his spring debut and the Houston Astros beat the Atlanta Braves 3-0 Saturday.

Oswalt walked three and loaded the bases in the first. He allowed just one hit and struck out two while throwing 44 pitches.

Outfield prospect Jason Heyward singled in the fifth inning and has reached base at least once in all five of the Braves' spring games. He's now 4 for 10 with four walks.

Carlos Lee doubled and scored in his spring debut for the Astros and Lance Berkman made his first start of the spring at first base, going 0 for 1.

Braves starter Kris Medlen gave up one hit and two walks in two scoreless innings.

-- Associated Press

PUJOLS AND KOBE TALK PREPARATION (12:44 p.m. ET)

Reigning MVP Albert Pujols sat courtside Thursday for the Lakers-Heat game in Miami and had a "prep" talk of sorts before tipoff with past MVP Kobe Bryant, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"What got him so successful is what got myself so successful," the Cardinals slugger told the newspaper. "[Basketball is a] different sport, but to be successful and be the best like he is the best, you have to prepare yourself and do those things."

Pujols, who had bone chips removed from his right elbow in the offseason, told the Post-Dispatch that he's taking 150 swings a day and also doing work off a tee to prepare himself for another long season.

"I'm able right now to use the tee where last spring I wasn't able to do as much because I felt [the elbow]," Pujols told the paper. "In part, I would say my struggles in spring last year was that ... I couldn't take as many swings. ... There's nothing that I am concerned about."

-- ESPN.com news services

ENCARNACION'S SPRING STILL ON HOLD (11:59 a.m. ET)

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnacion will not make his spring debut for at least a few days -- until his surgically repaired left wrist can handle at-bats.

Encarnacion, who hit .225 with 13 homers and 39 RBIs in 85 games with Cincinnati and Toronto in 2009, said he feels pain when he hits the ball off the end of the bat.

"Hopefully, I will be able to play next week," Encarnacion said, according to the Toronto Sun.

-- ESPN.com news services

RANDOLPH REVVED UP FOR MORE BP (11:53 a.m. ET)

Willie Randolph's right arm is feeling better these days. The Milwaukee Brewers bench coach underwent offseason surgery on a torn right flexor tendon.

According to The New York Times, Randolph wore out his arm from throwing batting practice last season, something he did only occasionally while Mets manager from 2005-2008.

"I'm 55 years old, and I've never had a sore arm in my life," Randolph told The New York Times. "So I went back last year and threw every single day. These kids love to just hit, hit, hit, hit. The heart was willing, but my body said, you're an old man, what are you doing?"

Randolph told The Times he hopes to be throwing BP sometime in May.

-- ESPN.com news services

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

-- The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com senior baseball writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later, Lincecum acknowledged the experience took him by surprise.

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

-- ESPN.com news services

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

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

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

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

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

-- ESPN.com news services

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

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

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

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

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

-- ESPN.com news services

null

March, 31, 2009
03/31/09
8:54
AM ET
For more spring training news that could impact your fantasy team, check out our daily camp notes.
• Sign up, play for free
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.

null

March, 25, 2009
03/25/09
1:22
PM ET
For more spring training news that could impact your fantasy team, check out our daily camp notes.
• Sign up, play for free
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."