O's, Nationals due to play home-and-home series

Washington Nationals-Baltimore Orioles: Fans of the Nationals and Orioles will finally see their teams battle on the field as their off-field rivalry has flared, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

In a tentative schedule for the 2006 season, the teams will play home-and-home series, a source with knowledge of the Nationals' schedule told the Post.

The Orioles, the only team to object to the Montreal Expos' move to Washington, are set to play a three-game series at RFK Stadium the weekend of May 19-21, 2006. The Nationals will also travel 35 miles north for a three-game series at Camden Yards. Dates for that series were unavailable.

The interleague matchup between the two geographic rivals should continue beyond the 2006 season.

"That's going to be our natural rival," Nationals president Tony Tavares told the Post. "This isn't a one-year thing. It will be an annual thing, as long as there's interleague play. It makes the most sense."

New York Yankees: Yankee Stadium could go out with a bang.

The New York Post reported Saturday that the Yankees and Major League Baseball have discussed the possibility of Yankee Stadium hosting the 2008 All-Star Game. The Yankees will move into a new Yankee Stadium in 2009.

"There have been talks about it being a way to honor the last year of the stadium," a source told the Post.

Pittsburgh will host the 2006 All-Star Game and San Francisco has been chosen to host in '07. The Post reported that after two years in an NL park, the All-Star Game will likely be awarded to an AL team for '08.

Yankee Stadium has hosted the contest three times, in 1939, 1960 (the second All-Star Game) and 1977.

Los Angeles Angels: Kelvim Escobar is making progress in his rehabilitation from right elbow surgery.

The L.A. Daily News reported that the pitcher, on the disabled list for the third time this season, threw a bullpen session -- manager Mike Scioscia called it a "power pen" -- throwing all his pitches at nearly full strength.

"I'm close to 100 percent," Escobar told the Daily News. "I threw the split-finger for the first time. I feel fine."

According to the Daily News, Escobar is scheduled to pitch batting practice Monday or Tuesday and could pitch in a simulated game next weekend.

"Kelvim had a nice bullpen session," pitching coach Bud Black told the Daily News. "I'm very optimistic right now."

Not all news is good, though. The Daily News reported that, thanks to the emergence of Ervin Santana, the Angels could have six starters for five spots when Escobar returns. But Escobar said he'd be willing to come out of the bullpen for the rest of the season if it means he can return sooner.

"All I'm doing is working pretty hard to get back healthy," Escobar told the Daily News. "I'm willing to do anything."

Boston Red Sox: The good news: Trot Nixon's strained left oblique muscle is healing faster than expected, according to the Boston Globe.

The bad news: The Red Sox and doctors won't let him play yet.

"I'd play on Monday," Nixon told the Globe on Friday. "[The doctors] would say no."

The Globe reported that Nixon, who missed his 14th straight game Friday, caught fly balls, fielded grounders and hit soft toss -- manager Terry Francona told the Globe that Nixon took around 60 cuts -- about four hours before Friday's game.

"He's progressing rapidly, quicker than he thought he would," Francona told the Globe. "You all saw what we saw [when he was hurt July 26 swinging and missing]. It looked like he got shot. I think I'm surprised he feels this good this quick.

"We're going to have to sit all over him, because he's feeling good. We're going to have to put a harness on him," Francona said.

Nixon told the Globe he'd repeat his workout Saturday and might hit live batting practice.

"The big hurdle will be cutting loose, me swinging like I usually swing," Nixon told the Globe. "Running full speed, coming up and making throws to certain bases, and cutting it loose [with my bat] are probably the three greatest challenges anyone's going to have with this.

"We'll go through next week and see how it goes," he said.

Seattle Mariners: The ACL in Chris Snelling's left knee is causing trouble again.

The Seattle Times reported that, although the Mariners won't find out for another few weeks, it appears as though the outfielder has torn his ACL for the second time this season. He was placed on the 15-day DL on Friday is expected to miss quite a bit of time.

Mariners spokesman Tim Hevly told the Times the team will only get a prognosis after Snelling has arthroscopic surgery in two or three weeks.

"Right now, we can only say it appears that Chris has re-injured the ACL," Hevly said. "There is a new tear in the previously reconstructed graft. But this cannot be confirmed without arthroscopic surgery."

Hevly told the Times that the delay in performing the surgery "is because Chris has a previous abrasion [scrape] on the knee at the place the surgery would be performed. That ups the chances of infection considerably."

The Mariners won't replace Snelling on the 25-man roster for another day or two. Instead, the Times reported that pitcher Ryan Franklin's 10-day suspension for violating baseball's substance abuse policy will end, and the team will go with 13 pitchers for the time being. After that, Mariners officials aren't sure what they'll do -- but they are certain that Sonics player Ray Allen, who worked out with the team, won't be the answer.

"I don't think he'll be in left," manager Mike Hargrove told the Times, "unless he buys a ticket."

Who's on third? Third base coach Jeff Newman needs surgery to repair a partially torn left Achilles tendon and will miss the rest of the season.

Mike Goff, the organization's minor-league instruction coordinator, joined the Mariners on Saturday and will serve as interim first base coach. Carlos Garcia, who had been the first base coach, moves to third.

Newman has been slowed by pain in his left ankle over the past month, and tests this week showed a 60 percent tear in the Achilles tendon. Team medical director Dr. Larry Pedegana recommended surgery to prevent a complete rupture.

"Jeff did a real solid job, both as a catching instructor and as a third base coach," Hargrove said. "We felt it was important to get this taken care of immediately."

Texas Rangers: Right-hander Juan Dominguez was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma and made his first start of the season for the Rangers against the Yankees.

The 25-year-old Dominguez was 0-2 with a 5.11 ERA in 12 relief appearances with the Rangers in June and July. He yielded five runs and four hits without recording an out on July 9 against Toronto in his last game in the majors.

Dominguez is 1-6 with a 5.23 ERA in parts of three seasons. His lone win came on June 5, 2004, at Yankee Stadium, when he limited the Yankees to a run and five hits in eight innings.

Texas was in need of a quality start; its pitchers had a 9.58 ERA during the team's five-game losing streak entering Saturday.

To make room, the Rangers optioned pitcher Erasmo Ramirez to Oklahoma.

Cleveland Indians: Left-hander Arthur Rhodes was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right knee inflammation and right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.

Rhodes experienced pain and swelling in his knee after a bullpen session Friday before the Indians' 8-6 loss to Tampa Bay. The reliever left the ballpark after the workout.

The 35-year-old Rhodes was activated from the bereavement list Friday. He missed a week because of an illness in the family.

In 44 relief appearances this season, Rhodes is 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA. He has allowed 32 hits and 11 walks in 41 innings, striking out 41.

The 26-year-old Guthrie was 10-9 with a 5.20 ERA in 22 starts at Buffalo. The Indians' first-round draft pick in 2002 made his major-league debut with Cleveland last August and compiled a 4.63 ERA in six games in relief.

Oakland A's: The owners of the Athletics have proposed
a plan to build a new 35,000-seat ballpark that would transform a
rundown warehouse district just north of the Coliseum.

Team managing partner Lewis Wolff told the Oakland-Alameda
County Coliseum Authority Friday that the A's owners would pay most
of the estimated $300 million to $400 million in building costs.
The team would not ask the public for a bond to help finance the
project as the Raiders did to expand the Coliseum a decade ago, he

The new ballpark would transform an area next to Interstate 880
that's currently home to the Coliseum Flea Market and several small
businesses. Wolff said he would like to see a new Bay Area Rapid
Transit station built nearby.

The proposed complex would include retail outlets and a hotel or
apartment building that would serve as part of the outfield wall,
similar to Toronto's Rogers Centre, which has hotel rooms
overlooking the field.

The owners want the project to start moving forward by the start
of next baseball season, Wolff said.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers, looking for outfield
depth because of Brady Clark's injury, called up Corey Hart from
Triple-A Nashville.

To make room, the team optioned utilityman Trent Durrington to
Nashville. He will report to the minors Tuesday.

Hart was hitting .308 with 17 home runs and 69 RBI in 112 games
for Nashville. He also had 31 stolen bases.

Hart will help fill in for Clark, who is out with a bruised
ribcage he sustained Thursday.

"He'll play until Brady gets back on the field," Milwaukee
manager Ned Yost said. "He's swinging the bat real well, does a
lot of things well to help your team win."

Durrington was 3-for-10 in 23 games with Milwaukee. He also had
five stolen bases, primarily as a pinch-runner.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.