Category archive: Lance Berkman
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Eric Chavez says he's ready for Opening Day.
Chavez, who is rehabbing from shoulder surgery, started and played third in the Athletics' 9-5 victory over the Dodgers, his first back-to-back games in the field this spring.
Chavez was limited to designated hitter duties early in the spring, and then he had a setback that cost him about two weeks. On Monday, Chavez had a double and a walk in three trips to the plate. He is 3-for-17 this spring, but he's 2-for-6 since he returned to the lineup following his setback.
"Timing feels good," Chavez said. "I've just got to get used to getting in there every day and back-to-back days. It's always different playing in a game with the adrenaline. For some reason there are different parts that work when you have adrenaline versus when you don't."
Meanwhile, left-fielder Manny Ramirez dropped a fly ball on the warning track, then fell down while trying to make a running catch, drawing an error, during the A's four-run second inning. "My gold glove is in jeopardy," Ramirez said.
BENSON ON BOARD? (9:06 p.m. ET)
Kris Benson believes he has done enough to nail down the final spot in Texas' rotation, and manager Ron Washington agrees.
"He's one of mine," Washington said when asked if Benson is one of the Rangers' five best starters. "It's more than me making the decision."
Benson pitched six strong innings and the Rangers beat the Giants 7-5. He gave up three runs and six hits, struck out two and walked none.
Benson, who has a 4.76 ERA in 17 innings this spring, hasn't pitched in the major leagues since 2006 after rotator cuff surgery.
"I feel like every time I step on the mound and face hitters it's an audition," said Benson, who missed the 2007 season, pitched 11 Triple-A games last year and signed a minor league deal with the Rangers in February.
HARDEN BACK ON MOUND (8:24 p.m. ET)
Rich Harden returned to the mound for the first time since March 15 because of food poisoning and gave up three homers and five runs in the Cubs' 8-8, 10-inning tie with the Royals.
"I'm feeling good and got my strength back," said Harden, who gave up four hits in 4 2/3 innings while walking two and striking out four. "I threw 80 pitches and was still feeling just as strong at the end of it, which is good. We'll extend it a little more next time. My body is as strong as it's going to be. I'm ready to go."
Harden lost seven pounds after eating tainted chicken salad.
"I'm starting to put some weight back on," he said. "I'm still down a couple of pounds, but that's it. I'm definitely feeling a whole lot stronger now and it's back to normal, back to where I was before. My shoulder is feeling really strong, which is good."
Harden's next start will be Saturday at the new Yankee Stadium in the Cubs' final exhibition game.
"It's going to be nice being in Yankee Stadium, a big game like that," Harden said. "It will be like regular season. It will be packed there."
BAEK SIDELINED (8:15 p.m. ET)
Cha Seung Baek will miss his final Cactus League start and possibly the start of the season for the Padres because of a strained right forearm.
Baek left a start Sunday after four innings, complaining of soreness. The Padres are uncertain if the right-hander will be put on the disabled list.
Baek is 2-4 with a 9.27 ERA in seven starts this spring. Kevin Correia, who started for San Diego on Monday, is likely to take Baek's rotation spot should the injury linger into the season.
YANKS WATCHING CHAMBERLAIN (7:52 p.m. ET)
Joba Chamberlain needs to show Yankees manager Joe Girardi two things in his next-to-last spring training start for it to be considered a success.
"Efficency and location," Girardi said before leaving for Monday's road game against Toronto in Dunedin. "I'd like to get six innings if we could."
Chamberlain, the Yankees' No. 5 starter, is 3-0 with a 3.68 ERA in five major league spring training starts. However, the right-hander has pitched just 14 2/3 innings during the stretch, with a long of 4 1/3 innings.
Girardi feels it is "fairly important" that Chamberlain have a longer outing before spring training ends. His last scheduled preseason start is in a minor league intrasquad game Sunday in Florida.
Chamberlain split time last season between the bullpen and a starting role.
"As a reliever, it doesn't matter if you throw 25 pitches in an inning," Girardi said. "You do that as a starter, and you're not going to be deep into games. That's what we want all our starters to do."
JAYS WORRIED ABOUT RYAN (6:55 p.m. ET)
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston expressed concern about closer B.J. Ryan after he pitched a shaky eighth inning in Toronto's 3-1 loss to the Yankees.
Ryan gave up one run and two hits, including Angel Berroa's RBI double to left-center. The left-hander, who skipped the World Baseball Classic to work on his mechanics, has a 9.00 ERA this spring.
Gaston said he might consider making Scott Downs the closer and putting Ryan "somewhere else for a while and go from there." He said he wants to see how Ryan does in his final two spring appearances.
Ryan said he's moving in the right direction.
"The runs are just [from] pitching behind," he said. "Pitch behind in counts and you get in predictable counts. Aside from that there were some good things that came out of today."
JACKSON EARNS SPOT WITH TRIBE (6:40 p.m. ET)
Zach Jackson will open the season as the final pitcher on the Indians' staff.
The left-hander was told by manager Eric Wedge that he will be with the team when Cleveland opens the season in Texas against the Rangers on April 6.
"I'm excited, actually close to speechless right now," said Jackson, who was one of four players acquired by Cleveland in the July trade that sent CC Sabathia to the Brewers.
"Zach is a guy who is going to help us and I think sooner than later. He's had a very good camp."
Jackson began spring training in a competition for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, but Wedge liked the way the 25-year-old worked in relief. In six outings over 18 1/3 innings, he had a 6.87 ERA, but had a good walks-to-strikeouts ratio of four to 11.
RAYS RELEASE ENSBERG (6:27 p.m. ET)
The Rays released former All-Star Morgan Ensberg.
The infielder agreed to a minor league deal with the Rays in February. He hit .227 with four RBIs this spring.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he appreciated Ensberg's efforts, but Tampa didn't have a place for him with the Triple-A club.
Ensberg, an All-Star with Houston in 2005, appeared in 28 games for the Yankees last season, batting .203 with one homer and four RBIs. He spent parts of the previous six seasons with the Astros and Padres, and is a career .263 hitter with 110 home runs.
DICE-K VS. KAWAKAMI (6:23 p.m. ET)
Kenshin Kawakami relished the opportunity to match up against fellow countryman Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Matsuzaka allowed two hits and an earned run over five innings in his return to the Red Sox from the World Baseball Classic. Kawakami gave up a two-run homer to Rocco Baldelli for his only runs, and the Braves rallied to beat the Red Sox 4-3 in 10 innings on Monday.
More than 30 Japanese media members in the press box made the game a bit more intense for the starters.
"With so many media, I guess I felt a little more excited," Kawakami, who signed with the Braves this winter after starring in Japan, said through an interpreter. "If I was in Japan, I'd probably enjoy [the matchup] also."
Matsuzaka, who was the MVP of the tournament, liked the timing of the pitching pairing as he adjusted from the pressure of the WBC to spring training.
"Luckily today, going up against Kenshin-san on the other side gave me a change to get revved up," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. "When I'm going up against any Japanese player, whether pitcher or position player, I'm always keeping an eye out on what kind of game they're going to pitch or how they're doing in the batter's box."
MAUER LIKELY TO STAY BEHIND (6:18 p.m. ET)
Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer likely won't travel with his team when it heads north to Minnesota next week.
Mauer, who is battling lingering pain and inflammation in his lower back, will consult with doctors and Twins officials in the next few days to evaluate his progress.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said there is no timetable for Mauer's return but that he seemed to be improving.
"He's moving around really good," Gardenhire said. "That's kind of nice. He has a smile on his face, which he hasn't had in a long time."
Mauer told reporters Sunday: "I feel the best I've felt all spring." The catcher said he hopes to engage in baseball activity this week but he's unsure when that will be.
"This week, I'm going to try to do more baseball stuff," Mauer said, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "When, I don't know. But it'll be good to get out there. I can't wait. It's been a long spring. But I'll put it all behind me when I get back on the field."
"It was good to see everybody," Smoltz, who ended his 20-year tenure with the Braves by signing with the Red Sox in January, said before Boston's spring game against Atlanta. "It was different. There are a lot of memories. ... You miss it. But it's time to move on."
Braves manager Bobby Cox said the clubhouse hasn't been nearly as loud this spring without Smoltz.
"You always heard him," Cox said. "[But] players move up."
During Smoltz's later years with the Braves, a golf date with Woods was always part of spring training. This round came a day after Woods' victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at nearby Bay Hill.
"I didn't see his [winning] putt, but I'll tell him I did," Smoltz said prior to leaving for Isleworth Country Club.
MOTTE THE MAIN MAN (5:26 p.m. ET)
The Cardinals reassigned Chris Perez to the minor leagues following their 2-1 victory over the Marlins on Monday, clearing the way for Jason Motte to get the bulk of the work as their closer.
Perez, a first round pick in 2006, experienced arm trouble earlier this spring. He entered Monday's game having made eight one-inning appearances and allowed only two earned runs.
"He's got 100 innings in minor league baseball," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's really such a young pitcher. He needs to work. He needs to work regularly. He can be the closer in Memphis and get valuable experience."
Perez's departure means Motte will get first crack at saving games, though La Russa will probably give opportunities to other relievers as well.
"We are going to use whoever is available but I would believe that Motte is going to get a chance to close games," La Russa said.
The Rockies now have 34 players on their major league spring training roster, including eight non-roster invitees.
The Tigers sent minor league pitcher Rudy Darrow to Atlanta in Monday's deal.
Anderson hit three home runs and stole 10 bases in 40 games with the Braves last year.
Darrow played at Double-A Erie and Class A West Michigan last year. The 25-year-old right-hander finished 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA in 14 appearances at Erie and went 4-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 33 games with West Michigan.
The 26-year-old Anderson was a fourth-round draft pick in 2003.
Dellucci hit .240 (6-for-25) with two homers and five RBIs in eight spring games for Cleveland. This is his sixth trip to the DL since reaching the majors in 1997 with the Baltimore Orioles.
The 35-year-old signed a three-year contract as a free agent before the 2007 season.
The Indians also recalled outfielder Trevor Crowe from Triple-A Columbus on Monday. Crowe, 25, batted .289 with one homer, three RBIs and went 6-for-6 in stolen-base attempts this spring before being optioned out on Saturday.
CARPAL TUNNEL LIMITS ARROYO (2:35 p.m. ET)
Bronson Arroyo is having a flare-up of the carpal tunnel syndrome that has bothered him from time to time over the last few years. This bout is especially nasty, along with the timing. The season starts in less than one week.
"I don't know what it's from, man," Arroyo said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I can't write. I can't do anything with my pointer finger and thumb without it being irritated. I had it back in '04 in the playoffs [with Boston] pitching against the Yankees. I've had it for years."
So far, Arroyo has been able to overcome the problem, which bothers him much more when he holds a pen or a guitar pick. It returned last May and gave him problems for about three months. Arroyo finished 15-11 with a 4.77 ERA last season, when he was the only Reds pitcher who didn't miss a start. He led the staff with 200 innings. The right-hander can pitch with the problem. He'd rather not have to try.
Arroyo hasn't done very well in his last two starts during spring training. He gave up 11 hits in five innings of a game against minor leaguers on March 24 and was pounded for 14 hits and 10 runs -- three earned -- in only 4 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay on Sunday. The Rays took advantage of his inability to throw a breaking ball, something he passed off as just a bad day. There's more to it, though.
Asked if the carpal tunnel bothers his hand when he's pitching, Arroyo said, "Yeah. It's almost like taking a 220 [volt] line of electricity and pinching it off and you're only getting about two-thirds of it. You feel like you don't have much power, and you don't have much command. So I've got about another week to try to get it out of there. We'll see."
BERKMAN HAS BICEPS TENDINITIS (2:18 p.m. ET)
Lance Berkman was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis Sunday after seeing the team's doctor.
The Astros slugger will sit out the next few days but he doesn't appear to be in jeopardy of missing Opening Day. He was scratched from the Astros' lineup Saturday.
"I don't think Lance feels it's anything of great significance," Astros GM Ed Wade said, according to the Houston Chronicle. "[Athletic trainer] Nate [Lucero] didn't want him to make the trip [Saturday] because if he went over there with orders to swing the bat X number of times he would have swung the X times one hundred times. We wanted to keep him from being tempted to do too much."
Berkman said his injury doesn't affect his swing. It only bothers him when he throws.
"I'm going to try to DH [Tuesday]," Berkman told MLB.com. "That's what I'd like to do, if they'll let me."
CUBS CUT BAKO, STANTON (2:14 p.m. ET)
The Cubs released veteran catcher Paul Bako and left-hander Mike Stanton. Bako, 36, was hitting .364 this spring after signing a free-agent contract with Chicago on Jan. 30. Stanton, 41, who was out of baseball last season after being released by the Reds on April, has a career record of 68-63 with a 3.92 ERA in 1,178 games.
The Cubs also announced that catcher Koyie Hill and first baseman Micah Hoffpauir have made the Opening Day roster. Hill, who spent most of last season at Triple-A Iowa while recovering from a hand injury sustained after the 2007 season, was batting .381 this spring. Hoffpauir was batting .295 this spring, with a team-high five home runs and major league-leading 22 RBIs.
ROMERO WINS ROTATION SPOT (11:56 a.m. ET)
Rookie Ricky Romero pitched himself into the Blue Jays' starting rotation, manager Cito Gaston said Monday.
The 24-year-old left-hander was in a competition with Brad Mills and Scott Richmond for the final two spots in Toronto's rotation. Mills and Richmond are still battling for the fifth spot.
The 22-year-old McCutchen is one of the team's top prospects and was a first-round draft pick in 2005. This spring, he batted .318 with two home runs, seven RBIs, two stolen bases and a team-best 12 walks.
General manager Neal Huntington said he expects both McCutchen and Bixler will play for the Pirates at some point this season.
Bixler will be Indianapolis' starting shortstop, and will get some playing time at second base.
The Pirates have 35 players remaining in camp.
The 33-year-old Jones signed with the Reds on Feb. 5, getting a chance to win a reserve spot. He went only 4-for-45 (.089) in spring training, and was reassigned to the minor league camp Monday.
The Reds optioned Hopper and Thompson to Triple-A Louisville. Hopper batted .132 this spring, costing him a shot at a reserve role. The 23-year-old Thompson jumped from Class A to Triple-A last season. The Reds want him to get more experience in the minors.
PHILLIES CUT INFIELDER GILES (10:25 a.m. ET)
The Phillies released veteran infielder Marcus Giles on Monday. Giles was in camp as a nonroster invitee.
They also informed reliever Gary Majewski, utility infielder Pablo Ozuna and outfielder John Mayberry Jr. they won't be making the team, but they will go north with the club and play in exhibition games in Philadelphia this weekend against Tampa Bay.
-- ESPN.com's Jayson Stark
MATTHEWS STEWS AFTER DEMOTION (9:34 a.m. ET)
Gary Matthews Jr., who is in the third year of a five-year, $50 million contract, was told Sunday in a meeting with club officials that he will start the season as the Angels' fifth outfielder. He didn't take the news well.
Matthews did not travel with the team Sunday to play the Rangers. Instead, he requested and was granted a day off to cool off. He wasn't in a talking mood when approached by reporters.
"Just give me a day, guys, OK?" Matthews told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times. "Thanks."
It is unclear if Matthews has requested a trade, but when asked by reporters if he was being dealt, he said "no."
Angels general manager Tony Reagins said that currently he has no plans to deal Matthews and wouldn't disclose details of the meeting.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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Jason Schmidt knows he won't be ready when the Los Angeles Dodgers open the season.
Schmidt threw 51 pitches, his most in a Cactus League game this spring, but allowed three runs, three doubles and three walks in 3 1/3 innings Sunday. San Diego beat the Dodgers 7-3 for its third straight victory after a 4-17-4 start.
Schmidt, who expects to begin the season making minor league rehab starts, struck out two in a perfect first inning before allowing a two-run double to Everth Cabrera in the second.
The right-hander began spring training hoping to be the Dodgers' No. 5 starter, but he's been unable to pitch full-tilt and has had trouble recovering from even short stints.
Wood, the Cubs' closer last season, had a solid outing for Cleveland. He worked a scoreless seventh inning, walking one and striking out one.
The Cubs traded DeRosa to the Indians on Dec. 31 for three minor league pitching prospects. He hit both home runs and the double against Chicago starter Ted Lilly.
A'S TALK TO GALLAGHER (9:20 p.m. ET)
It was another rough day for an Oakland Athletics starting pitcher.
Sean Gallagher gave up six runs and nine hits in five innings Sunday, and then was summoned into a meeting with general manager Billy Beane. Gallagher emerged a few minutes later and said that Beane had just wanted to "light a little fire under my butt."
"It wasn't a good day of executing pitches for me," the right-hander added.
NATS SCRATCH CABRERA (9:19 p.m. ET)
Washington right-hander Daniel Cabrera was pulled because of neck spasms sustained Saturday while swinging in batting practice.
Nationals manager Manny Acta said he's not sure if the injury will affect Cabrera's ability to make his first scheduled start of the season April 8 against the Marlins.
Cabrera is day to day and hopes to get one more exhibition start this week.
"The plan is, we've got to wait and see how he is today and then try to plan accordingly," Acta said. "You can't plan on him throwing unless he's able to. He'll have another [exhibition] start. He's not a guy to worry about because he's a guy who pitched winter ball, so he's been stretched out and all that."
GARDNER NAMED YANKS' CF (7:07 p.m. ET)
Brett Gardner has won the Yankees' starting center field job.
The speedy Gardner had a .228 batting average over 42 games in 2008, but was successful on 13 of 14 stolen-base attempts. He is hitting .385 with five stolen bases in 22 spring training games.
The Yankees plan to have Cabrera on the regular-season roster in a backup role.
PADRES' BAEK HURT (6:38 p.m. ET)
San Diego's starting pitching is thin to begin with and things didn't improve Sunday when Cha Seung Baek left his game against the Dodgers with a strained forearm flexor in his right arm.
"We'll re-evaluate it in 24 hours to see how significant an injury it is because right now its really hard to tell,'' Padres trainer Todd Hutcheson said. "Right now I'd say it's very mild but we have to see if there is any swelling and how sore it is when he comes in in the morning. Once we re-evaluate we'll see where we go. It doesn't look bad right now.''
Baek, who figures to be the No. 3 starter if healthy, entered the game with a 1-4 record and 9.95 ERA in six Cactus League starts. He gave up five hits and two runs, walked two and struck out two in 3 1/3 innings before the injury Sunday.
-- ESPN.com's Jim Caple
HOFFMAN PLAYS CATCH (5:33 p.m. ET)
New Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman will still likely start the season on the disabled list, but he did make some progress on Sunday.
Hoffman played catch for the first time since March 20 when he was shut down with a strained muscle along his right side, according to MLB.com. The all-time saves leader and the Brewers trainer reportedly told manager Ken Macha that they were encouraged by the session.
"We still have a long way to go, but we're making progress," Macha said, according to MLB.com.
Although Hoffman will travel with the team when it breaks camp, he may still face a minor league rehabilitation assignment before making his Brewers debut.
"We're not even at step one," Macha said, according to the Web site. "Until he gets throwing on the mound, it's hard to do projections."
BIG UNIT FEELS READY (5:26 p.m. ET)
Randy Johnson thinks he's ready for the regular season despite some down time this spring.
Johnson, preparing for his first season with San Francisco, threw 80 pitches in a minor league camp game Sunday, giving up seven hits and two runs in his final Arizona appearance.
The Big Unit was 1-2 with a 2.38 ERA in four spring training starts. He faced minor leaguers twice and missed one start because of biceps tenderness.
"I feel good where I'm at now," said the 45-year-old lefty, five wins short of 300. Every pitcher goes through a tired arm, whether you are my age or 25. I'm not Nostradamus. I don't know if I'll have it again."
Johnson will make his last exhibition start Thursday against Oakland in the Bay Area series before pitching in the Giants' second regular-season game April 8 against Milwaukee.
Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said Sunday morning that because of Morrow's lack of innings this spring, he'll begin work as a reliever rather than in the starting rotation as originally planned. Morrow has been limited to three spring appearances because of forearm stiffness.
This won't be a temporary move to build arm strength after Morrow missed much of spring training with forearm stiffness. Morrow said the move was determined a week ago, adding that he "feels at home" in the bullpen and doesn't envision returning to a starting role.
"There's no discussion about going back so far," said Morrow, taken with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft and pegged since then as a starter. "I think that I'd be more useful as a bullpen pitcher than a starting pitcher."
He's scheduled to throw in games Tuesday and Wednesday if his arm is well enough.
The Mariners also optioned catcher Jeff Clement to Triple-A Tacoma. Clement was Seattle's top pick and third overall in 2005. Clement has struggled at the plate after batting .295 in 66 big-league games last year with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 203 at-bats.
PADRES TRADE BURKE TO M's (4:37 p.m. ET)
The Padres traded veteran infielder Chris Burke, who wasn't going to make the team's major league roster, to the Mariners on Sunday for cash considerations.
The trade of Burke all but guarantees that infielder Everth Cabrera, who was selected in the Rule 5 draft during the winter meetings, will make the Padres' Opening Day roster.
Burke hit .281 in 32 spring at-bats. He signed a non-guaranteed minor league contract with San Diego in the offseason.
"The bottom line is they like who they have. I think I've played well, but they like who they have. The reality is when you're a non-roster player, things could break that way," he said, according to MLB.com. "Unfortunately for me, they didn't think I was a good fit for them."
OHMAN TRIES OUT FOR DODGERS (3:35 p.m. ET)
Left-hander reliever Will Ohman pitched a two-inning simulated game against minor leaguers for the Dodgers on Sunday.
Manager Joe Torre and most of the Dodgers' front office were in attendance to watch Ohman, who is the top available reliever still on the market. Los Angeles is in need of a left-handed setup man after Joe Beimel signed with the Nationals earlier this offseason.
Ohman is reportedly seeking a contract worth at least $2 million for the upcoming season.
SHOULDER BOTHERS BERKMAN (2:18 p.m. ET)
The Astros are going to be without slugger Lance Berkman for the next few days as the first baseman struggles with a sore left shoulder.
And Berkman paints a grim picture of the pain he's having. The team hopes he'll be available to play a week from Monday in the team's regular-season opener.
"It's not a pending surgery, but let me say this -- it's more painful and worse than I initially thought," Berkman said, according to MLB.com. Berkman however, said he has no doubts he'll be able to play on Opening Day.
Berkman initially tweaked the shoulder early in camp and has since aggravated the shoulder with a diving play in a game against the Phillies on Friday and a recent batting practice session.
LOWE TO START BOTH BRAVES' OPENERS (2:01 p.m. ET)
New Braves ace Derek Lowe not only will start the team's opener against the Phillies on April 5, he'll also take the mound for the team's home opener on April 10 against the Nationals.
Lowe isn't taking the responsibilities lightly.
"There's nothing wrong with saying you're going to be nervous," Lowe said, according to MLB.com. "There's no doubt. It's not only my Opening Day. But it's my Opening Day for a new team and no matter where I would have pitched in the rotation, there would have been some nervousness and anxiousness because you want to get off to a good start."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.