Around the Grapefruit League

Atlanta Braves: Seventeen months ago, doctors cut into Mike Hampton's left elbow and
replaced a damaged ligament -- the dreaded Tommy John procedure. The
recovery always takes at least a year and, even then, there's no
guarantee that the elbow will feel like it did before, at least not
right away.

Hampton, who was hopeful of being 100 percent when he got to
spring training, now realizes that he's still in the midst of

"There's going to be good days and bad days," he said,
standing at his locker with a bulky ice pack strapped to his left
shoulder. "I just know I've got a long way to go. I've still got
some stuff to accomplish before I can get into a game. That's just

Hampton threw a handful of curves during five minutes of batting
practice, the first time he's used his breaking ball this spring.
He could definitely feel the resistance in his elbow.

"I'm not where I need to be," he said. "It felt good early,
then I threw some breaking balls. I didn't feel as good later in
the session as it did earlier."

Elsewhere in the Grapefruit League:

Baltimore Orioles: One successful inning in an
intrasquad game would be insignificant for most pitchers with major
league experience. To John Parrish, it felt like the World Series.

The Baltimore Orioles' left-hander, who hasn't pitched in a game
that counted since undergoing reconstructive surgery on his elbow
in July 2005, turned in a scoreless sixth inning Tuesday in an
intrasquad matchup. He allowed one hit and struck out one.

"I was still a little nervous and anxious to get out there,"
said the 29-year-old Parrish, who's trying to secure one of the
final spots in the bullpen. "I just took my time and made sure to
gather myself."

It's been a long comeback for Parrish. While recovering from the
2005 surgery, he needed two more medical procedures last year to
remove scar tissue and a bone spur from his elbow. He couldn't
pitch again until September, when he threw one inning in the
instructional league.

Boston Red Sox: Joel Pineiro is with a new team, preparing for a new role
and working with a new pitching motion. The Boston Red Sox hope all
that adds up to him becoming their new closer.

"It's a fresh, new start, a new beginning," Pineiro said
Tuesday. "So hopefully, I can start off the way I started as a

He began releasing the ball at a lower point late last season, and the change
appears to have worked. He faced David Ortiz, Wily Mo Pena and
Julio Lugo in batting practice recently and was impressive.

"Those are guys that I faced with my [previous] arm angle,"
Pineiro said. "They haven't seen me from down low and they said,
'Oh, man, it looks like your ball's coming in a lot better.'"

Florida Marlins:
Miguel Cabrera looked ready to go Tuesday. He homered
in the third inning to help the Florida Marlins beat the University
of Miami 12-7 in Jupiter, Fla.

"I want to be ready for the season," said Cabrera, awarded a
$7.4 million contract in arbitration this month. "I don't want to
start slow."
Jeremy Hermida and Joe Borchard also connected for the Marlins,
and top prospect Chris Volstad pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Florida faces its first big league opponent Wednesday when it plays
the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.

Houston Astros: The Astros held an intrasquad scrimmage on Tuesday.

Manager Phil Garner was most impressed by closer Brad Lidge, who threw 13 pitches and struck out two batters.

"Lidge was perfect," Garner said. "If he maintains his mechanics like he did today, he'll be in perfect shape."

New York Mets: Outfielder Carlos Beltran and catcher Paul Lo Duca were late scratches from the intrasquad game for precautionary reasons. Beltran said
his neck and quadriceps were sore.

Both are expected to play Wednesday against Detroit.

John Maine and Philip Humber were among those to throw scoreless innings in the scrimmage.

Outfielder Ben Johnson dropped a ball in the first inning.

New York Yankees: Kei Igawa was the center of attention even
before he threw a pitch Tuesday.

About 20 photographers from his homeland lined up behind the
plate to record the Japanese left-hander's first warmup toss before
a New York Yankees' intrasquad game. The quick-working Igawa needed
just 19 pitches to cruise through two scoreless innings.

"He was good," manager Joe Torre said. "There's really no
wasted motions. He's very compact and he goes after it. I think
that's a sign of knowing what you want to do."

The only hit Igawa allowed was a leadoff, first-pitch drag bunt
single by the speedy Brett Gardner. Three pitches later, Igawa
induced a double-play grounder from Bronson Sardinha. After Jose
Tabata ended the first with a grounder, Igawa pitched with a 1-2-3

Pittsburgh Pirates: Pittsburgh outfielder Xavier Nady left the team Tuesday afternoon to fly to Pittsburgh for more tests on his inflamed intestine. The tests taken Monday at a Bradenton hospital produced "nothing conclusive," Littlefield said.

The GM did not say if any chronic conditions had been ruled out, nor what the new round of tests would cover.

"This isn't something that's bothered him on a
frequent basis and, frankly, progress is being made as far as how
he feels. So, it's not something that I'm overly concerned about,"
Littlefield said.

The Pirates played an intrasquad game Tuesday. Brad Eldred homered in his first at-bat, Nate McLouth hit
a three-run shot and Luis Matos made two fine defensive plays in
the outfield.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Stuart Sternber is entering his second season as
principal owner of the perennial last-place team, and he knows some
people question his commitment to winning because the club's
payroll still ranks among the lowest in baseball.

"I feel like the honeymoon is over," Sternberg said Tuesday
during a visit to spring training.

"You can get a sense of things. You can get a whiff or a
smell," he added. "I think it all emanates from the payroll."

Nevertheless, Sternberg thinks the franchise has made
substantial progress since he took control following the 2005
season, and he remains confident the club is headed in the right

The Associated Press contributed to this report.