Spring Training Blog: March 10

March, 10, 2010
03/10/10
12:26
PM ET
GRANDERSON MAKES CATCH OF DAY VS. FORMER TEAM (8:05 p.m. ET)
Curtis Granderson made the play of the day in the first meeting between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers since their winter exchange of outfielders and pitchers.

Granderson's catch against the center-field wall robbed Miguel Cabrera of at least an RBI double in the fourth inning, keeping the Yankees in the game before Greg Golson hit a two-run home run in the ninth off Phil Dumatrait to give them a 9-8 victory.

"That catch was a dandy, or should I say that was a Grandy?" said Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

Detroit's center fielder for six seasons before he was traded to the Yankees on Dec. 9, Granderson singled in his first two at-bats and also walked.

"On the bus ride over here, I was just wondering how it was going to go, and everything went pretty good," Granderson said. "I wasn't really sure what to expect. In spring training they kind of cheer everybody. I'm thankful for it."

-- The Associated Press

PENNY IMPRESSIVE FOR CARDS (7:05 p.m. ET)
This type of outing was what St. Louis was hoping for when it signed Brad Penny to a $7.5 million, one-year contract in the offseason.

Penny threw four shutout innings to help the Cardinals beat the winless Washington Nationals 6-4 on Wednesday.

"He was nails," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "He had good stuff. His location was outstanding. He was very impressive."

Penny allowed one hit, struck out two and walked none in a much sharper effort than his spring debut. The right-hander gave up three runs and six hits in two innings against a Mets split-squad on Friday.

-- The Associated Press

BLISTER SLOWS DOWN LOWE (6:20 p.m. ET)
Right-hander Derek Lowe was hampered Wednesday by a blister on his right foot, forcing him out of the Atlanta Braves' 7-6 victory over the New York Mets after just one inning.

Lowe said he's had recurring problems with blisters for several years and he couldn't get leverage on the mound. He allowed three runs and five hits, and manager Bobby Cox said he didn't know if Lowe would be able to make his next start.

Jesus Sucre's RBI single in the 10th inning gave Atlanta the win. Chipper Jones also had a two-run double in the fourth for the Braves.

Chris Carter homered and drove in four runs for the Mets.

New York starter Jonathon Niese allowed three runs and three hits in two innings.

-- The Associated Press

GREINKE EXTENDS SCORELESS STREAK (6:18 p.m. ET)
Zack Greinke was far more pleased with his first start than with the three innings he threw for the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies.

Nonetheless, he extended his scoreless streak this spring to six consecutive innings, allowing two hits in that stretch.

Greinke, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, threw 51 pitches -- 31 for strikes -- to help the Royals to a 5-0 victory Wednesday. He gave up a first-pitch double to Troy Tulowitzki with two out in the first and allowed two runners to reach base in the third on an error and a walk.

"It still wasn't as sharp as the game before," said Greinke, referring to the 27 pitches he threw in three innings Friday against Texas. "It was a little chilly out and it just was hard to get loose. So everything wasn't as crisp."

Greinke is on schedule for his Opening Day start April 5 against the Detroit Tigers. It will be the first start in a season opener for Greinke, and he won't see the Tigers this spring since they train in Lakeland, Fla.

"I think it works to the pitcher's advantage a little bit," Greinke said. "The first time a hitter sees you, it's tougher on the pitcher than the hitter."

-- The Associated Press

DRABEK FACES OLD FRANCHISE (6:14 p.m. ET)
Kyle Drabek, the pitcher the Toronto Blue Jays coveted and finally got in the trade that sent ace Roy Halladay to Philadelphia, tried to treat Wednesday's start against the Phillies like any other game.

It was good advice from his father, 1990 National League Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek. The result: two scoreless innings, one walk and one hit allowed in the Phillies' 4-2 victory.

"I told him I was pitching against them," Drabek said, "and he told me, 'It's just another team. Don't get too excited. Just go out there and pitch. Don't try and overdo anything."

Was it just another team?

"Definitely not," the 22-year-old right-hander said with a laugh. "Seeing all those hitters up there, I had a lot of fun today. I could see smiles on some of the guys in the Phillies' bullpen, so it was good."

Conflicting lineups on a clubhouse bulletin board had him pitching the first and second innings, or the third and fourth.

"Going out there first, it was a lot of fun, especially going against the Phillies," he said. "I was glad I was able to keep the ball down and get a few ground balls."

Drabek likely will start the season at Double-A New Hampshire, but could jump quickly to Triple-A Las Vegas.

-- The Associated Press

SHEETS GETS ROUGHED UP (6:08 p.m. ET)
Ben Sheets still looks like a pitcher who hasn't worked in nearly a year and a half.

His command isn't quite there and his fastball velocity is slightly down. Oakland's new $10 million ace still considered his short outing in a 9-5 loss Wednesday over the Chicago White Sox a step in the right direction.

Sheets, who missed all of 2009 recovering from elbow surgery, allowed six runs -- five earned -- on five hits with a walk in 2 2/3 innings of his second spring start.

The Athletics got a big lift from Eric Chavez, who hit his first two home runs of the spring -- including a two-run shot in the first off winning pitcher Daniel Hudson.

-- The Associated Press

SANDOVAL GETS TO ZAMBRANO (6:07 p.m. ET)
Pablo Sandoval hit a grand slam off Carlos Zambrano and Jonathan Sanchez pitched three scoreless innings Wednesday, leading the San Francisco Giants to a 5-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

Zambrano, the one-time ace who reported to camp in top shape after winning only nine games last season, had given up only one hit in four spring innings before the Giants scored five times in the third. After allowing three soft singles, he hit Eugenio Velez with a pitch and then yielded Sandoval's line drive over the right-field wall.

It was the first homer for Sandoval, who batted .330 with 25 home runs and 90 RBIs in 2009. His eight RBIs have helped the Giants to a 7-1 record this spring.

-- The Associated Press

LIDGE FACES HITTERS, SET TO APPEAR IN GAME (5:00 p.m. ET)
Closer Brad Lidge faced hitters for the first time since offseason surgeries on his right elbow and right knee.

Lidge threw 21 pitches to Ozzie Chavez and Chris Duffy at Philadelphia's training complex in Clearwater, Fla. He then went through a round of fielding drills.

Lidge was a perfect 48 for 48 in save chances in 2008, helping the Phillies win the World Series. But he led the majors with 11 blown saves last year and finished 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA in the regular season.

The right-hander is expected to throw another live batting practice session on Friday and is scheduled to appear in a game on Monday.

-- The Associated Press

JIMENEZ NAMED ROCKIES' OPENING DAY STARTER (4:47 p.m. ET)
Manager Jim Tracy named Ubaldo Jimenez his Opening Day starter. The assignment had been expected since the start of spring training. Tracy said he waited until the day after Jimenez had a strong start to make it official. He pitched three scoreless innings Tuesday against the Dodgers.

Aaron Cook, who started for the Rockies on Opening Day in 2007 and 2009, said he wanted to be with Tracy when he gave the news to Jimenez. Tracy said Cook "very unselfishly is handing the torch to him."

"I have a lot of respect for [Cook], but right now I have even more respect for what he did, that he came in with us," Jimenez said of the meeting with Tracy. "After Tracy told us, we walked outside and he gave me a lot of advice about Opening Day. He told me to just take it as another game and be prepared for it and just enjoy it."

This will be the first Opening Day start for the 26-year-old Jimenez, who went 15-12 last year with a 3.47 ERA, the lowest in franchise history for a starter. While logging 218 innings, Jimenez pitched at least six in a franchise-record 25 consecutive starts from May 1 to Sept. 7.

"I like challenges," Jimenez said. "I'll be there."

-- The Associated Press

ROBERTS RECOVERING FROM ILLNESS (3:27 p.m. ET)
Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts said Wednesday he is better, two days after falling ill. He isn't sure if the illness resulted from a medication given during his rehabilitation for a back injury.

Roberts, who led the American League with 56 doubles last season, has yet to play this spring. To speed his recuperation from the back injury, Orioles medical personnel gave him some medication on Sunday. On Monday night, he reported feeling ill.

Roberts said he hopes to resume some baseball activities on Thursday. "It's not ideal," he said, "but I'm not concerned about missing Opening Day yet."

-- The Associated Press

PRICE LEAVES GAME AFTER BAT ATTACK (2:53 p.m. ET)
Tampa Bay Rays prized left-hander David Price, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, left Wednesday's game against the Boston Red Sox in the bottom of the second inning after being hit on the right hand by the barrel of a shattered bat.

With no outs and Kevin Youkilis on first base for the Red Sox, Adrian Beltre's bat splintered on a pitch from Price. The barrel headed toward the mound, where price deflected it with his non-pitching arm.

Price walked off the field with a towel wrapped around his right hand. According to team spokesman Rick Vaughn, Price had an abrasion on his right thumb and will not need stitches.

The Rays held a 1-0 lead at the time, but Youkilis and Beltre eventually scored in the inning, with both runs charged to Price.

-- The Associated Press

MEJIA HAS MANUEL'S ATTENTION (2:47 p.m. ET)
With Kelvim Escobar shut down because of a weak shoulder, the question is who might fill in as the Mets' eighth-inning setup man.

Manager Jerry Manuel seems fixated on the organization's top prospect, right-hander Jenrry Mejia. The 20-year-old, who has risen no higher than Double-A, has created a buzz this spring with an electric fastball that has carried him through 5 1/3 shutout innings.

"I like him a lot," Manuel said. "For me, when you are that dominant, you hope as you progress that you continue to see that consistency. What he has to do is prove he can throw consistent strikes. If he can do that, you've got somebody fighting for him."

Manuel admits he sees Mejia through a prism because of the dire need for an eighth-inning guy, but said he probably wouldn't start him in that role right away. He'd like to ease him in, but then that leaves the setup spot still up in the air for Opening Day.

Right-handed relievers Bobby Parnell and Ryota Igarashi, a Japanese pitcher signed to a major-league contract, are candidates, and former Marlins reliever Kiko Calero signed a minor-league deal last week to enter the mix.

-- The Associated Press

BROWN UNDERGOES KNEE SURGERY (1:10 p.m. ET)
Indians rookie Jordan Brown had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Wednesday.

Brown tore the medial meniscus in the knee during outfield drills Friday before the Indians' first exhibition game. Brown, a 26-year-old first baseman/outfielder, will need four to eight weeks of rehabilitation.

A fourth-round draft choice in 2005 from the University of Arizona, the left-handed hitter won the Triple-A International League batting title with a .336 average in 2009.

-- The Associated Press

DAMON MISSES SHOT TO FACE FORMER TEAM (12:31 p.m. ET)
Detroit Tigers outfielder Johnny Damon sat out against his former team because of a sore toe.

Damon was scratched for what would have been his first spring training game against the New York Yankees on Wednesday after stubbing his right big toe "running around in the yard" a day earlier.

Damon says he could have played if it were "life or death," joking that some people might consider a Tigers-Yankees spring training game to be just that.

But he wanted to stay off the toe for a day. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Damon probably will play Thursday.

-- The Associated Press

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