February, 17, 2009
Giants left-hander Noah Lowry missed his second straight mound session of spring training Tuesday after developing tightness in his shoulder during pre-camp throwing sessions.

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

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

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

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

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

Andruw Jones is anxious to make everyone forget 2008, when he showed up out of shape for the first year of a two-year, $36.2 million deal with the Dodgers, hit just .158 and was eventually sidelined for the season by knee problems.

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

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

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

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

Alfonso Soriano has heard this question so many times since he arrived in Chicago two seasons ago: Could he, would he, should he be moved out of the leadoff spot?

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

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

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

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

Power-hitting left fielder Carlos Lee was a no-show at Astros camp on Tuesday, the deadline for players to report in time for the first full workout.

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

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

Sunday is the mandatory reporting date.

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

Cardinals third baseman Troy Glaus tried all winter to avoid surgery on his right shoulder and yet the pain would not disappear.

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

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

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

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

As Alex Rodriguez took his seat 2,500 miles away, the half-dozen players working out in the weight room at the Oakland A's facility here in Phoenix stopped to watch the Yankees' third baseman address the media.

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

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

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

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

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

-- Amy K. Nelson,

Two years ago, Jeremy Guthrie was just looking to stick in the major leagues as a long reliever after being claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.

Next month he will be pitching for Team USA.

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

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

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

Mike Lowell is still with the Red Sox and confident he'll be ready by Opening Day following hip surgery.

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

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

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

Gary Sheffield is taking a new approach as he enters his 21st season in the majors: He wants to cut back on controversial remarks.

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

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

Sheffield is one homer from reaching No. 500.

Adrian Beltre and the Seattle Mariners aren't exactly on the same page right now.

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

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

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

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

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jeff Francis is going through workouts with the Rockies, but doesn't know when he will be pitching in a game after battling a strained shoulder since last season.

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

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

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

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

Carlos Quentin is open to suggestions on how to control his temper.

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

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

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

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

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.



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