Category archive: Jose Reyes

SANCHEZ WHIFFS 11 (7:48 p.m. ET)

Jonathan Sanchez had his strongest outing of the spring Monday, giving up one run on three hits and striking out 11 in six innings as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 8-6.

Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter against San Diego on July 10, gave up only one hit after the first inning. Rickie Weeks homered with one out in the sixth inning.

John Bowker, making a bid for an outfield spot on the Giants' opening day roster, continued his strong hitting with his fifth home run and a double.

Bowker hit a two-run shot in the fifth inning, one of two given up by Brewers starter Dave Bush.

Eugenio Velez went deep with a man on in the first for San Francisco.

-- The Associated Press

PINEIRO DOMINATES (7:25 p.m. ET)

Joel Pineiro took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Kansas City Royals 10-2 on Monday.

Pineiro worked 6 2/3 innings, his longest of five spring appearances, and allowed only two hits and a run with two walks and two strikeouts.

Over his last 15 2/3 innings, Pineiro has allowed three earned runs. His spring ERA is now 3.48.

Scott Podsednik?s lead-off double in the sixth broke up the no-hitter. Podsednik scored one out later on Rick Ankiel?s double.

Royals starter Kyle Farnsworth made his second start and fifth appearance of the spring and allowed one hit in two innings.

Royals closer Joakim Soria was hit hard, allowing four hits and four earned runs without recording an out.

-- The Associated Press

CALLASPO HURTING (5:44 p.m. ET)

Alberto Callaspo may not be ready for the Kansas City Royals season opener April 5 with Detroit because of an irritation in his right side.

Callaspo has been held out of all baseball activities since the injury, which occurred Friday while taking batting practice.

Callaspo hit .300 last season with 41 doubles and 11 home runs. He was slated to bat third and play third base.

-- The Associated Press

PIRATES TO BAT PITCHER EIGHTH (5:44 p.m. ET)

Andrew McCutchen hit one of Pittsburgh's four home runs and the Pirates unveiled their new-look batting order Monday in a 13-1 romp over the Houston Astros.

Pirates manager John Russell plans to begin the season with his pitcher hitting eighth, a move that will shift McCutchen from leadoff to second in the batting order.

With pitcher Paul Maholm in the No. 8 spot, Akinori Iwamura hit leadoff, McCutchen was in the No. 2 spot and shortstop Bobby Crosby batted ninth.

The only change Russell might make would be putting Ronny Cedeno, scratched because of lower back pain, in the lineup instead of Crosby.

Iwamura hit a three-run homer and McCutchen, Brandon Jones and Andy LaRoche had two-run shots.

"It sets us up to score more runs," Russell said. "It really seems to make a lot of sense, a way to get more guys in scoring position in front of Aki, Andrew, [Garrett] Jones and ([Ryan] Doumit. It creates good balance in the lineup."

The Pirates claimed RHP Hayden Penn off waivers from the Florida Marlins. To clear space on the 40-man roster, OF Brandon Moss was designated for assignment. The Pirates have 10 days to trade, release or waive him.

Moss, a former Red Sox prospect acquired in the Jason Bay trade in July 2008, hit .081 this spring. He hit .232 with 13 home runs and 64 RBIs in 178 games with Pittsburgh. The 25-year-old Penn was 1-0 with a 7.77 ERA in 16 games with Florida last season and is 4-6 in 30 games with the Orioles and Marlins.

For the Astros, right-handed pitcher Roy Oswalt (left hamstring tightness) was examined in Houston by Dr. Michael McCann. Oswalt received an injection in his back and will make his scheduled start Wednesday. Oswalt is expected to start as planned on Opening Day.

-- The Associated Press

CARPENTER GETS NOD; GARCIA BATTLES (5:37 p.m. ET)

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa confirmed that Chris Carpenter will start Opening Day in Cincinnati.

And Jaime Garcia kept up his bid for a spot in the St. Louis rotation, pitching six innings Monday as the Cardinals beat the Minnesota Twins.

Garcia gave up two runs and eight hits without a walk. La Russa said there probably would be an announcement about the starting staff.

"He knew what was at stake and he handled himself well," La Russa said. "He got a lot of balls on the ground and threw a good assortment of pitches."

Kyle McClellan, who was in competition with Garcia and Rich Hill for the final rotation spot, has been a valuable member of the bullpen the last two seasons with a 3.73 ERA in 134 games. He can be used in the middle to late innings.

"That's where we need him," manager Tony La Russa said. "I just don't think we have enough depth."

Said McClellan: "It's pretty obvious with [Garcia] in our rotation it's going to be a very solid rotation. I can go back to the bullpen and improve on what I've done the last two years."

Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick homered off Twins starter Kevin Slowey. Minor leaguer Daniel Descalso hit a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to win it.

-- The Associated Press

YANKEES HURLER BRIDGES GAP BETWEEN RIGHT, LEFT (2:53 p.m. ET)

Yankees minor league ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte is expected to pitch in his first major league spring training game during Tuesday's split-squad contest against Atlanta.

Venditte, who uses a six-finger glove, pitched at Class-A Charleston and Tampa last season, posting a combined 4-2 record with 22 saves.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi says he has wanted to see Venditte pitch all spring.

Girardi earlier this spring asked that Venditte be sent over for a big league game from the minor league complex.

Yankees Opening Day starter CC Sabathia is scheduled to start the game with the Braves.

Also, reliever Alfredo Aceves has back tightness and will not pitch for the next few days.

-- The Associated Press

METS' REYES TAKES BATTING PRACTICE (2:18 p.m. ET)

Jose Reyes is a step closer to appearing in a game for the first time this spring.

The New York Mets' shortstop took batting practice against minor league pitchers Monday morning and said the session went better than expected.

Reyes has participated in six workouts since returning to camp Wednesday, following a three-week absence with a hyperactive thyroid that prevented him from doing any physical activity.

"I didn't expect to hit the ball that hard today," Reyes said of the session. "I expected to swing at a couple and miss, but it was better than I expected."

The two-time All-Star hasn't played in a game, other than an intrasquad scrimmage, since last May when he was sidelined because of a hamstring injury.

Reyes said he still doesn't know when he will get into a game or if he will be ready for Opening Day, but he hasn't had any problems since returning.

"I haven't played since last May so I can't wait to get on the field and play with my teammates, but right now we're going to take it one day at a time and see what happens next," he said.

-- The Associated Press

MORROW RESUMES THROWING FOR BLUE JAYS (2:09 p.m. ET)

Toronto right-hander Brandon Morrow threw 52 pitches in a simulated game after being shut down for a week due to a "dead arm."

He allowed one hit, walked one and struck out four of 14 batters. He says he "felt great, could've kept going."

Morrow, projected as the No. 3 starter in the Blue Jays rotation, is scheduled to make his final spring start Saturday at Houston and said he could go five or six innings against the Astros.

He took himself out of his previous start on March 19 against Houston after experiencing soreness in his right shoulder while warming up in the bullpen.

-- The Associated Press

BEDARD RETURNS TO MOUND AT MARINERS CAMP (1:22 p.m. ET)

Erik Bedard is back on a mound for the Mariners -- albeit at less than half speed.

The oft-injured left-hander took his first step to rejoining Seattle's jumbled rotation by tossing about 20 pitches off the mound out of the stretch position Monday morning.

General manager Jack Zduriencik, special assistant Tony Blengino, manager Don Wakamatsu, pitching coach Rick Adair, two other coaches and two trainers watched the 6-minute session in a side bullpen.

The Mariners estimate Bedard could pitch again by June, though this mound work is earlier than originally expected.

Bedard joked to Zduriencik his throws were "all strikes."

-- The Associated Press

NATIONALS' FIFTH STARTER "UP IN THE AIR" (1:19 p.m. ET)

Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman says the team has settled on four-fifths of its starting rotation, with 1997 World Series MVP Livan Hernandez and Craig Stammen earning spots along with Opening Day starter John Lannan and Jason Marquis.

Stammen will be the team's No. 3 starter, and Hernandez earned the fourth spot after signing a minor league contract in February.

Riggleman says Monday the fifth starter's job is "up in the air," with Scott Olsen, Garrett Mock and J.D. Martin in the running.

The Nationals have some time to make a decision, because an off day early in the regular season means they won't need a fifth starter until April 11.

-- The Associated Press

SNYDER BATTLES FOR JOB (7:32 p.m. ET)
Chris Snyder is still with the team that tried so hard to trade him, and he finds himself in an uphill fight for playing time.

The Arizona Diamondbacks catcher says he was fine with the purported deal last fall that would have sent him to the Toronto Blue Jays.

He called it "a new opportunity." But the trade, reportedly for one-time Diamondback Lyle Overbay, fell through. So Snyder remains with Arizona and must compete for playing time with Miguel Montero, the man who replaced him when he was injured last season.

Manager A.J. Hinch says Montero is ahead of Snyder in training camp but he expects both to be big contributors this season.

-- The Associated Press

VICTORINO HAS SORE SHOULDER (6:42 p.m. ET)
Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino is nursing a sore shoulder and could miss Thursday's exhibition game against Florida State, the Philadelphia Daily News reported on Monday.

Victorino took batting practice on Sunday but was held out of throwing drills as a precaution.

"He's got a little soreness," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said, according to the newspaper. "He had it when he first came in to camp. Right now, we don't want to throw him in our drills -- cutoffs and relays and infield. We'll take it easy on him for a few days and make sure he's alright. That's kind of typical when you come into spring training and first start out. It can happen from sleeping on your arm, or anything, really."

-- ESPN.com news services

PORCELLO GETS NOD (6:40 p.m. ET)
A year ago, Rick Porcello was considered by some too young to make the Detroit Tigers' pitching staff.

After leading American League rookies in wins last season, Porcello was named as the starting pitcher for Detroit's home opener April 9 against the Cleveland Indians.

"It's an honor, seeing how big the home opener was in Detroit last year," said Porcello, who won 14 games as a 20-year-old rookie in 2009. "Fans were coming out early and tailgating. It's obviously a pretty big deal. I remember how exciting it was and what the buzz was like with the crowd there for opening day. So I'm excited to be pitching in it."

A week ago, manager Jim Leyland chose 19-game winner Justin Verlander for the season opener at Kansas City on April 5. Max Scherzer, who came from Arizona in a December trade, will pitch the second game at Kansas City on April 7.

"I want Scherzer to get his first start under his belt on the road, and I don't know who the other two starters are," Leyland said. "You could pencil about four or five names in right now for the third game, and for the fifth game."

Jeremy Bonderman, Armando Galarraga, Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis and Eddie Bonine are in competition for two spots in the rotation as the Tigers prepare to open their exhibition schedule Tuesday against Florida Southern College. Porcello's first spring start is scheduled against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.

-- The Associated Press

STULTS KICKS OFF PITCHING COMPETITION (6:36 p.m. ET)
Dodgers pitchers will begin their battle for the open fifth spot in the rotation three days before the official spring training game schedule begins.

Left-hander Eric Stults will pitch for the Dodgers on Tuesday in a B game against the Chicago White Sox, kicking off what figures to be one of the more interesting competitions of camp.

Stults also has been the named the starter in Saturday's second spring game.

Stults' confidence already was high, but now he will enter the outing after receiving instruction Monday from Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax.

Stults was among a handful of pitchers who had a one-on-one session with Koufax. Josh Lindblom, Jon Link, Scot Elbert and Chad Billingsley also worked with the former Dodgers pitcher, who threw four no-hitters over a 12-year career, one of which was a perfect game.

"He does a great job relating to players," Stults said of Koufax. "I don't know if part of it is because he has that aura or awe about him. He's somebody that is special in the game of baseball. But he does have a way of communicating that you understand."

Stults is expected to pitch just one inning Tuesday and then go two innings against the White Sox on Saturday. But make no mistake, after struggling with a sprained left thumb last season and then working on the mental side of the game over the winter, Stults finally feels like it's showtime.

-- The Associated Press

POSEY LOOKING TO CATCH ON (5:24 p.m. ET)
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy knows a good catcher when he sees one. He spent parts of nine seasons as a catcher in the major leagues.

And he has no doubts about the future of Buster Posey.

"He's a complete guy," Bochy said Monday. "He can handle the bat, and has a strong arm behind the plate. He's an intelligent kid who knows what he's doing back there. He gets better and better. It's a matter of time before he's a front-line catcher in the major leagues."

The time probably will go much slower than the 23-year-old Posey would like.

Gerald Demp Posey III was the fifth overall pick by the Giants in the 2008 draft and won just about every award imaginable in college baseball at Florida State, including the Golden Spikes Award (top overall player) and the Johnny Bench Award (top catcher).

Posey played in 10 minor league games in 2008 and 115 in 2009, hitting a combined .327 with 19 home runs and 86 RBIs.

He got called up to the big club on Sept. 2 when veteran starter Bengie Molina suffered an injury. Posey played in seven games and started four after the team dropped from contention in the NL West. After the season, he got more work with the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League.

That probably wasn't quite enough experience to land him a spot on the 25-man roster when the Giants break camp at the end of March. He knows he likely will begin the season back at Triple-A Fresno, where he can play every day instead of riding the big league bench.

Posey's timetable of reaching the majors might have been accelerated had Molina, 35, gone to another club as a free agent over the winter. But Molina decided to return to the Giants, signing a one-year deal.

"The competitor in me wants to help the big club win, but if I do start at Fresno, I'm going to do everything I can to improve and get back up here," Posey said.

-- The Associated Press

REYES LOOKING HEALTHY AT METS CAMP (4:24 p.m. ET)
Mets manager Jerry Manuel let loose one of his loud chuckles. Yes, Jose Reyes did look healthy during New York's intrasquad game.

Reyes hit the first pitch he saw Monday for a two-run triple in his first game-like setting since he was sidelined for most of last season by an injured right leg.

"I just feel happy that I made it to third base with no problem, at that time," a grinning Reyes said. "But like I said, there's nothing to worry about. I feel good. No pain, pain-free. I feel good to be playing the game again."

Reyes, who has been a leadoff hitter for most of his career, batted third during the scrimmage. Manuel is toying with the move while All-Star center fielder Carlos Beltran is expected to miss the start of the season following right knee surgery.

The Mets also got an encouraging outing from Jonathon Niese, who is coming back after tearing his right hamstring last year. The left-hander struck out the side in the first and worked around a one-out walk during a scoreless second.

"It's a good feeling to face hitters in a game situation. It's been awhile," said Niese, who is trying to win the No. 5 spot in New York's rotation. "It's good to get off to a good start."

-- The Associated Press

A BRAND-NEW YOU (2:07 p.m. ET)
Twins outfielder Delmon Young has a new attitude and a new body this spring.

He is far more personable and engaging, something that began developing the second half of last year when he become more comfortable with the way the Twins do things -- and because the Twins showed him how much they wanted him.

"He is a great teammate," said manager Ron Gardenhire. "He is a pleasure to be around."

Young says he has gone from 239 pounds at the end of last year to 207 this spring.

"I want to return the days of 2006," he said, referring to his rookie year, when he could run, and really play defense.

-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

CARDINALS' FREESE LOOKS TO PUT ARREST BEHIND HIM (1:55 p.m. ET)
The St. Louis Cardinals are pleased with the way David Freese has handled his personal issues.

Freese was arrested in December outside of St. Louis on a drunken-driving charge. He apologized and is still slotted to be the team's third baseman this season.

"Obviously we were very unhappy with what happened," general manager John Mozeliak said Monday. "The very next day I met with him in my office and we talked about it. I made sure he understood dealing with the alcohol problem and dealing with the legal side was more important than baseball.

"If he could do all that then there wouldn't be any disciplinary actions. And that's what he's done."

Freese, 26, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.23, nearly three times Missouri's legal limit of 0.08, when he was arrested on Dec. 12 in Maryland Heights. He immediately entered the team's employee assistance program and said he has not had a drink since.

The case still is pending.

"It was poor judgment on my part," said Freese. "But God puts things in front of you for a reason. I've definitely learned from it. I've got a great opportunity in front of me that a lot of kids would dream of having."

-- The Associated Press

AGENT: METS NOT ONLY TEAM LOOKING AT BEIMEL (11:50 a.m. ET)
With Kelvim Escobar hurting and unlikely to make the opening day roster, the Mets are reportedly interested in free-agent reliever Joe Beimel. But they might not be alone in pursuit of the left-hander.

Beimel's agent, Joe Sroba, told 1050 ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand that the Mets are not the only team interested in the set-up man, but declined to name the other teams. "It is not a one-horse race," Sroba said. Escobar, who had been penciled in as the Mets' set-up man for Francisco Rodriguez, has not been able to throw off a mound yet this spring. To fill that gap, the team has been auditioning pitchers including Ryota Igarashi, Bobby Parnell, Sean Green and Fernando Nieve.

Last year, Beimel was 1-6 with a 3.58 ERA with the Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies.

A year ago, Beimel didn't sign until March 18.

-- ESPN.com news services

A GOLDEN MOMENT FOR MORNEAU (10:26 a.m. ET)
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, who is Canadian, was all smiles Monday morning after Canada won the gold medal in hockey Sunday night. He watched the 3-2 overtime win over the United States with Twins minor league outfielder Rene Tosoni, who also is Canadian.

Morneau was a good hockey goalie growing up. "I had to make a decision," he said. "I made the right decision playing baseball. But I'll always love hockey. It's a great game. And it's a great team game."

Morneau said he is good friends with a number of players on the Canadian Olympic team, including Brenden Morrow.

"I texted four guys after the game," Morneau said. "They texted me back. They didn't have to do that with all that was going on."

-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

MARINERS TAKING IT EASY WITH HERNANDEZ, LEE (9:19 a.m. ET)
The Mariners know they have a potent one-two punch in starting pitchers Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee. And they're not going to rush either man during spring training.

Hernandez, for example, skipped an expected bullpen session on Sunday, playing long toss instead, and later told a reporter "I'm fine," cutting off an anticipated question about his health.

Manager Don Wakamatsu explained why the team is holding the reins tightly on both pitchers.

"The first bullpen Felix threw this spring, it looked like he was throwing 100 mph, and that's exactly what we didn't want," Wakamatsu said, according to the Tacoma News and Tribune. "We're trying to limit the innings Felix and Cliff throw this spring, and the intensity with which they throw early on.

"They're both competitive guys. You put Felix on the mound, he's going to go hard. So we're not putting him on the mound as much right now," Wakamatsu said, according to the report.

"I'm fine physically, but I throw when they tell me to throw," Lee said, according to the report. "They've got a plan and I'm good with it. I've played catch, I've played long toss. My arm feels great."

-- ESPN.com news services

MURPHY COMES TO METS CAMP PREPARED (9:06 a.m. ET)
Mets first baseman Daniel Murphy had his struggles in the field and at the plate in 2009. He committed 10 errors in 101 games at first, including a flubbed grounder that handed a win to Atlanta in September. He slumped to .234 in June before hitting .282 the rest of the way.

But now that he's sure of his spot in the lineup, Murphy changed his offseason workout routine to prepare for the job. He also got some fielding lessons from 11-time Gold Glove first baseman Keith Hernandez right before spring training started.

"Keith was great. He added a lot of things to first base I hadn't ever really thought of, some things to work on," Murphy said. "The biggest thing I thought was just getting to know your other infielders."

Murphy impressed the Mets with his progress when he was the only position player to attend a team minicamp in January, and has looked more comfortable in the field since regular camp started.

"The goal in New York is to win, so it's not just the way I play first base or how I can play compared to some of the other guys that come through -- some great players," Murphy said. "At the end of the day I've got to find a way to help this team win."

-- ESPN.com news services

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March, 19, 2009
03/19/09
11:35
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BONDERMAN MAKES FIRST START (11:09 p.m. ET)
Jeremy Bonderman was more relieved to be back on the mound than pleased with his two scoreless innings. Bonderman made his first start since missing most of last season after having surgery to repair a circulatory condition in his shoulder and gave up two hits in the Tigers' 5-2 loss to the Braves.

Bonderman's return this spring was slowed by more soreness in the shoulder. At one point, he returned to Detroit to be examined by team physicians.

"It's been a long fight to get back," he said. "It was a relief to go out there and throw again with no pain. I'm over the hump."

The Tigers are hoping Bonderman can join a rotation that includes Justin Verlander, Armando Galarraga and Edwin Jackson after going just 3-4 with a 4.29 ERA before being shut down in June. Bonderman won at least 11 games -- and pitched at least 160 innings -- in each of the previous four seasons. On Thursday, he walked two and did not strike out a batter.

"My mechanics are not where I'd like them to be. There is a timing issue, but I'll get stronger," Bonderman said. "I'll be sore tomorrow, but normal sore. I'll be fine to throw again in five days. And the more I pitch, the stronger the arm will get."

LOWRIE, RED SOX ROUGH UP ARROYO (10:44 p.m. ET)
Jed Lowrie had another big game at the plate, hitting a two-run homer off Bronson Arroyo to lead the Red Sox over the Reds 9-1.

Arroyo was hit hard by his former team in the third inning. Lowrie's second home run of the spring came with Rocco Baldelli on base. One out and one walk later, Chris Carter went deep.

Lowrie also doubled in the first, giving him a team-high 17 hits this spring.

MARSHALL TO START FOR CUBS (10:32 p.m. ET)
Manager Lou Piniella made it official and named left-hander Sean Marshall as the Cubs' No. 5 starter to begin the season.

The 26-year-old Marshall had the inside track on the job from the beginning of spring training ahead of his chief competitors, right-handers Aaron Heilman and Jeff Samardzija.

Piniella made his announcement after Heilman started and beat the Mariners 9-2 on Thursday.

Marshall is 2-0 with an 0.63 ERA this spring while Heilman is 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA. Piniella said Heilman will go to the bullpen and pitch in the seventh and eighth innings.

TRIBE'S CARMONA HIT BY LINE DRIVE (8:41 p.m. ET)
Cleveland right-hander Fausto Carmona was hit on the right arm by a line drive while pitching in a minor league intrasquad game.

An Indians spokesman said Thursday X-rays were negative and that Carmona is "day to day with a right forearm contusion."

Carmona, a 19-game winner in 2007, missed two months last season with a strained left hip. He went only 8-7 with a 5.44 ERA, walking 70 and striking out 58 in 120 2-3 innings.

This spring, Carmona has a 2.45 ERA in four Cactus League games, including three starts. He has walked five and fanned four.

WELLS SET FOR FRIDAY RETURN (7:41 p.m. ET)
Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells is expected to return from a strained left hamstring and make his first spring training appearance this year on Friday as a designated hitter.

Wells last month re-injured the hamstring that kept him on the disabled list for a month late last season, when he hit .300 with 20 home runs and 78 RBIs in 108 games.

Toronto manager Cito Gaston said Wells may play three innings in the field Saturday before getting a day off Sunday.

PELFREY NEARING TOP FORM (7:13 p.m. ET)
Mike Pelfrey looks ready for the regular season. The Houston Astros don't.

Pelfrey pitched six sharp innings and the New York Mets routed the floundering Astros 12-1 on Thursday, dropping Houston to 1-16-3 this spring.

Pelfrey, meanwhile, is getting stronger as the spring goes on. Making his second start since skipping a turn with a strained muscle in his lower left leg, the right-hander was perfect through the first four innings Thursday. He allowed one run and three hits in all, with one walk and three strikeouts.

KAZMIR SATISFIED TO PLAY (6:07 p.m. ET)
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- A shaky spring training outing didn't faze Scott Kazmir.

Although Tampa Bay's All-Star left-hander gave up a three-run homer to Ryan Ludwick and a solo shot to Rick Ankiel during Thursday's 9-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, he didn't view his latest start as a setback.

The 25-year-old said he was affected by a stomach virus and was satisfied to get in four innings, even though the Cardinals got to him for five runs and eight hits.

BLANTON HAS BEST SPRING START (5:49 p.m. ET)
Joe Blanton had his best start of spring training, allowing just one hit over six scoreless innings for the Phillies in a 5-1 win over the Marlins.

"He threw strikes," manager Charlie Manuel said. "[Pitching coach Rich] Dubee said he threw 19 first-pitch strikes out of 20. That's unreal. That's super."

Blanton, the Phillies' No. 4 starter, struck out three and didn't walk a batter, lowering his ERA to 2.30. But he still wasn't completely satisfied.

"My location for the most part I was a little better today than I have been with it earlier in the spring," the right-hander said. "I don't know if the slider is as good as it was the last game I felt like my changeup stepped up a little bit."

KAWAKAMI SCRATCHED FROM START (3:33 p.m. ET)
Atlanta Braves right-hander Kenshin Kawakami was scratched from his scheduled spring training start Thursday night because of shoulder fatigue.

Kawakami, the first Japanese player ever signed by the Braves, is projected as one of the starters in a revamped rotation that also includes newcomers Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez.

Vazquez will start in Kawakami's place against the Detroit Tigers.

Kawakami has started three games for the Braves, going 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA in 9 2/3 innings. He has allowed eight hits, walked four and struck out four.

ONE WORD: OUCH (1:09 p.m. ET)
Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval left Wednesday's game against the Cubs after he was struck in the mouth by Joey Gathright's bad-hop grounder in the fifth inning.

Sandoval wears braces, and both his top and bottom lip were pushed into the braces. "It implanted his lips to his braces. [Trainer] Dave Groeschner had to pull his lips off," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Sandoval, the Giants' top candidate to start at third base while getting a crash course there this season, also chipped a tooth and was sent to see a dentist. "That's a hard infield, like a lot of these are in the desert, and it just came up on him," Bochy said.

Sandoval, hitting .450, is likely to miss the next two games, Bochy said.

MILLEDGE, BELLIARD NOT SERIOUSLY HURT (11:29 a.m. ET)
The Washington Nationals got some good news on the injury front Wednesday, when they learned that injuries to Lastings Milledge and Ronnie Belliard aren't believed to be serious.

Milledge is day-to-day with a left knee contusion; Belliard has a left ankle sprain and was expected to be re-evaluated on Thursday. Manager Manny Acta said the team expects Belliard to miss two or three days.

Milledge got hurt when he made knee-to-knee contact with Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez as he tried to leg out an infield single. Belliard was injured while trying to beat out a double play.

GET RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM (11:18 a.m. ET)
Jose Reyes is back in the New York Mets' leadoff spot, and for now the shortstop is there to stay.

Second baseman Luis Castillo, who had been batting leadoff, hit second again behind Reyes in the Mets' 7-4 loss Thursday to the Atlanta Braves. Manager Jerry Manuel had been batting Castillo first and Reyes third.

"[The experiment] is not over, but I think with Jose not being as active as I would have liked him to be [in the WBC], I've got to slowly get him back going," Manuel said. "To get him back going, I have to put him where he's comfortable. And I think that [leadoff spot] is where he's comfortable."

KURODA TO START DODGERS OPENER (11:06 a.m. ET)
Hiroki Kuroda has been named the Opening Day starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers' first regular-season game, April 6 at San Diego, manager Joe Torre announced.

Torre also announced that Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw will follow Kuroda in the rotation. He did not name a fifth starter.

Kuroda went 9-10 with a 3.73 ERA in 31 starts last season. He had 116 strikeouts, walked 42 and allowed 181 hits in 183 1/3 innings.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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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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March, 13, 2009
03/13/09
10:26
AM ET
HAMPTON TOSSES FOUR SCORELESS INNINGS (10:44 p.m. ET)

Houston's Mike Hampton had his best outing of the spring on Friday in Kissimmee, Fla.

He looked good and, perhaps more importantly, he felt good.

Hampton allowed three hits in four scoreless innings while striking out four as the Astros and Washington Nationals played to a 2-2 tie in 10 innings.

The injury-plagued lefty missed all of 2006 and 2007 and was limited to just 13 games last season because of various injuries, but is hoping to revive his career in his return to Houston, where he won 22 games in 1999.

The 36-year-old had allowed six runs combined in his two previous outings.

BEDARD CANCELS ANOTHER BULLPEN SESSION (10:36 p.m. ET)

Seattle left-hander Erik Bedard has canceled a bullpen session for the second consecutive day in Peoria, Ariz., raising concerns that the Mariners' ace may be hurt more than he's letting on.

Bedard was scratched from his scheduled start against Kansas City on Wednesday because of sore buttocks and missed his bullpen session on Thursday because of the same thing. He canceled again Friday.

Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu has downplayed the severity of Bedard's injury and says Seattle is taking a cautious approach with its top pitcher.

NATIONALS ADD TAVAREZ (8:30 p.m. ET)
Right-hander Julian Tavarez has agreed to a non-guaranteed, minor league contract with the Washington Nationals.

He's the second player the Nationals have brought aboard this week in Viera, Fla., joining Kip Wells as possible help for the bullpen.

The 35-year-old Tavarez is 85-75 with 22 saves and a 4.45 ERA over 16 seasons with 10 clubs in the majors, working as both a starter and reliever.

He went 1-5 with a 5.10 ERA in 52 appearances for Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta in 2008.

MORALES SHOWING SOME POP (7:33 p.m. ET)
Kendry Morales, who'll replace Mark Teixeira as Angels first baseman this season, is hitting .355 in 31 Cactus League at-bats. Morales hit a tape measure grand slam off Chad Gaudin for his first home run of the spring in Los Angeles' 8-2 victory over the Cubs on Friday.

While Morales has only 12 homers in his first 377 major league at-bats, he's coming off an impressive performance in winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

Manager Mike Scioscia will probably hit Bobby Abreu, Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter in the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 spots unless Howie Kendricks works his way into the second spot and bumps everybody back a notch. That means Morales will bat either fifth or sixth in the order.

"He has big power,'' Scioscia said of Morales. "Whether that translates into 15, 20 or 30 home runs is impossible to say. What we need for Kendry is that production. He's going to be up there with a lot of guys on base.''

-- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com

A'S OPTION HERRERA TO TRIPLE-A (3:39 p.m. ET)
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Outfielder Javier Herrera has been optioned from the Oakland Athletics to Triple-A Sacramento.

The 23-year-old went 3-for-6 with a double, two walks and scored twice in seven spring training games for the Athletics.

In 61 games at Double-A Midland a year ago, Herrera hit .267 with nine homers and 36 RBIs. Herrera is a .284 career hitter in five minor league seasons with 48 homers, 208 RBIs and 72 stolen bases in 90 attempts.

BREWERS EXPECT CAMERON BACK SOON (2:40 p.m. ET)
Brewers center fielder Mike Cameron could be swinging a bat as soon as Saturday and is expected to return in a few days from a strained rib cage muscle.

Manager Ken Macha said Friday that Cameron's injury to an intercostal muscle on his left side needs a few days of rest.

Cameron was upbeat in the clubhouse, but wasn't sure when he'd be back in the field after getting hurt during a drill.

"I feel good, but my ribs feel bad," he said.

Cameron, a three-time Gold Glove winner, hit .243 with 25 homers and 70 RBIs last year in his first season in Milwaukee.

ANOTHER VOTE FOR PEDRO (10:49 a.m. ET)
Jose Reyes, back in Mets camp after the World Baseball Classic, was singing the praises of Dominican Republic teammate Pedro Martinez and says the former Mets right-hander would welcome a return to Queens.

"He said he just wants to go somewhere he'd like to be comfortable," Reyes said, according to Newsday. "He'd like to pitch here. To be honest with you guys, he said he'd like to come back here, but I don't know what's the deal here."

The Mets have already said they're not interested in re-signing Martinez. But if they asked Reyes for his opinion, they'd get a ringing endorsement.

"Unbelievable, unbelievable," Reyes said of Martinez, according to Newsday. "He's fantastic. He's loose, comfortable on the mound. He threw a lot of strikes, bro. He throws hard, too. He looked great."

"Last year he had some tightness in his shoulder, but now he looks relaxed," Reyes added, according to the report. "He's ready. Whoever signs him, he's going to do good."

MARINERS SEND DOWN TOP DRAFT PICK FIELDS (10:19 a.m. ET)
Mariners right-hander Josh Fields, the team's first-round draft pick in 2008, was one of five players the team reassigned to its minor league camp Thursday.

Fields has not pitched in a Cactus League game since arriving in camp and has been relegated to side work, though manager Don Wakamatsu hasn't ruled out bringing him back up at some point.

"I was extremely proud of the way he handled himself and impressed," Wakamatsu said.

The move to send Fields down was expected and the 22-year-old didn't seem concerned about not pitching in a game while with the big league club.

The Mariners also sent right-hander Tracy Thorpe, catcher Israel Nunez and infielders Callix Crabbe and Oswaldo Navarro to the minor league camp. The moves leave Seattle with 58 players on its spring training roster.

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