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March, 14, 2009
03/14/09
10:48
AM ET
A'S GIAMBI BELTS FIRST SPRING HR (9:21 p.m. ET)
Orlando Cabrera made his Athletics debut and Jason Giambi hit his first homer of the spring in an 8-3 victory over a San Francisco Giants split squad Saturday, but the club also had to shut down All-Star pitcher Justin Duchscherer because of a sore elbow.

Giambi belted a two-run homer against minor leaguer Joe Martinez in the first inning. Giambi started the spring 1-for-17, but has four hits in six at-bats, with two walks, in his past three games.

"The last few games I'm hitting the ball good, really starting to get locked in, just in time because we only have 21 games to go," he said. "I'm right where I want to be this time in the spring."

Cabrera had a single in three at-bats as the designated hitter, his first game with his new team. He is scheduled to make his debut at shortstop on Sunday, when Nomar Garciaparra will make his A's debut at third base. Garciaparra and Cabrera did not sign until March 6.

BURNETT SPARKLES IN SECOND SPRING START (6:45 p.m. ET)
A.J. Burnett threw four perfect innings in the New York Yankees' 3-1 split-squad win over the Houston Astros on Saturday.

Burnett struck out three during his 40-pitch outing. He has allowed one hit over six shutout innings in two spring training starts.

Burnett went 18-10 with Toronto last year. The Yankees signed him to an $82.5 million, five-year free-agent contract during the offseason.

TIGERS' ROBERTSON STRONG; BONDERMAN THROWS (5:43 p.m. ET)
Nate Robertson pitched three scoreless innings in the Tigers' 10-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, allowing one hit while fanning one. With three weeks left to win the final spot in the Tigers' starting rotation, Robertson was pleased.

"Its my job to lose," Robertson said. "I am not putting pressure on myself. I am fighting for a job. No pressure."

Robertson and Dontrelle Willis are candidates for the final spot behind Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, Armando Galarraga and Jeremy Bonderman. Zach Miner and Rick Porcello also are in the mix.

There could be two openings because Bonderman has a sore shoulder, but he threw 30 pitches Saturday in a game against Tigers minor leaguers and reported no pain. Bonderman will start Thursday against Atlanta.

TOP PROSPECT SHARP IN BID FOR ROTATION SPOT (4:15 p.m. ET)

Carlos Carrasco turned in a solid outing on Saturday, giving the top pitching prospect a boost in the race for the Phillies' open rotation spot.

His performance during the Phillies' 5-2 victory in Kissimmee, Fla., over Houston was bolstered by another sluggish offensive effort by the Astros.

Carrasco, who is competing with Kyle Kendrick, Chan Ho Park and J.A. Happ for the final spot in the rotation, allowed one run and four hits in three innings against a Houston split squad.

He faced a lineup that included Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee and was supposed to be bolstered by the return of Miguel Tejada from the World Baseball Classic.

Instead, Tejada and Lee went a combined 0-for-6 while Berkman fared a bit better with two hits and an RBI.

ORIOLES REASSIGN 7 TO MINOR LEAGUE CAMP (1:41 p.m. ET)

Prized Orioles pitching prospects Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta are among the seven non-roster players Baltimore has reassigned to its minor league camp.

Joining the right-handers at the minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla., on Saturday are right-handers Fredy Deza and Ryan Keefer; catchers Jose Reyes and Adam Donachie; and infielder Craig Brazell.

BACKE SHELVED WITH STRAINED MUSCLE IN RIBS (11:15 a.m. ET)

Right-hander Brandon Backe has been sidelined for at least 10 more days with a rib injury, according to the Houston Chronicle.

According to the newspaper, a strained intercostal muscle in Backe's side is threatening his chances for a spot in the Astros' rotation for the start of the regular season.

"Not real promising, when you think about it," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said in Kissimmee, Fla., according to the paper.

Backe, 30, was injured Sunday in a spring training game against the Pirates.

"It's already been four or five days now and who knows how much longer," Backe said. "Worried? Not really worried. I'm more aggravated than anything."

WEEKS PLAYS THROUGH IT -- WITH HOMER (10:59 a.m. ET)

Second baseman Rickie Weeks shrugged off his well-documented struggles with his first homer of the spring Friday during a 5-1 win over the Royals in Phoenix.

Weeks said afterward he's looking past the harsh treatment from fans he's received in Milwaukee.

"I really don't care about it. I don't look into too much of it," Weeks said. "I couldn't care less about what people think or say. I'm going to do what I've got to do to help this team win, plain and simple."

Injuries haven't helped Weeks, the second pick of the 2003 draft who has 72 errors in 445 games, including 15 last year, and is a career .245 hitter. He hurt his wrist because of his hard bat waggle and his knee in the past three seasons. He struck out 116 times in 2007 and 115 times last year.

"Playing through injuries? I've been doing that pretty much my whole career to this point," Weeks said.

-- Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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