Category archive: Detroit Tigers

PADRES PUSH BACK LATOS' SCHEDULED START (11:47 p.m. ET)

The Padres have pushed back right-hander Mat Latos' scheduled Saturday start because of a sore elbow.

Manager Bud Black says Latos, one of several pitchers battling for two spots in the rotation, will instead throw in the bullpen and that he's already improving.

Latos is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in four appearances this spring. In 14 innings, Latos has allowed nine hits and walked three while striking out 11 batters.

Last season, Latos was 4-5 with a 4.62 ERA in 10 starts until the Padres shut him down in early September to reduce the wear and tear on his arm. Latos had pitched a combined 123 innings between the major and minor leagues after throwing 56 combined innings in 2008.

The Padres have said Latos won't throw more than 150 innings this year.

-- The Associated Press

ROBERTS RETURNS FOR ORIOLES (9:59 p.m. ET)

Second baseman Brian Roberts tested his ailing back in a game Friday night for the first time this spring. Although he showed no sign of injury, his swing still apparently needs some work.

Roberts went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in Baltimore's 4-3 loss to the Twins. Roberts spent the previous six weeks at camp receiving treatment and doing exercises to ease the pain of a herniated disc in his lower back.

"My body, it felt pretty good," he said after his six-inning stint.

And his swing?

"Obviously not stellar," Roberts said. "My last at-bat, actually I started to finally feel a lot more comfortable in the box. My first two, I was pretty clueless."

-- The Associated Press

MOYER BOLSTERS BID FOR STARTING SPOT (9:56 p.m. ET)

Jamie Moyer bolstered his bid to win Philadelphia's fifth starter spot by giving up one hit over 6 2/3 innings in the Phillies' 3-0 victory over the Yankees.

The 47-year-old left-hander is competing with Kyle Kendrick, who has a 1.37 ERA in 19 2/3 innings over five games. Moyer struck out six and hit one batter with a pitch.

"Pretty good," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "Threw good quality strikes down. Even when he missed, he was close. Got a little yo-yo on it every now and then. Back door. Up and down."

Moyer underwent two major offseason surgeries. He had a sports hernia operation in October and underwent another procedure on his left knee in January.

"I really didn't know what to expect because I haven't been through his kind of thing in the past," Moyer said. "So, go wing it and see what happens. Being in this clubhouse with this group of guys, it's a winning environment, it's a winning situation. It's really hard to walk away from."

-- The Associated Press

GRIFFEY HITS GRAND SLAM OFF FORMER TEAM (8:38 p.m. ET)

Junior's still got it. Ken Griffey Jr. hit a grand slam off Kip Wells in the bottom of the ninth inning to give his Mariners a 6-5 victory over his former team, the Reds.

Asked the last time he had hit a game-ending slam in any game -- spring training, during any of his 24 professional seasons, at Cincinnati Moeller High School -- Griffey said, "Never."

Griffey, who has hit 630 home runs in his career, had swung wildly and missed with the count 3-0, looking anxious. On 3-1, he again looked antsy chasing a low pitch.

Then he drove a belt-high fastball from Wells into right-center field. Griffey was grinning as he approached the plate. All the Mariners were waiting with high-fives and back slaps but spared him the joyous pummeling that he got a couple times last season for late-game hits.

"Just one of those things," Griffey said. "It's spring training. Everyone's working on something. I'm starting to be able to do some things [like wait on pitches]. And I happened to get a ball up into the wind tunnel."

-- The Associated Press

JACKSON HAS BEST OUTING OF SPRING TRAINING (8:36 p.m. ET)

After struggling in his last two starts, Diamondbacks right-hander Edwin Jackson had his best outing of spring training. Jackson threw six scoreless innings, allowing five hits with three walks and two strikeouts in Arizona's 10-1 victory over the White Sox.

"His delivery was significantly better," Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch said. "He wasn't jumpy or out of control like he had been his last couple of outings. He was very much in control of the game."

Jackson has worked on his mechanics after allowing seven runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Reds and four runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Giants.

He said he shook off few signs from catcher Chris Snyder.

"I was just finding a rhythm, going out there and keeping a nice tempo, making adjustments from pitch to pitch instead of waiting until the inning snowballed to make an adjustment," said Jackson, Arizona's No. 2 starter behind Dan Haren.

-- The Associated Press

MARMOL MELTS DOWN IN CUBS LOSS (8:33 p.m. ET)

It was a wonderful day of pitching for both the Cubs and Athletics -- until Carlos Marmol took the mound.

"You can't have a perfect day in spring training," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said after a ninth-inning meltdown by his closer helped an A's split squad to a 5-2 victory.

Oakland starter Dallas Braden was outstanding, Chicago's Carlos Zambrano was even better and several relievers excelled, too. Then Marmol, anointed the Cubs' bullpen ace after spending most of three seasons as the primary setup man, served up Travis Buck's tiebreaking homer on his third pitch.

He followed that by hitting Michael Taylor with a pitch and giving up Landon Powell's single. After Cliff Pennington's run-scoring grounder, Marmol yielded pinch-hitter Shane Peterson's RBI single.

In his previous game, Marmol blew a save by allowing a two-run homer. He has hit a batter in three straight outings.

"His mechanics are off," Piniella said. "He was really flat with his pitches and we were wondering why. I think we found something on the tape. He's coming almost sidearm ... and you lose that good snap. It's something to work on. That's why it's called spring training."

-- The Associated Press

LINCECUM LEAVES GAME EARLY (8:21 p.m. ET)

Tim Lincecum left early with a small cut on the middle finger of his pitching hand in the Giants' 5-3 win over the Angels.

The two-time defending NL Cy Young winner had hoped to pitch about six innings but lasted only four, leaving the game with the Giants trailing 1-0. Lincecum threw 84 pitches, giving up a run on six hits while walking two and striking out seven.

The right-hander didn't mention the cut to reporters afterward, but manager Bruce Bochy said it was a combination of the dry Arizona air with Lincecum's grip. Bochy said the same situation also surfaced last spring.

Bochy doesn't expect Lincecum to miss his final start of the spring on March 31, and his ace remains on target to start the season opener at Houston on April 5.

-- The Associated Press

EDMONDS HITS SECOND HOMER OF SPRING (7:53 p.m. ET)

Jim Edmonds hit a two-run homer and an RBI double in the Brewers' 9-4 loss to the Padres. Edmonds' drive off Jon Garland in the second inning was his second homer of the spring. The Gold Glove center fielder made the team Thursday when the Brewers purchased his minor league contract.

Garland pitched five innings, yielding two runs and three hits. He missed his last scheduled start with a balky right shoulder.

Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee's leading candidate to start on Opening Day, had a far less successful outing, allowing six runs and eight hits in three innings.

Gallardo had allowed four runs in 14 innings over his previous four spring appearances.

-- The Associated Press

WESTBROOK WALKS FIVE IN WIN (7:12 p.m. ET)

Opening Day starter Jake Westbrook walked five over four-plus innings during the Indians' 5-4 victory over the Rockies.

Westbrook was charged with two runs and seven hits. He left with a 3-1 lead and the bases loaded. Saul Rivera got out of the jam, allowing one run.

Westbrook is eagerly awaiting his Opening Day assignment -- which will be his first game for Cleveland since May 28, 2008. The right-hander spent all of 2009 recovering from Tommy John surgery.

-- The Associated Press

WRIGHT CONTINUES SOLID SPRING TRAINING (5:56 p.m. ET)

David Wright homered and drove in three runs, continuing his solid spring training for the Mets. Wright hit a solo drive in the third inning for his fourth homer as the Mets and Marlins played to an 8-8 tie, calling it off after neither team scored in the 10th.

Nelson Figueroa had his worst outing of the spring for New York, allowing seven runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Wright's shot made it 5-0 but Florida scored eight runs in the bottom half of the third.

-- The Associated Press

LESTER, RED SOX BULLPEN STRONG (5:03 p.m. ET)

Jon Lester pitched six strong innings in his fifth spring start, helping the Red Sox beat a Blue Jays split-squad 3-2.

Lester allowed two unearned runs and six hits, struck out five and walked two. Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima and Ramon Ramirez finished up with a scoreless inning apiece.

-- The Associated Press

MARCUM HIT HARD; OVERBAY LEAVES (4:57 p.m. ET)

Shaun Marcum, Toronto's scheduled Opening Day starter, was hit hard in the Blue Jays' 14-10 loss to the Rays. Marcum allowed nine runs and nine hits over five innings, raising his spring ERA to 8.10.

Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay departed with a left knee contusion in the top of the first inning after he made contact with Carl Crawford. He is day to day.

-- The Associated Press

LOWE OUTDUELS VERLANDER IN BATTLE OF OPENING DAY STARTERS (4:34 p.m. ET)

Derek Lowe pitched six effective innings to help the Braves beat the Tigers 5-3. Lowe allowed two runs, one earned, and eight hits. Atlanta's scheduled Opening Day starter struck out four and walked none.

Brian McCann raised his average to .500 by going 2-for-3 for the Braves. Nate McLouth had two hits and two RBIs and is 4-for-9 in his past three games after a 1-for-35 start.

Justin Verlander, scheduled to start on Opening Day for Detroit, gave up three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Brandon Inge and Gerald Laird each had two hits for the Tigers.

-- The Associated Press

INDIANS' ROTATION BECOMING NIGHTMARE (2:46 p.m. ET)

Russell Branyan's dream has turned into an Indians nightmare.

Signed to a $2 million free-agent deal in February and immediately made the starting first baseman by new manager Manny Acta, the 34-year-old Branyan has yet to play this spring with less than two weeks until the season opens.

"It's frustrating," said Branyan, sidelined by a herniated disk in his back. "This was my dream come true, to come back to the Indians and play every day. I've never really had that -- maybe for half of last year. I was pretty excited. This wasn't in the plans."

Acta's lineup plans are on hold as he awaits word on Branyan's progress. Until then, two of the Indians' prized prospects, Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley, also are in limbo. Both were acquired in the blockbuster trade that sent 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia to Milwaukee in July 2008.

If Branyan is healthy enough to play first base, LaPorta will go to left field and Brantley most likely back to Triple-A Columbus. Right now, LaPorta, coming off left hip and big toe surgery in October, is playing first base.

-- The Associated Press

CALERO AIMING FOR PROBLEM-FREE SEASON (11:42 a.m. ET)

Kiko Calero is coming off what he calls the best year of his career. Now the Mets' right-handed reliever wants to improve on it by getting through a whole season without shoulder problems.

New York signed Calero to a minor league deal at the beginning of March despite concerns about a right shoulder that has given the 35-year-old trouble since he had shoulder surgery in 2007.

He was 2-2 with a 1.95 ERA for the Marlins last season, striking out 10.35 hitters per nine innings with the help of a biting, 80 mph slider, but he missed 18 games before the All-Star break with shoulder inflammation.

A candidate for the eighth-inning setup role, Calero said on Friday that he is healthy and expects to be ready for the season.

-- The Associated Press

WELLEMEYER UPS BID FOR GIANTS' SPOT (1:06 a.m. ET)

Todd Wellemeyer made another strong start in his bid for the fifth spot in San Francisco's rotation and Aaron Rowand had two hits and drove in a run and the Giants turned away Bay Area rival Oakland 6-3 on Thursday night.

Wellemeyer, a 31-year-old right-hander who is in camp as a non-roster invitee, pitched five innings for the second straight game. He gave up two runs (one earned) and three hits while walking two and striking out four and improved to 3-0.

Rowand, the Giants' leadoff hitter, singled and scored in a two-run third inning and hit an opposite-field double to right to bring home a run in a two-run fourth after Oakland had cut the lead to 2-1. Rowand has a hit in 11 of his 13 games this spring.

John Bowker, making a bid for a reserve outfield spot, had a pair of doubles after homering twice and driving in seven runs in a 7-0 win over Kansas City on Wednesday.

Giants closer Brian Wilson recorded his second save.

-- Associated Press

ROTATION SPOTS STILL UP FOR GRABS (10:14 p.m. ET)

Trying to earn rotation spots, Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman worked out of trouble over 4 1/3 innings, while Washington's J.D. Martin began poorly but finished well, and Johnny Damon's two hits helped a Tigers split squad beat the Nationals 8-2 Thursday night.

Still working his way back from shoulder surgery in 2008, Bonderman allowed five hits and two runs -- one earned. He also threw a wild pitch and walked a batter while recording only one 1-2-3 inning. He's competing with Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson for two openings.

Martin gave up five runs in the first, then retired the last 11 Tigers he faced over five innings.

Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan singled twice and stole two bases in his first game after being sidelined 10 days with a tight right hamstring.

-- Associated Press

PADRES' LEBLANC IMPROVES TO 3-0 (6:33 p.m. ET)

Wade LeBlanc limited the Chicago White Sox to two runs over six innings and the San Diego Padres won for the 10th time in 12 games with a 5-3 victory on Thursday.

LeBlanc, battling for a spot in the Padres' starting rotation, improved to 3-0 and lowered his spring ERA to 1.80 after allowing one earned run with five strikeouts.

Third baseman Chase Headley had two hits and two RBIs for the Padres.

White Sox starting pitcher Mark Buehrle allowed two unearned runs over five innings.

-- Associated Press

KENDRICK KEEPS FIGHTING FOR SPOT (6:12 p.m. ET)

Kyle Kendrick kept his name in the minds of the coaching staff and management as he continues to compete for the fifth starter's job. The 25-year-old right-hander allowed two runs -- one earned -- in 5 2/3 innings in the Phillies' 8-7 win over the Houston Astros.

"Obviously, you want to hear something, but it'll come down to the wire," Kendrick said. "They don't have to make a decision now. Like I've said before and like I've said all spring, it's out of my hands."

Kendrick is competing with 47-year-old Jamie Moyer for the final spot in the rotation. Moyer is scheduled to start Friday night when the Phillies travel to Tampa to take on the New York Yankees.

-- Associated Press

BERGESEN GETTING FORM BACK (6:06 p.m. ET)

Brad Bergesen got the confidence boost he needed -- at the expense of the defending world champion New York Yankees.

Bergesen took a shutout into the sixth inning, and the Baltimore Orioles got a home run from Adam Jones in an 8-0 victory Thursday.

Bergesen allowed three hits, walked two and struck out two in 5 2/3 innings. Both his strikeouts came against Alex Rodriguez.

"Today was the best I felt," Bergesen said. "Going up against the Yankees and being able to go 5 2/3 helped out, built some confidence."

Bergesen missed the final two months of his rookie season last year after being struck in the shin by a line drive. During the offseason he injured his shoulder during a commercial shoot and was forced to sit out the first 10 days of spring training camp.

-- Associated Press

ANGELS SCRATCH LHP KAZMIR (5:37 p.m. ET)

Los Angeles Angels lefty Scott Kazmir was scratched from his scheduled start Thursday against the Texas Rangers because of tightness in the deltoid muscle near his pitching shoulder.

Manager Mike Scioscia told reporters in Tempe, Ariz., that the injury, caused by fatigue in the deltoid muscle near his shoulder, should not affect Kazmir's ability to start the season on time. He is slated to open April 8 against the Oakland Athletics.

-- ESPN.com news services

WILLIS DISPLAYS COMMAND OF PITCHES (4:33 p.m. ET)

Dontrelle Willis overcame a shaky start and allowed just one run in four innings Thursday to lead the Detroit Tigers past the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-1.

Willis, who is competing for one of the final two spots in the Tigers' rotation with Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman, walked three, but allowed only one hit. His spring training ERA rose to 1.20.

Willis walked the first two Blue Jays of the game and worked out of a jam with runners on second and third to retire the side.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland wouldn't speculate on his opening day rotation, but said that he was pleased with Willis' command of his pitches, not his control.

-- The Associated Press

MATSUZAKA GOES TWO INNINGS FOR RED SOX (3:54 p.m. ET)

Daisuke Matsuzaka made his first appearance of spring training, coming on in relief of starter Tim Wakefield, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Florida Marlins 6-4 on Thursday.

Matsuzaka, whose spring has been delayed by back and neck ailments, pitched two innings, giving up a run on two hits after Wakefield allowed three runs on six hits with two walks in six innings.

In his fifth start of the spring, Chris Volstad went 4 1/3 innings for Florida, giving up four runs -- one earned -- on eight hits with three strikeouts and no walks.

Dan Uggla hit a two-run homer for the Marlins, his second home run of spring training.

-- The Associated Press

KINSLER HOPES TO PLAY MONDAY (10:36 a.m. ET)

Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, who is recovering from a right high ankle sprain, hit off a tee on Monday. He has yet to put any pressure on his ankle while running, but is still targeting a Monday return to game action.

"I'm trying to keep a bat in my hands as much as possible," Kinsler said. "It's just a matter of getting the timing down. The key is seeing as many off-speed pitches as I can. So that's what I'm hoping to do."

-- Richard Durrett, ESPNDallas.com

YANKEES RELEASE RIGHT-HANDER GAUDIN (10:32 a.m. ET)

The New York Yankees have released pitcher Chad Gaudin, who was one of five candidates for the fifth starter spot.

New York general manager Brian Cashman made the announcement on Thursday.

Gaudin went 2-0 with a 3.43 ERA in 11 games, including six starts, with the Yankees last season.

Also, Alex Rodriguez declined comment for the second straight day on his pending meeting with federal investigators regarding his possible connection to a Canadian physician.

The Yankees third baseman is scheduled to meet with officials Friday in Buffalo, N.Y.

-- The Associated Press

SILVA SOLIDIFIES PLACE IN CUBS' ROTATION (6:30 p.m. ET)
Carlos Silva solidified his claim on a spot in the Cubs' rotation with four shutout innings and Xavier Nady had a two-run double Tuesday, leading Chicago to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.

Silva allowed two singles, hit a batter and struck out three in his sharpest outing. Acquired from Seattle for Milton Bradley with two years and $25 million left on his contract, the righty has pitched seven scoreless innings since getting hit hard in his first game.

Nady's RBIs were his first since signing a $3.3 million contract to back up all three outfield positions. He has been limited to DH duties while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm. He doubled again in the eighth.

-- The Associated Press

TURNBOW SUFFERS SHOULDER PAIN, SAYS MARLINS SHOT 'OVER' (5:57 p.m. ET)
Former All-Star closer Derrick Turnbow says his chances of making the Florida Marlins are "over" after he left Tuesday's game with severe shoulder pain.

Turnbow said he was sure he would "be shut down for a while." He exited Florida's 12-3 victory against the Nationals in the eighth inning.

Turnbow walked one batter and hit another before walking off the mound with the team trainer. He will undergo an MRI on Wednesday and said surgery was a possibility.

The hard-throwing right-hander had 39 saves in 2005 for the Brewers and pitched in the 2006 All-Star Game. He hasn't pitched in the majors since 2008.

He threw 10 pitches Tuesday. As he threw a pitch that hit Danny Espinosa, Turnbow buckled on the mound.

-- The Associated Press

YANKEES HIRE FORMER PADRES GM TOWERS AS SCOUT (4:12 p.m. ET)
Former San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers has been hired as a special assignment scout by the New York Yankees.

Towers was fired by the Padres during the final weekend of the 2009 season after 14 years as their GM.

Towers will scout both professional leagues and amateur players, and evaluate the Yankees' minor league system.

-- The Associated Press

MARINERS PROSPECT ACKLEY HEADED TO DOUBLE-A (3:04 p.m. ET)
The Seattle Mariners have sent second overall draft choice Dustin Ackley to Double-A West Tennessee, where the impressive 22-year-old will likely begin his first full professional season.

Last August, the Mariners and Ackley agreed on a five-year major league contract worth $7.5 million. Seattle has since tried the sweet-swinging former first baseman and outfielder at North Carolina at second base.

He had three hits in 19 at-bats (a .158 batting average) with three RBIs and one error in 10 spring games.

The Mariners have said they expect Ackley to reach the major leagues soon, though he was expected to begin this season in the minors.

Seattle also optioned outfielder Ezequiel Carrera to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday.

-- The Associated Press

NATIONALS' DUNN LEAVES GAME WITH BACK SPASM (2:56 p.m. ET)
Washington Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn left Tuesday's split-squad game against the Florida Marlins after two innings because of a spasm in his lower back.

Dunn made an error in the second inning when he bobbled a grounder in the hole by Logan Morrison. Dunn flied out in the bottom half of the inning and left the game.

A team spokesman said the slugger was day-to-day.

-- The Associated Press

DOMBROWSKI TALKS TIGERS TOPICS (1:54 p.m. ET)
Detroit Tigers CEO, president and general manager Dave Dombrowski weighed in on several Tigers topics on Tuesday morning. Among the highlights:

• Dombrowski called pitcher Dontrelle Willis (7 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts this spring) "a pleasant surprise."

Why? "Because he's thrown strikes more consistently. He worked very hard this winter. And his stuff is fine. ... But the best part is, he's throwing the ball over the plate on a consistent basis."

• Dombrowski said rookie center fielder Austin Jackson (.429 average, .515 on-base percentage) "looks like an every-day player on the big league level. He can go get the ball. He's a quality guy. He works very hard. And offensively, if he keeps doing this all year, we'll be in good shape."

• Dombrowski said Magglio Ordonez "is swinging the bat as well as I've ever seen him swing it in the past. He's driving the ball. But he's done that since the very first day he reported. ... I think the ball has a different sound coming off the bat now, like it has in the past."

-- ESPN.com senior baseball writer Jayson Stark

INDIANS OBTAIN PITCHER FROM BREWERS (12:44 p.m. ET)
The Cleveland Indians have acquired right-hander Omar Aguilar from the Milwaukee Brewers.

In return for the 25-year-old, the Brewers are keeping left-hander Chuck Lofgren. Milwaukee selected him in the Rule 5 Draft in December. To send Lofgren to their minor league system, the Brewers had to work out a deal with Cleveland or offer him back to the Indians for half the $50,000 they paid in the draft.

The 24-year-old Lofgren went a combined 9-11 with a 4.15 ERA between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus in the Indians' system in 2009.

Aguilar split 2009 between Class A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville. He went 3-1 with a 4.72 ERA and 14 saves. He will report to the Indians' minor league camp.

-- The Associated Press

WHITE SOX CLOSER JENKS DOWNPLAYS BULLPEN SESSION (9:22 a.m. ET)
Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, coming off a calf muscle injury that shut him down last September, threw a 50-pitch bullpen session on Monday night.

Jenks had been scheduled to throw an inning against the Kansas City Royals. But he says there should be no cause for alarm over the decision to throw in the bullpen instead.

''It's the reason we went out there,'' Jenks told reporters. ''It was necessary to get to the point where we could make sure there was nothing wrong."

''I'm excited about where I am physically and mentally, being able to locate and being down with the ball," Jenks said. ''Where I am now, with a few more sessions like this, the game will become not easy but easier.''

-- ESPN.com news services

ORIOLES CONSIDERING PLAN B AT SECOND (9:09 a.m. ET)
The Baltimore Orioles are facing the possibility that second baseman Brian Roberts might not be ready for Opening Day, due to a herniated disk in his lower back.

Roberts was expected to return to Orioles camp in Sarasota on Monday after undergoing an exam from a back specialist and receiving an epidural injection to help address the discomfort, The (Baltimore) Sun reported. He has yet to play in a spring training game and the team is waiting to see how he responds to treatment.

The team is considering possible trades to fill the position until Roberts returns, though there have not been extensive talks, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said, according to the report.

Manager Dave Trembley says Ty Wigginton, Robert Andino and Justin Turner could fill the void at second base until Roberts returns.

"We need to do what we can with what we have right here in camp," Trembley said, according to The Sun. "If something happens from outside the camp, we'll deal with it then. We still like to believe that Roberts will be our guy, but we're at the point now where we have to start thinking about the possibility and what we can do elsewhere."

-- ESPN.com news services

CHAPMAN PITCHES TWO SCORELESS INNINGS (6:20 p.m. ET)

Aroldis Chapman struck out two over two scoreless innings and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 on Friday.

Chapman allowed just two infield singles. His strikeouts came on the last two batters he faced, overpowering Matt Kemp on a high fastball and getting Casey Blake looking.

Chapman defected from Cuba last year and agreed to a $30.25 million, six-year contract with the Reds in January. The left-hander has allowed three hits over four scoreless innings in two spring outings.

-- Associated Press

GIAMBI GETS DEFENSIVE IN DEBUT (6:03 p.m. ET)

Jason Giambi made his spring training debut Friday, flying out to center and taking a pitch off the forearm in the Colorado Rockies' 9-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

Giambi also made a diving stop at first base, a play he might have missed out on had he followed through with his original plan of being a designated hitter with an American League team this spring.

Instead, he opted to sign a one-year deal with Colorado as a fill-in at first for Todd Helton and a pinch hitter.

Todd Wellemeyer pitched four scoreless innings for the Giants, allowing just two hits. Nate Schierholtz and Buster Posey each drove in two runs.

Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa went four innings, giving up one earned run.

-- Associated Press

HARDY, HUDSON GETTING ACQUAINTED (5:37 p.m. ET)

Shortstop J.J. Hardy and second baseman Orlando Hudson, the Minnesota Twins' new double-play combination, are getting acquainted.

The two are being paired during spring training so they can learn each other's tendencies around the middle of the infield. Even though they have yet to turn a double play in four exhibition games, both Hardy and Hudson said they expect their new working arrangement to go smoothly.

Hardy was acquired in a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers, while Hudson signed with the Twins as a free agent. Minnesota is Hudson's fourth major league team.

-- Associated Press

BRAVES' JURRJENS FINALLY MAKES DEBUT (5:26 p.m. ET)

Atlanta Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens managed to make his spring debut, anyway.

Jurrjens threw two scoreless innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday before the game was called after three due to showers that washed away the exhibition slate in Florida.

Jurrjens had been struggling with inflammation around his right shoulder and manager Bobby Cox decided to be cautious. Jurrjens, who turned 24 in January, went 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA for the Braves last season.

Jurrjens was supposed to start Wednesday against the New York Yankees, but the game was called due to rain. He made the 90-mile bus ride to Tampa and said it was tough to get back into his rhythm for a second straight day, but he said his arm felt fine.

-- Associated Press

WEEKS PAINED TO PLAY WITHOUT HARDY (4:25 p.m. ET)

Rickie Weeks is eager to resume his career, but he's not exactly looking forward to Opening Day.

The Brewers second baseman hasn't played since tearing the sheath of a tendon in his left wrist in May. When he takes the field next month, his double-play partner at shortstop, J.J. Hardy, won't be there.

Hardy was traded in the offseason to the Twins for center fielder Carlos Gomez in a move that made way for Alcides Escobar. Weeks says he and the rookie Escobar will make a strong combination, too.

Weeks says he'll hurt a little because he and Hardy were close and that they've talked during spring training.

Brewers manager Ken Macha thinks Weeks looks the same despite injuries that have cost him parts of the last four years.

-- Associated Press

PETTITTE TOSSING STRIKES (3:06 p.m. ET)

Andy Pettitte peered over his raised black glove for a sign from the catcher, shook him off, nodded "OK," then froze Jimmy Rollins with a changeup for strike three.

Vintage Pettitte.

Too bad the sequence took place in a batting cage under the stands at Steinbrenner Field -- and Philadelphia's Rollins was nowhere to be found.

Torrential rains forced the New York Yankees' bus to turn around about an hour into the trip to Viera on Friday, and Pettitte's first scheduled start of spring training was turned into another simulated outing.

"I got my normal warm-up in, and then I got all my throws in and I'm tired," Pettitte said. "That's the biggest thing, I wanted to make sure I was good and fatigued. Obviously, I would've loved to face hitters but the way the weather's been I had to get my work in here today."

After a two-inning simulated outing on a back field Sunday, Pettitte went three innings Friday and threw 50 pitches, mixing in several breaking balls.

-- Associated Press

TIGERS' PITCHING WEATHERS RAIN (2:58 p.m. ET)

Tigers manager Jim Leyland might complain about the weather if he thought it would do any good.

"It's not OK, but it's OK," Leyland said after Friday's exhibition game against the Philadelphia Phillies was rained out. "You can't do anything about it so you just do the best you can.

"Obviously we've got a lot of work to do. I think the next 10 days or so are going to be critical for us in the pitching area. It's actually OK for some guys to get a little blow, but other guys it's not."

Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson, candidates for open spots in Detroit's pitching rotation, had been scheduled to pitch Friday. They will pitch instead in Saturday's split-squad game against the New York Yankees.

"The plan is to have Bonderman, Robertson and [Dontrelle] Willis, not necessarily in that order, pitch three innings apiece here, and [Max] Scherzer will pitch in the road," Leyland said. "So we'll have all four of those guys pitching and that's good." Scherzer and Ryan Perry will be among the pitchers traveling to Port St. Lucie to face the New York Mets.

-- Associated Press

RED SOX, CARDINALS JUGGLE ROTATION (2:55 p.m. ET)

The St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox will adjust their pitching plans after rain forced the postponement of Friday's spring training game.

Boston and St. Louis will split their squads on March 22, adding a game in Jupiter and "B" games on Saturday against their minor leaguers.

Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz, scheduled to start Friday, will start Saturday's "A" game against the Pirates in Fort Myers. Michael Bowden follows Buchholz.

Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols is expected to return to the lineup Saturday after missing about a week to nurse an ailing lower back, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Cardinals right-hander Rich Hill, scheduled to start Friday, will start the "B" game on Saturday and right-hander Chris Carpenter will keep his regular scheduled start at 1:05 p.m. against Houston on the main field.

The Red Sox are playing Tampa Bay in Fort Myers on March 22 and the Cardinals have a game in Kissimmee against the Astros.

-- ESPN.com news services

ORIOLES' JOHNSON HOPES FOR REVIVAL IN EIGHTH (2:43 p.m. ET)

After struggling when given a chance to replace George Sherrill as closer during the second half of last season, Jim Johnson hopes for a revival now that he's back to a set-up role for the Baltimore Orioles.

"When I took over for George last season, I probably tried to overdo it," Johnson said. "That never really leads to success."

Johnson blew three of his 11 save chances in the ninth-inning role after Sherrill was traded to Los Angeles, and Baltimore signed Mike Gonzalez during the offseason to become its closer.

"We all understand what Mike was brought here for," Johnson said, "and that's fine."

A starter in the minor leagues, Johnson was converted to a reliever two years ago. He didn't allow a run in his first 10 appearances and he didn't allow a home run all season.

His finished 2-4 with a 2.23 ERA in 2008 but slumped to 4-6 with a 4.11 ERA last year, when he allowed eight homers and failed to convert six of 16 save chances.

"He will be himself. He will be effective as an eighth-inning guy as opposed to a closer," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "He did try to do a little more than he should have when he was the closer. I think he'll be better suited for the eighth inning."

-- The Associated Press

RAYS STILL SPRING'S WINNINGEST TEAM (2:28 p.m. ET)

The Phillies-Rays spring training game has been canceled because of rain.

Friday's cancellation means Tampa Bay's franchise-record streak of nine straight exhibition wins will remain intact at least another day. The Rays are scheduled to host the Florida Marlins in Port Charlotte on Saturday.

-- The Associated Press

K-ROD'S PITCHING SESSION ON HOLD (12:16 p.m. ET)

The cancellation of the Mets-Twins spring training game has forced New York closer Francisco Rodriguez to postpone pitching to live batters.

Rodriguez said Friday he expects to throw to live hitters Saturday in what should be the final step before pitching in a spring training game.

Rodriguez has yet to pitch to hitters this spring after dealing with a case of conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pinkeye. He plans to wear prescription goggles under doctors' orders, though he said he feels fine.

Rodriguez said he needs to get back on the mound so he can determine what he needs to improve before Opening Day.

-- The Associated Press

MARLINS-ORIOLES RAINED OUT (11:24 a.m. ET)

Rain has forced the cancellation of the Florida-Baltimore exhibition game.

The announcement Friday came two hours before the scheduled start. The game will not be made up.

The Marlins traveled from Jupiter for games Friday in Sarasota and Saturday in Port Charlotte against Tampa Bay. The Orioles were scheduled to start Jeremy Guthrie, and Florida was to start Andrew Miller.

To give pitchers extra work, Baltimore added a split-squad game Sunday at Pittsburgh's minor league complex, Pirate City in Bradenton.

-- The Associated Press

YANKEES-NATIONALS WASHED OUT (10:12 a.m. ET)

Heavy rains washed out Friday's scheduled exhibition game between New York and Washington.

A sellout crowd was expected at Space Coast Stadium for the defending World Series champions' only visit of the spring. The Yankees were already en route from Tampa when informed of the cancellation early Friday. Water had collected in some areas of the outfield before the decision was made to call the game.

It's the second consecutive rainout for the Nationals, who were planning to start right-hander Jason Marquis against Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte.

The Nationals reassigned catcher Devin Ivany and first baseman Josh Whitesell to their minor league camp.

-- The Associated Press

BONDERMAN STRUGGLES WITH CONTROL (7:30 p.m. ET)
Jeremy Bonderman struggled with his control again, and this time it hurt him.

Bonderman failed to make it out of the first inning in his second spring start, yielding Randy Ruiz's grand slam in the Detroit Tigers' 8-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.

"Rough day, to say the least," Bonderman said. "I'm just having a hard time with sinkers running off the plate and diving and staying down, which is good. But I've got to figure a way to throw consistently where I want. I was trying to throw it over the plate."

When he got it over the plate, "it was right down the middle," he said.

Bonderman recorded just two outs and was charged with six runs and six hits. Jose Bautista connected for a leadoff homer, Ruiz went deep and Travis Snyder hit his 36th and last pitch for a sacrifice fly.

Bonderman missed most of the last two years because of a blood clot in his right shoulder that required surgery. He is entering the final season of a $38 million, four-year contract.

"There's five, six guys fighting for two jobs," said Bonderman, who won 14 games in 2005 and 2006. "Until [manager Jim Leyland] comes up to me and says 'It's your job,' I don't think I have a job. Just 'cause you're under a contract doesn't mean anything."

-- The Associated Press

HAPP, AUMONT PITCH WELL FOR PHILLIES (7:10 p.m. ET)
J.A. Happ and Phillippe Aumont felt better after their second spring outings.

Happ and Aumont combined for five scoreless innings in the Philadelphia Phillies' 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

Happ allowed two hits, walked two and struck out two in 2 1/3 innings. Aumont replaced him in the third and gave up two hits in 2 2-3 innings, bouncing back after yielding five runs in an exhibition game against Florida State on Wednesday night.

"I was a little more consistent with mechanics and I was able to throw more strikes," said Aumont, one of three prospects acquired by the Phillies in the Cliff Lee trade. "We've been working the last few days on some stuff and it paid off."

Happ, who finished second in last year's voting for the NL Rookie of the Year, threw two shutout innings against the Seminoles but said he felt better after facing Tampa Bay.

"I just need to get reps," he said. "With more reps, that's how you pick up your comfort level."

-- The Associated Press

ROCKIES' KENNEDY STRONG IN APPEARANCE (6:56 p.m. ET)
Ian Kennedy has shown promise in the minor leagues. The Diamondbacks are hoping he can finally bring that success to the big league level.

Kennedy got off to a positive start Sunday, throwing two scoreless innings in a 9-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies. The game between split squads was called because of rain after 5½ innings.

Kennedy said he threw all his pitches, including two curveballs, but focused on his fastball command. He allowed two hits and walked one. The 25-year-old right-hander is expected to be Arizona's No. 4 starter.

Last season, Kennedy's season was cut short by an aneurysm under his right armpit. He pitched one major league inning and 22 2/3 innings in the minors. He has a 19-6 record and 1.95 ERA in the minors compared to a 1-4 record and 6.03 ERA in 59 2/3 big league innings.

"Here, they've said from the get-go, I still have to prove myself, but the doors are open for me," Kennedy said.

-- The Associated Press

METS' PEREZ, NATS' MARQUIS STRUGGLE IN FIRST STARTS (4:45 p.m. ET)
Oliver Perez looked shaky in his first spring start, but Omir Santos hit an inside-the-park grand slam to help the Mets beat the Nationals 6-5 on Sunday in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Perez, coming off a terrible 2009, allowed five runs and seven hits in three innings. The notoriously wild left-hander issued just one walk and struck out two.

Jason Marquis, who signed a free-agent deal with Washington in the offseason, also had a rough start in his first spring game. He gave up five runs and three hits in two innings.

Santos hit a drive into the left-field corner in the second that Willy Taveras signaled was out of play after trying to retrieve it. The umpire ruled it was in play as Santos circled the bases.

-- The Associated Press

PADRES' SCOTT HAIRSTON DAY TO DAY WITH BRUISED HAND (4:28 p.m. ET)
Padres outfielder Scott Hairston, who was hit on the hand by a pitch Saturday in a loss to the Mariners, is day to day with a bruised left hand.

He said he's already seeing improvement. Hairston said he had full strength in his hand though he planned to take the day off.

"The look of it made me nervous," Hairston said. "Right now it's very early in spring training. It's not necessary to push things right now. I just want to make sure it's right."

Padres manager Bud Black had a brief conversation with Hairston in the morning and believes he will return soon.

Also, Padres right-hander Jon Garland said he felt good enough to avoid treatment a day after he was struck on the inside of the left knee by a line drive.

-- The Associated Press

RAYS GIVE DH BURRELL A SHIFT IN LEFT FIELD (4:11 p.m. ET)
The Tampa Bay Rays did something Sunday they did only once all last season: They played DH Pat Burrell in the outfield.

Burrell started in left field against his old team, the Phillies, after suggesting to manager Joe Maddon that he'd like an opportunity to play in the field more often.

While Carl Crawford is set in left field, the Rays are still trying to figure out who's going to be their right fielder. But Maddon said Sunday he didn't foresee Burrell playing regularly in right.

"I'm not going to play him in the outfield if I think we're better suited not to have him play in the outfield," the manager said. "You look at our team defensively ... and we really pride ourselves on that. We think that's a big part of our success, because obviously, we have some really good defenders out there. I'm not saying he can't get out there. We'll see how the season plays out. But for right now, he's the DH."

Burrell's take: "I'm here as a player, and what they call on me to do, I do. I'd like to create as many options for them as I can. And playing the outfield is an option. But if it's not, it's not."

-- Jayson Stark, ESPN.com

SS WILSON, CF GUTIERREZ LIKELY BACK FOR MARINERS (2:40 p.m. ET)
Shortstop Jack Wilson and center fielder Franklin Gutierrez are expected to be back in the lineup when the Mariners play a pair of spring games Monday in Arizona.

Wilson left Seattle's 9-3 loss to San Diego on Friday when he felt tightness in his right hamstring. Gutierrez has been hampered by a sore right shoulder and will make his first spring start when the Mariners play Milwaukee and the Chicago White Sox in split-squad games Monday.

Closer David Aardsma, who strained his groin Thursday against San Diego, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Monday.

-- The Associated Press

INDIANS WON'T BABY WESTBROOK (2:09 p.m. ET)
The Indians and Rangers were rained out Sunday, pushing Jake Westbrook's first spring training start back to Monday. He's scheduled to throw two innings or 30 pitches against the Diamondbacks in Tucson.

Westbrook, 32, won 44 games and averaged 213 innings a season for Cleveland from 2004 through 2006 before the injuries hit. He underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in May 2008, and made two unsuccessful attempts to come back last season.

But Westbrook made four starts in winter ball in Puerto Rico, and the Indians don't plan to coddle him this spring.

"I expect Jake Westbrook to be good the way he was before,'' manager Manny Acta said Sunday. "I don't understand why there is so much uncertainty around him when just about every staff has a guy or two who's had Tommy John surgery. Why do we have to be so cautious or negative about Jake? Tommy John [surgery] is as common as your everyday dentist's visit in baseball now.''

The Indians are looking at Westbrook, Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson as their top three starters. Aaron Laffey, David Huff, Mitch Talbot and Carlos Carrasco are the prime candidates for the final two spots in the rotation. Jeremy Sowers is currently rehabbing from a shoulder injury.

-- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com

BLUE JAYS LHP CECIL TO MAKE SPRING DEBUT WEDNESDAY (1:01 p.m. ET)
Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil says he will make his spring debut Wednesday, one week after he cut his left thumb while "chopping up chickens."

Cecil says he will pitch against the Phillies when they travel to Dunedin, Fla., to face Toronto. Cecil went 7-4 with a 5.30 ERA in 18 games, 17 starts, last year as a rookie and is trying to earn a spot in the Blue Jays' rotation.

Cecil, 23, was scheduled to debut Thursday against Detroit. He has been playing catch since shortly after the injury and is expected to throw a bullpen session Monday.

-- The Associated Press

THAT'S A GOOD HEAD ON KURODA's SHOULDERS (7:34 p.m. ET)
Dodgers manager Joe Torre has been impressed with pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, especially with his resiliency. Kuroda spent just 21 days on the disabled list last year after getting hit on the front right side of his head by a comebacker and suffering a concussion.

"For him to come back as quickly as he did -- and he did have some testers during rehab with a line drive through the middle and a broken bat that came toward him -- I thought he recovered from that well," Torre said.

Kuroda figures to be the Dodgers' No. 3 starter this season behind Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley as he enters the final year of a three-year $35.3 million contract. On Thursday, he will have an extended throwing session before making his debut in a spring game Tuesday.

"I just have to keep moving forward. I can't give up," Kuroda said. "This game is my destiny so I just have to move forward."
-- The Associated Press

FANS, AND A LEGEND, LINE UP FOR LINCECUM (7:08 p.m. ET)
San Francisco Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum, the NL Cy Young Award in back-to-back seasons, had a not-so-Cy outing in his spring debut against the Seattle Mariners.

Lincecum gave up three runs -- two earned -- on two hits while throwing 33 pitches in one inning. But fans didn't care about the numbers. They just wanted to see him pitch and get an autograph from the 25-year-old who signed a two-year, $23 million contract just days before reporting to camp.

Lincecum obliged for dozens of fans on his way to the visitors' clubhouse at the Peoria Sports Complex. Later he sat on a stool in front of his corner dressing stall in the clubhouse, where he was surrounded by a large group of reporters. A member of the Mariners infiltrated the group, extended his arm and shook Lincecum's hand.

"What's up?" center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. said.
-- The Associated Press

HUDSON, HEYWARD LOOK SHARP (5:09 p.m. ET)
Tim Hudson pitched two sharp innings and rookie Jason Heyward doubled and scored as the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 9-5 in a Grapefruit League game.

Hudson missed most of the 2009 season after recovering from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander said he threw pain-free against the Mets and went to the bullpen for more tossing after facing only six batters.

Heyward, a 20-year-old outfielder considered by many the best prospect in baseball, walked twice, singled and stole a base Tuesday against the Mets in their exhibition opener.
-- The Associated Press

BONDERMAN SIGHT FOR SORE TIGERS EYES (4:42 p.m. ET)

Jeremy Bonderman pitched two shutout innings in the Tigers' 7-6 exhibition win over the Blue Jays after missing most of the last two seasons because of a blood clot in his right shoulder that required surgery.

"I was just all over the place. The adrenaline got me out of sync a little bit," Bonderman said. "I was able to get out of it and (in) the second inning I just kind of tried to stay within myself and work on using the mechanics I've been working on, just trying to stay on top of the ball and let my arm catch up."

Bonderman, a 14-game winner in 2005 and again in 2006, and winner of 11 in 2007 before having surgery in June '08, struck out three and allowed one hit. He allowed a single and a walk to the first two batters he faced before striking out Adam Lind and, after a double steal, striking out Vernon Wells and getting Lyle Overbay on a routine grounder. He had a 1-2-3 second inning.
-- The Associated Press

HARANG TO START OPENING DAY FOR REDS (2:01 p.m. ET)
For the fifth straight season, right-hander Aaron Harang will be the Cincinnati Reds' Opening Day starting pitcher.

Manager Dusty Baker said he wrestled with the decision, but chose Harang instead of Bronson Arroyo after talking it over with both pitchers. The Reds open at home on Monday, April 5 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The honor ties Harang with Pete Donahue (1923-27) and Mario Soto (1982-86) for the most consecutive Opening Day starts in team history. Soto holds the club record with six Opening Day starts overall.

Harang was excited about the news, but said he believed Arroyo deserved the honor. Opening Day is a big annual event in Cincinnati, with a downtown parade and on-field pregame ceremonies.

"You have to have a different approach with all the hoopla," Harang said. "After you've done it once, you know how to do it."

Harang is 1-3 in his previous four Opening Day starts. He got the win over the Cubs in 2007, and took losses against the Mets in 2009, the Diamondbacks in 2008 and the Cubs in 2006.
-- ESPN.com news services

JAYS' MARCUM, MCGOWAN PROGRESSING (12:29 p.m. ET)
The Blue Jays appear to be very encouraged by the progress of two injured pitchers from 2009, Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan.

The ball "is really coming out of Marcum's hand," said manager Cito Gaston. And McGowan, at times this spring, has shown some of the dominant stuff that he had two years ago.

The Jays have three potential closers in camp with Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor and Scott Downs. Gaston said spring training will determine who will close, but said he could mix and match with all three of them in the late innings.
-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

COMPETITION GOOD IN PIRATES CAMP (12:25 p.m. ET)
The Pirates have a lot of competition in camp, "and competition is good," said manager John Russell.

Jeff Clement will be given the first shot to win the job at first base, but if he doesn't play well enough, the Pirates can play Ryan Church in right field and move Garrett Jones from right field to first, which is his most natural position.

Lastings Milledge is scheduled to be the everyday left fielder, but only if he takes the job this spring. He came to camp in better shape, and said he is taking nothing for granted.

Several positions could change if 23-year-old third baseman Pedro Alvarez continues to progress. He has one year in pro ball, and has never played at Triple-A, but he could be up sometime this summer.
-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

GIANTS' SANCHEZ DOUBTFUL FOR OPENING DAY (10:27 a.m. ET)
San Francisco Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez is not expecting to pick up a baseball bat for another week or two as he recovers from shoulder surgery, making it unlikely that he will be ready for Opening Day.

"I would agree with that because I'm missing a lot of time," Sanchez said Tuesday, according to the San Jose Mercury-News. "The closer we get, the harder it is to [envision] getting back by then."

Manager Bruce Bochy agrees with that assessment.

"I'd go with very doubtful," Bochy said, according to the report. "As much as he's moving along, that would be rushing him. We'd have concerns about that. And besides, we're covered. We have experienced guys to help out there."

The Giants could use Juan Uribe or Mark DeRosa at second until Sanchez is ready to return.
-- ESPN.com news services

CABRERA OPENS UP ABOUT ALCOHOL USE (10:16 a.m. ET)
Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera says an inability to handle stress or communicate with those who care about him led him to use alcohol.

Cabrera, who sought help and gave up drinking after an embarrassing alcohol-related incident at the end of last season, told reporters that he held things inside instead and was ill-prepared to handle the pressures of the game.

"Everything was built up inside of me," Cabrera said. "I was angry at everybody."

"I would talk to nobody," Cabrera added. "But now, I go talk with my wife and my dad and go into everything. But I would talk to nobody, and so most people didn't know me.

"Now, I have conversations and I feel better. I communicate better. People can get to know me, and what's inside of me," he said.
-- ESPN.com news services

Spring Training Blog: Feb. 28

February, 28, 2010
02/28/10
10:20
AM ET
GUILLEN IN, BLOOMQUIST OUT FOR ROYALS (6:12 p.m. ET)
Jose Guillen is ready to play for the Kansas City Royals. Willie Bloomquist is not.

Guillen, who had ankle and lower back surgery after his final game on Sept. 2, is penciled in to play in the outfield for the Royals on Wednesday in an intrasquad game.

"I talked to Jose about that today," Royals manager Trey Hillman said Sunday. "I gave him a heads up. I got him in one of the projected lineups in right field. He's said he's good to go."

The Royals want to see how Guillen, who hit .242 with nine home runs last season in only 81 games, is moving after the two operations. With the addition of outfielders Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel, Guillen will likely get the bulk of his at-bats as the designated hitter.

Bloomquist played in more games (125) and had more at-bats (434) last year with the Kansas City Royals than he had in his previous six seasons with the Seattle Mariners.

It took a toll.

The day after the season ended Bloomquist had arthroscopic surgery on both knees. He was on crutches for six weeks and spent most of the winter rehabbing at the Royals complex in Surprise.

The Royals have limited Bloomquist's activities in spring training and he won't be playing in any of the early exhibition games.

-- The Associated Press

ROBERTS TAKES BP (4:41 p.m. ET)
Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts took live batting practice for the first time this spring on Sunday, but manager Dave Trembley said he still isn't sure when Roberts, who has a herniated disk in his back, will play in a game.

Trembley said he'll wait for the trainers to give him the go-ahead before he gets Roberts any game action. In the meantime, "I can't put a timetable on it," Trembley said.

The Orioles have continued to portray Roberts' back issues as minor, but they've held Roberts back from normal spring activities. He reported back pain about a month before spring training and was diagnosed as having a small herniated disk a week ago. He is still expected to be ready for Opening Day.

"He's moving right along," Trembley said. "That [live BP] was the last phase. He's done everything else."

-- Jayson Stark, ESPN.com

CAMERON HURTS GROIN, SITS (4:28 p.m. ET)
Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron was forced to cut his morning short after he tweaked his groin during drills.

The outfielders were working out on Field 1 at the Player Development Complex when Cameron told Red Sox first base coach Ron Johnson that his groin was bothering him. Johnson told Cameron to go see Francona, who immediately told the outfielder to get off the field.

"He's felt it the last couple of days," said Francona. "During outfield drills today, he said something to RJ and RJ sent him over to me. Because we were getting pretty active with the relays, I told him to come in and get treatment. I don't think it's anything. He tested it out and his strength was good, his range of motion was good. But it's not something we want to make worse now."

Cameron received treatment and said he's fine.

"I just need to slow my pace down a little bit and let my body catch up," he said. "I just felt like I couldn't get loose today and I didn't want to push it too much."

-- Joe McDonald, ESPNBoston.com

LYON CLOSER TO MOUND (4:26 p.m. ET)
Astros reliever Brandon Lyon is getting close to returning to the mound after having a cyst in his right, throwing shoulder drained in January.

"They think, from a health standpoint, he's fine and he just needs to continue to build the strength up," general manager Ed Wade said, according to MLB.com. "My guess is probably early in the week he'll get up on the mound, and we'll let him throw and continue to get comfortable with his surroundings. We're still of the mind he's going to be fine."

Lyon signed as a free agent in the offseason after spending last season with the Detroit Tigers, where he went 6-5 with a 2.86 ERA and registered 15 holds and three saves.

-- ESPN.com news services

ZIMMERMAN VOWS TO DO BETTER IN '10 (3:01 p.m. ET)
Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman needed only four full seasons to establish himself as one of baseball's brightest stars.

And he's not satisfied.

His 2009 campaign -- a .292 average with 33 homers and a team-leading 106 RBIs -- was capped by the kind of first-time accolades every player dreams of: selection to the All-Star Game, a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger as the National League's top offensive player at his position.

So what does Zimmerman do for an encore?

Point out his flaws and vow to erase them.

"I honestly try to get better every year. Obviously, I had my best year individually last year. From when I went back and looked at it, I made a lot of mistakes," Zimmerman said Sunday. "I can do better than that. You just got to work hard, learn from what you did wrong and get better."

Zimmerman's message heading into 2010: The front office has done its job and fortified the roster, so it's the players' responsibility to enact a turnaround from a 103-loss season.

"Even if you have a $200 million team like the Yankees, if those guys don't go out there and play, [you don't win]. It's up to us to execute and to do the little things right and win," Zimmerman said. "When it comes down to it, it's our team and we're the ones who have to execute."

-- The Associated Press

BLUE JAYS WON'T RUSH MCGOWAN (2:57 p.m. ET)
Dustin McGowan was pitching to major league hitters on Sunday for the first time in more than a year and a half.

Making Toronto's Opening Day roster is not a priority for the Blue Jays -- and shouldn't be for McGowan either.

"We've talked to him about it. That date is non-existent for us with him," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "If it happens to fall on that date, great. If it happens a week later, that's fine as well, even three month after that."

The 27-year-old last pitched on July 8, 2008, removed early in a game against Baltimore with a sore right shoulder. Two days later he went on the disabled list and underwent surgery July 31 to repair fraying of the labrum. It finished him for that season and last year's as well. Then on July 9, 2009, he had surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his right knee, delaying his rehabilitation by about six weeks.

McGowan was scheduled to throw only in the bullpen on Sunday, without facing batters, "but I talked with (pitching coach) Bruce Walton," Anthopoulos said, "and our trainer signed off on it, and Dustin felt good and wanted to throw to hitters. We didn't have a problem with it."

-- The Associated Press

TIGERS CLOSER VALVERDE LEAVES CAMP (1:28 p.m. ET)
New Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde has returned to his home country of the Dominican Republic for a death in the family, manager Jim Leyland said.

Valverde will be back at the Tigers' spring training camp in Lakeland, Fla., after a few days, Leyland said Friday.

Valverde came to the Tigers as a free agent after recording 116 saves in three years for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Houston Astros.

"He's a big, strong, outstanding-stuff guy with a great personality," Leyland said.

-- ESPN.com news services

RANGERS' SKIPPER: CENTER IS BORBON'S JOB TO LOSE (1:02 p.m. ET)
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said the center field and leadoff starting jobs are Julio Borbon's to lose.

"For me, Borbon is in the same position that [shortstop] Elvis Andrus was last year," Washington said Sunday. "It's up to us to keep him relaxed and let him be who he is."

Borbon made his debut with the Rangers last season as a substitute for an injured Josh Hamilton and hit .312 in 46 games. The 23-year-old entered this spring as the leading candidate to replace Marlon Byrd, who signed with the Chicago Cubs in the offseason.

One distinct difference in the way Borbon will be used is that Washington plans to play Borbon every day, versus both right-handers and left-handers. Last season, Borbon was a meager 2-for-15 against lefties in the limited opportunities he was given.

"I feel comfortable against lefties," Borbon said. "I've never had any doubts hitting versus righties or lefties. It's a matter of coming back out and doing it consistently."

-- The Associated Press

WISDOM FROM THE MASTER (10:46 a.m. ET)
Who better to teach the Oakland Athletics' best base-stealing threat than baseball's all-time stolen base leader?

Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, who's visiting Oakland's camp as a special instructor this week, spent half an hour with center fielder Rajai Davis on Saturday. He predicted Davis, who stole 41 bases in 2009, could swipe as many as 80 bags this season.

"He had no balance, but then we kept talking. I said there's something you're doing wrong," Henderson said of his work with Davis. "Everything he did, he did flat-footed. I asked him how he got to be so fast when he's flat-footed. "I said, 'Get a little on your toes,' and he never knew it made such a difference. And that's one little thing that changed him already."

"He's a good kid, and to me he's got the heart that he wants to be a basestealer," Henderson added. "The biggest thing is fear that I got to get out of him -- fear in him going out and taking control of the bases and changing the game."

Davis welcomed the opportunity to learn from Henderson.

"To get another perspective from a guy who has proven his success at this level in the major leagues is a great opportunity," Davis said. I don't know how many teams get this chance to bring back guys who are in the Hall of Fame."

-- ESPN.com news services

ESCOBAR NOT LIKELY READY FOR OPENING DAY (10:46 a.m. ET)
Mets right-hander Kelvim Escobar has yet to throw off the mound in spring training and is now expected to start the season on the disabled list with shoulder weakness, manager Jerry Manuel says.

The Mets signed Escobar to a one-year contract worth $1.25 million plus incentives, believing he could likely overcome the injury woes that sidelined him for most of 2008 and 2009 and recover the form that delivered 17 wins for the Los Angeles Angels in 2007. He was penciled in as a likely set-up man for closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Escobar said he's been playing catch every other day, but has no turntable for returning to the mound, according to MLB.com. "They don't want to rush me back, because I've already had a couple of setbacks trying to rush myself," he said. "This time, I want to do things right and make sure."

With Escobar not expected to be ready, the Mets are considering possibilities including Ryota Igarashi, Bobby Parnell, Sean Green and Fernando Nieve.

"If [Escobar's] healthy, it would have been a tremendous, tremendous fit for us," manager Jerry Manuel told reporters. "We felt like we kind of had that covered. But now with the injury situation, we have to have someone else step up and handle that role."

-- ESPN.com news services

Spring Training Blog: Feb. 24

February, 24, 2010
02/24/10
11:50
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GIAMBI REPORTS TO ROCKIES SPRING TRAINING (8:30 p.m. ET)
In a perfect world, Jason Giambi would be reporting to spring training as a designated hitter for a contender in the American League. Instead, Giambi returned to the Rockies in Tucson on Wednesday, where he will be an occasional fill-in for Todd Helton at first base and a pinch-hitter.

Giambi signed a one-year deal for $1.75 million in January after not being able to secure a job as an everyday DH. Just because it was Plan B doesn't make it any less desirable, Giambi said.

"Trust me, in a perfect world, I'd love to say I could still go out there every day at first base and still play," Giambi said after reporting to camp Wednesday. "I would've loved that opportunity to see what I could do [as a] DH day-in and out with a team that had an opportunity [to win]. But I enjoy it here. I really had a great time, and I'm excited to be back."

The 36-year-old Helton admitted to wearing down at the end of last season. He told Tracy that he was amenable to more rest this season, which would open up at-bats for Giambi. And Giambi's presence bolsters the bench and gives Tracy another left-handed bat to go with outfielder Seth Smith.

Helton said Giambi, a lifetime .282 hitter with 409 home runs and .527 slugging percentage, brings "intimidation" at the plate and a "clubhouse presence" to the Rockies. One of Giambi's strengths, Helton said, is his ability to discuss hitting and do it with a calming influence.

-- The Associated Press

STRASBURG SLATED TO THROW MARCH 9 (6:58 p.m. ET)
Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said RHP Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 pick in June's draft, would make his first exhibition start on March 9 against Detroit at Space Coast Stadium and will pitch every fifth day, regardless of where the game was to be played.

Washington pitching coach Steve McCatty told MLB.com he is looking forward to watching Strasburg throw against big league hitters.

"This will be my first chance to see him face hitters. Everybody is really excited," McCatty told MLB.com. "We'll see how it goes. Who knows what's going to happen after that. We are just going to go and see how it's going to works out. We are going to have a rain day every once in a while, so everything is always done in pencil."

-- ESPN.com news services

TIGERS' ZUMAYA, FASTBALL BACK (5:38 p.m. ET)
Joel Zumaya's overpowering pitching sessions have attracted a lot of attention in the early days of spring training. Just six months ago, as he was preparing for a second major operation in less than two years on his aching right shoulder, he wondered whether his career might be over at the age of 24.

"I've asked myself plenty of times: When does this stop? It's come down plenty of times to: That's enough, my arm is shot," Zumaya said. "I've had so many surgeries already. I've seen plenty of guys' careers end. They're done; they just make the decision to go home. I know I have some left. I have a lot left."

He has so much left that manager Jim Leyland sometimes shakes his head in disbelief.

"I watched him throwing the other day and I remarked to one of the coaches: 'How does a human being hit that?'" Leyland said. "That blows my mind ... the ball is exploding up there, and it's impressive enough that he can throw it that way; it's more impressive that somebody can hit it."

The Tigers would like Zumaya to take back the eighth-inning role he had in his rookie season of 2006, when he struck out 97 in 83 1/3 innings and they won the pennant.

"It bothered me all last year," Zumaya said. "I kept my mouth shut, but it hurt all year. I tried to do as much as I could to help this team, and it's probably my fault that I did it but I'm a competitor. I don't want to sit on the bench and watch my teammates go out there and battle it off, and then the seventh and eighth inning come along and the game goes the other way."

-- The Associated Press

PHILS FEEL THEY HAVE 'UNFINISHED BUSINESS' (4:43 p.m. ET)
The Phillies say they have some "unfinished business" this year after falling two wins shy of repeating as World Series champions.

"Last year didn't go the way we wanted it to," Ryan Howard said. "Hopefully everyone comes in here with the mindset of unfinished business, everyone gets locked in and we have a good spring training and carry it out to the season."

The two-time defending NL champions are hoping for another long season that carries into late October and possibly early November. But they've got a long way to go before they get there. The team held its second full-squad workout Wednesday and live batting practice starts Thursday.

Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez are among the hitters scheduled to face new ace Roy Halladay.

-- The Associated Press

WELLS READY FOR LEADERSHIP ROLE WITH JAYS (3:31 p.m. ET)
Vernon Wells says he's finally prepared to assume the mantle of leadership for the youth-laden Toronto Blue Jays.

"It's a fun role to be in," he said. "Guys look at you to do the right things and how to be successful at this level. It's a role I'm looking forward to. For me, it's pretty easy. You expect guys to go out and play hard. That's my point to everybody. There's one thing you can control in this game and that's going out and playing the game the right way and respecting the game. Things will work out after that."

Manager Cito Gaston said Wells and second baseman/designated hitter Aaron Hill, starting his sixth season, "are probably going to be two guys who step up and do it. You've always got to remember you lead by example.

"You're going to have bad nights and you're going to have to handle them the right way. You're going to have good nights and you're going to have to handle them the right way," Gaston said. "Leadership is tough to do. Some people are leaders, some are not."

One thing Wells has going for him this spring is a pain-free left wrist. He fractured it making a sliding catch in Cleveland on May 10, 2008, underwent surgery and missed 26 games, and 25 more because of hamstring problems.

-- The Associated Press

DOTEL OFF TO SLOW START (2:28 p.m. ET)
Pirates reliever Octavio Dotel is off to a slower start than he expected at spring training.

Dotel strained a muscle on the left side of his upper body Sunday while throwing a bullpen session. The injury is not considered serious, but Dotel has been shut down for a few days as a precaution.

The 36-year-old Dotel has pitched a total of 160 innings over the past three years. The Pirates signed the oft-injured pitcher in the offseason.

"It's good that it wasn't a big pop or a snap or anything," manager John Russell said Wednesday. "It's better it happened now than later in camp. There are no concerns he won't be ready for the season."

The Pirates already had planned on taking it easy with their new closer. Like Dotel, right-hander Brendan Donnelly also will be eased into his spring workload.

-- The Associated Press

A'S ANDERSON WORKING ON CHANGEUP (1:36 p.m. ET)
Brett Anderson, who went 11-11 with a 4.06 ERA and finished sixth in American League Rookie of the Year balloting last season, is concentrating on improving his changeup. He went home to Stillwater, Okla., in the offseason and worked on the pitch with his father, Frank, the head baseball coach at Oklahoma State.

Anderson hopes the pitch will help him put more balls in play early in counts and allow him to go deeper in games. He threw 175 1/3 innings in his rookie season.

"I've thrown a change before, but it's never been a confidence pitch for me," Anderson said. "I've always had enough confidence in my slider and curveball to throw them whenever I wanted to. [The changeup] is getting better, but it's a process."

Anderson also plans to do a better job of moving the ball around in the strike zone. He recalls a confrontation with Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval last year, when he kept pounding the inside corner with fastballs before finally surrendering a three-run homer.

"No matter how good your stuff is, if big league hitters are looking for one pitch in one location, they're definitely going to hit it," Anderson said.

-- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com

SPLIT-FINGERED PITCH GIVES IGARASHI EDGE IN METS' PEN (1:18 p.m. ET)
This spring, Mets manager Jerry Manuel is looking for someone to pitch the eighth inning, and deliver the ball to closer Francisco Rodriguez. When asked which of the many candidates might have a slight edge, he pointed at 30-year-old right-hander Ryota Igarashi from Japan.

"He throws strikes, and he has this," Manuel said, putting his right hand in a split-fingered grip position. "He could give a different look to hitters the first month of the season."

Igarashi, 30, was 3-2 with a 3.19 ERA in 56 games last year for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, in Japan. Kelvim Escobar, Bobby Parnell and Sean Green are other likely candidates for the set-up role.

The Mets opened camp with a rotation that includes Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine. Jonathon Niese is perhaps the leader among several candidates for the fifth starter spot.

Finding a complement for Santana at the top of the rotation will be crucial to the Mets' chances to contend in the National League East. Perez, always erratic, came to camp in very good shape, several Mets said. He has worked with Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax in camp and has, from all reports, thrown the ball well in his bullpen sessions this spring.

-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

INFIELD SWAP: LOPEZ, FIGGINS TRADE PLACES (12:15 p.m. ET)
When the Mariners trotted out for infield drills on Tuesday, second baseman Jose Lopez went to third base and newly acquired third baseman Chone Figgins headed over to second.

Was it spring training jitters? Or some clubhouse humor at the new guy's expense? No, and no. Lopez has been asked to give third base a try, while Figgins, who has big league experience at second, will move across the infield.

"I'll try to catch ground balls at third base and see what happens at spring training, play in a couple of games," Lopez said, according to The Seattle Times. "If I like it, I like it. I'll try."

Lopez said he had a hunch that he might be asked to make the shift when the Mariners signed Figgins, according to the report. And when Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu approached him with the idea, he agreed to give it a try.

"Figgins is a good guy and quick," Lopez said, according to the Times. "He's got better range. And we need it. I've got a better arm than Figgins at third base, especially with a diving catch. But it's no big deal. I'll wait for the games and see how I'm feeling in the games."

"We're going to look at it and see," Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said, according to the report. "There's nothing etched in stone right now. We're just looking to see what our different options are."

-- ESPN.com news services

GREAT EXPECTATIONS FOR HEYWARD (11:56 a.m. ET)
The comparisons already are out of control for Atlanta Braves prospect Jason Heyward.

Chipper Jones says the 6-foot-5 Heyward looks like former Braves first baseman Fred McGriff, only bigger.

Eric Hinske says Heyward hits line drives like Cliff Floyd.

Leave it to manager Bobby Cox to trump those comparisons.

Cox says the ball sounds different coming off Heyward's bat. It's a sound Cox says he has heard before -- "kind of like ol' Hank Aaron's sound."

Heyward calls Cox's comparison to the Hall of Famer "awesome." Even more exciting to the 20-year-old is the word from Cox that Heyward can win a starting job in right field this spring.

-- The Associated Press

Spring Training Blog: Feb. 21

February, 21, 2010
02/21/10
10:16
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PIRATES TO BE CAREFUL WITH MAHOLM (3:25 p.m. ET)
The Pittsburgh Pirates plan to be more careful with pitcher Paul Maholm this season.

Maholm went 8-9 with a 4.44 ERA last year, not what the Pirates expected from their ace.

But there were times, pitching coach Joe Kerrigan said, when Maholm insisted on taking his regular turn in the rotation despite a sore left knee and illness. Kerrigan went along, and Maholm paid the price with awful outings.

"This guy pitched with a whole bunch of injuries last year," Kerrigan said. "Some of it was our fault. There were a couple of times when we shouldn't have let him pitch with that knee."

"But he'll convince you -- he'll lie to you. He's a real good liar. We're going to have to be more forceful, I think, if we see that knee swell up a little bit. We've got to be smarter. We've got to be stubborn about it," he said.

-- The Associated Press

PITCHING DEPTH A PLUS IN OAKLAND (2:52 p.m. ET)
The A's currently expect Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson to slot in as the top four starters in the rotation. That leaves Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Vin Mazzaro to compete for the fifth spot.

Cahill, one of Oakland's top prospects, posted a 10-13 record with a 4.63 ERA in 32 starts last season. The A's want him to work on his slider and improve his performance against left-handed hitters, who batted .286 against him with a .558 slugging percentage in 2009.

It's possible that one of the losers in the fifth starter derby will assume a long relief role, but manager Bob Geren isn't thinking that far ahead.

"Right now I'm just going to treat them all like starters and stretch them out and see how the next few weeks progress,'' Geren said.

-- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com

LIRIANO'S SLIDER IS BACK? (2:47 p.m. ET)
In his first three seasons after Tommy John surgery, Minnesota Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano lost touch with his slider, once one of the most feared and unhittable pitches in the big leagues.

In his fourth offseason since the procedure, Liriano was finally able to rear back and let it fly. For the first time in a long time, the bite was in the slider and not in his elbow.

While pitching in winter ball in his native Dominican this offseason, Liriano started to feel like the All-Star power pitcher he was in 2006, not the wayward youngster of the past three seasons who looked lost without his favorite pitch. He went 3-1 with a 0.49 ERA in seven postseason appearances for Leones del Escogido, including a one-hit, 10-strikeout, five-inning masterpiece in the championship game.

As the Twins' pitchers and catchers report for spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., the team and Liriano hope his winter ball performance was a sign of things to come.

"You just have to wait and see how he carries it up to here," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's one thing pitching down there and it's another thing pitching up here. But the reports are that he's really throwing the ball well. He could be one of those ace in the holes if he can come back and bounce back, keep his arm up and the ball down."

-- The Associated Press

VAZQUEZ HAS FIRST BULLPEN SESSION (2:33 p.m. ET)
Yankees right-hander Javier Vazquez threw 35 pitches during his first spring training bullpen session Sunday.

Vazquez was acquired in an offseason trade with Atlanta to be the fourth starter behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte.

"The first time out, I feel OK," Vazquez said.

Vazquez had pitched off a mound several times -- the last being a week and a half ago -- at home in Puerto Rico. After working 219 1/3 innings last season, the Yankees had originally planned to keep him off the mound until Wednesday.

Jorge Posada caught Vazquez. The pair were Yankees teammates in 2004.

-- The Associated Press

OSWALT SETS GOALS FOR 2010 REBOUND (12:03 p.m. ET)
Roy Oswalt will be counting innings more than victories this season.

The Houston Astros' ace said on Sunday that if he can make 35 starts and reach 200 innings, he'll have a successful season.

Oswalt is coming off the most frustrating year of his career, when he went 8-6 and set a dubious franchise record with 16 no-decisions. He strained his lower back in July, then sat out the last two weeks of the season with a bulging disk.

The 32-year-old Oswalt says his back is healed and he's been reinvigorated by new manager Brad Mills and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg.

Oswalt is confident he can put up numbers like he did when he won 20 games in 2004 and '05, and helped Houston reach unprecedented postseason success.

-- The Associated Press

ROGERS TO VISIT TIGERS CAMP AS INSTRUCTOR (11:17 a.m. ET)
Former Detroit Tigers left-hander Kenny Rogers is returning to spring training as a special pitching instructor.

Rogers spent the last three years of his 20-year career with the Tigers, leading them to an American League pennant in 2006. He'll be working with the Tigers at their spring training facility in Lakeland, Fla., on March 2-5, the team said.

Another former Tigers great will not be at camp, however. Lou Whittaker, who has been a special instructor at spring training since his 1995 retirement, will not be reprising that role this spring.

-- ESPN.com news services

POSADA LOOKING FORWARD TO CATCHING BURNETT (11:06 a.m. ET)
Jorge Posada says he never took it personally when he was benched for A.J. Burnett's four postseason starts. And now that a new season has begun, the veteran Yankees catcher is looking forward to catching Burnett again, saying he enjoys that Burnett brings the same intensity to the game that Roger Clemens did, the New York Daily News reported.

"Last year I really got up when he pitched. You can't be passive back there," Posada said, according to the report. "His stuff is so good, he's electrifying. It's a real challenge, but it's fun. It's unfortunate what happened last season, but I'm looking forward to catching him again. I really am."

During the 2009 playoffs, Jose Molina started on days Burnett pitched, as Burnett seemed to pitch better when Molina was behind the plate. Now Molina is with the Blue Jays.

"I wasn't happy to sit down [during the playoffs]," Posada said, according to the report. "But you look back and you see we won, it makes it easier to accept. I know A.J. didn't ask for it, and he expressed that, so it's not as if we have a problem.

"Joe [Girardi] felt he and Jose had a good connection, and I don't blame him. You want to win. Looking ahead now, there's nothing to be addressed."

-- ESPN.com news services

DUCHSCHERER FIGHTING BACK SORENESS (10:40 a.m. ET)
Athletics starter Justin Duchscherer says he's feeling great mentally after getting treatment for what he described as a mental breakdown last season, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. But his body is not cooperating as spring training begins.

Duchscherer says he has an irritated SI joint -- the joint connecting the base of the spine to the hip bones -- and has had three cortisone shots to fight the irritation, including one last week, the Chronicle reported. But the right-hander also said the issue is minor and that there's a simple fix that would keep him off the field only a few days.

A's manager Bob Geren said Duchscherer, who is penciled in as the A's No. 2 starter, had lingering back soreness after throwing on Friday and will be re-evaluated on Sunday, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

"He's had it off and on for a week or two," Geren said, according to the Mercury News. "He felt good [Friday]. He threw a 20-pitch bullpen. But he woke up this morning, and it was a little bit stiff."

-- ESPN.com news services

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April, 1, 2009
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ROYALS DEAL GLOAD TO MARLINS (10:31 p.m. ET)
The Kansas City Royals traded first baseman Ross Gload and cash to the Florida Marlins on Wednesday for a player to be named.

Kansas City also optioned right-hander Brian Bannister to Triple-A Omaha and released right-hander Joel Peralta. Left-hander John Bale, who is recovering from thyroid surgery, was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27.

Manager Trey Hillman said Sidney Ponson would be the fourth starter and work the home opener April 10 against the New York Yankees. Left-hander Horacio Ramirez will be the No. 5 starter but also would work out of the bullpen.

Gload hit .280 in 22 games for the Royals in spring training. He was acquired from the White Sox in 2006 and hit .273 in a career-high 122 games last season.

"As long as there is a uniform on the other side there's an opportunity," Gload said. "I think I can fit in well with a National League ballclub. Ideally, I would have liked to been here. I wish there was a spot."

Kansas City agreed to pay most of Gload's $1.9 million contract. General manager Dayton Moore said the Royals would receive a minor leaguer in the deal.

GLAVINE IMPRESSES FOR BRAVES (8:38 p.m. ET)
Tom Glavine passed his final spring test Wednesday.

The left-hander tossed five innings in Atlanta's 9-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers and will pitch in two minor league games before making his season debut for the Braves on April 18.

"He threw great," manager Bobby Cox said. "That's what he does. He's at the top of his game and when the 18th rolls around, he'll be ready to go."

Glavine gave up three runs and seven hits, including Curtis Granderson's two-run homer in the third inning. Glavine made only 13 starts a year ago for Atlanta, going 2-4 with a 5.54 ERA before his season was cut short by an elbow injury.

He went on the disabled list for the first time in his 22-year career, undergoing surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon and clean up his shoulder.

"I feel better than I did last week," said Glavine, who leads all active pitchers with 305 wins. "I had some uncertainty about what was left but I feel a lot better now. I just made one mistake. I tried to throw it too hard on a fastball to Granderson and he homered. It happens."

A'S ANNOUNCE ROTATION (8:27 p.m. ET)
Athletics' manager Bob Geren finally announced the team's rotation after Wednesday's 8-8 tie with the Cubs.

Dallas Braden, who gave up six runs in five innings, will be the Opening Day starter, as expected. He'll be followed by Trevor Cahill, Dana Eveland, Brett Anderson and Josh Outman.

Sean Gallagher, who began the season penciled into the No. 2 spot, is now "competing for a bullpen spot," Geren said.

"What I'm looking for from him this spring was to attack the strike zone a little better," Geren said. "I'm looking for his stuff to be a little crisper."

Cahill and Anderson, the A's highly touted pair of 21-year-olds, will each be making their big league debuts. Neither has pitched a regular season game above Double-A. Cahill will start the second game in Anaheim, about an hour from his home in the San Diego area.

"It's awesome," Cahill said. "I'm still shaking. All my friends are already asking me for tickets."

Braden said the news that he was going to get the Opening Day start took some of the sting out of a poor performance against the Cubs.

"When you think about it you've been given a go ahead from an entire organization, a front office, to try and get the season off on the right foot, to try to set the tone," Braden said. "And you know what? I think we're all ready to have this spring come to an end and kind of get it crackin' for real."

TOP TIGERS PROPECTS MAKE CUT (7:09 p.m. ET)
Top Tigers pitching prospects Rick Porcello and Kyle Perry found out Wednesday they made the opening day roster. Porcello, selected in the first round of the 2007 draft, and Perry, Detroit's first-round pick last year, haven't pitched above Class A.

Both were impressive all spring and manager Jim Leyland, who is in the final year of his contract, said he had no choice but to keep them.

"They were better than everyone else we had," he said. "They deserved the job."

Leyland said he had no doubts and it was an unanimous decision between the organization and coaches that the two were ready for the big leagues.

"If people say we rushed them, I will take the blame," Leyland said. "All you have to do is look at them and know they are ready."

Porcello earned a spot in the rotation and Perry will pitch out of the bullpen.

ISRINGHAUSEN TO START SEASON ON DL (6:42 p.m. ET)
Although Rays manager Joe Maddon has not officially set the roster, several important decisions were made Wednesday.

Reliever Jason Isringhausen will begin the season on the disabled list, giving him additional time to build arm strength following elbow surgery. The move won't be made until Sunday, when injured outfielders B.J. Upton and Fernando Perez and reliever Chad Bradford also will go on the DL.

"I only had six innings since elbow surgery, and we all agreed I need a few more innings to get to where I want to be with my mechanics and my arm strength and stuff, so this is the right thing to do," said Isringhausen, who spent the past seven seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and has 293 career saves.

Meanwhile, second baseman Adam Kennedy, first baseman Chris Richard, infielder Ray Olmedo, catcher Michel Hernandez and outfielders Jon Weber and Ray Sadler have been told they will not make the team and will be reassigned to minor league camp after Saturday's exhibition in Philadelphia.

Matt Joyce, obtained in an offseason trade that sent starting pitcher Edwin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers, beat out Justin Ruggiano for a spot as the fourth outfielder -- even if it may wind up being until the April 13 home opener, when Upton hopes to be fully recovered from shoulder surgery.

BENSON MAKES ROTATION (5:14 p.m. ET)
Right-hander Kris Benson, who last pitched in the majors in 2006, has made the Texas Rangers' starting rotation.

General manager Jon Daniels said Wednesday that Benson will be a starter, a move that pushes right-hander Scott Feldman to the bullpen. Benson is 2-0 with a 4.76 ERA in five spring games.

Benson, the No. 1 overall pick by Pittsburgh in 1996, missed 2007 after surgery to repair a torn right rotator cuff. He was 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA in 11 starts last year for Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia's Triple-A team, before the Phillies released him Aug. 30.

Jason Jennings, a starter plagued by elbow problems the last two seasons, will start the season in the bullpen.

SABATHIA HIT SCARES YANKEES (4:52 p.m. ET)
The Yankees got a major scare in Opening Day starter CC Sabathia's final spring training start. The left-hander had Jason Ellison's line-drive RBI single go off his glove in the second inning of New York's 8-5 win over the Phillies.

Sabathia remained in the game and wound up allowing two runs and six hits over 3 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one during a 70-pitch outing.

CARDS PUSH BACK TIMETABLE FOR GLAUS' RETURN (4:42 p.m. ET)
Third baseman Troy Glaus is expected to miss at least two months following a setback in his rehabilitation from arthroscopic shoulder surgery in January. Glaus was originally expected to miss only a few weeks of the regular season. But on Wednesday, the Cardinals said Glaus will be re-evaluated around June 1.

Glaus hit .270 last season with 27 homers and 99 RBIs.

David Freese is the top candidate to start at third with Glaus out. The 25-year-old rookie hit .306 with 26 homers and 91 RBIs at Triple-A Memphis last season.

Glaus traveled to California last week to consult with the doctor who performed the surgery.

Glaus will be in St. Louis for Opening Day on Monday before traveling to Phoenix to continue his rehab.

MARINERS PUT JIMENEZ ON DL, SEND DOWN OLSON (2:32 p.m. ET)
The Seattle Mariners have placed Cesar Jimenez on the 15-day disabled list and optioned Garrett Olson to Triple-A Tacoma, leaving the team without a left-hander in the bullpen to start the season.

The Mariners also sent right-hander Randy Messenger and infielder Chris Shelton, who hit .460 in 25 spring games, to their minor league camp.

Jimenez was placed on the DL with biceps tendinitis, retroactive to March 29. Manager Don Wakamatsu says the team wants Jimenez to be able to throw two innings out of the bullpen and he's not at that point yet.

Olson struggled in two of his last three spring relief appearances, including giving up two runs in two innings on Tuesday.

ORIOLES SWAP PENN TO MARLINS FOR ANDINO (1:49 p.m. ET)
The Baltimore Orioles have acquired infielder Roberto Andino from the Florida Marlins for pitcher Hayden Penn.

The Orioles announced the trade Wednesday.

Penn was 3-6 with a 9.31 ERA in 14 major league starts for the Orioles in 2005-06. The right-hander had 10 minor league starts in 2007 and spent 2008 at Triple-A Norfolk because of bone chips in his right elbow. He was 6-7 with a 4.79 ERA in 21 starts with Norfolk.

Andino has a .201 average (29-for-144) with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 79 games with the Marlins over four seasons. In 2008, Andino batted .206 (13-for-63) with two homers and nine RBIs.

PARK BEATS OUT HAPP AS PHILS' FIFTH STARTER (1:45 p.m. ET)
Chan Ho Park and J.A. Happ both wanted to be the Philadelphia Phillies' fifth starter. But only one could have the job, and the Phillies chose Park on Tuesday.

"J.A. Happ did not lose the job," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Chan Ho Park won it. That does not mean that J.A. Happ pitched his way out of the rotation."

Park, the first Korean to appear in a major league game, wanted to start for the Phillies so he could provide some regular entertainment for fans in his country, which has been hard-hit by the recession. He won it by posting a 2.53 ERA this spring. "Probably [people back home] are very happy and excited about it," Park said, according to the report.

Happ said he would have rather remained in the majors as a reliever than begin the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley as a starter. "I did all these things to be a big-leaguer," he said, according to the report.

BOSTON OR PAWTUCKET? BUCHHOLZ AWAITS DECISION (1:22 p.m. ET)
Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz had a strong spring training. Whether he starts the season with the Red Sox is now out of his hands.

Buchholz, who struggled in 2008, had been sharp in spring training up until Tuesday, when he let up nine hits and six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays. He must now wait and see how Brad Penny pitches on Thursday to determine whether he will start the season in Boston or with Triple-A Pawtucket. If Penny has a strong outing, he'll likely be Boston's fifth starter.

"I'm the next guy in line," Buchholz said, according to the Boston Herald. "So I'm just going to keep coming out every day and doing my work and then hopefully something good will come out of it. If Brad's healthy, he's definitely going to help the club, so I hope he has good health and goes out and does what he does. If not, I'll be there to back him up."

"I think, all spring, he set out to make decisions hard for us and he's done a terrific job," manager Terry Francona said of Buchholz, according to the report. "He's picked up his tempo, he's attacking with his fastball, his changeup is starting to have that old life to it, and he's thrown some good breaking balls. We're really pleased with him."

INDIANS DEAL MUJICA TO PADRES (1:02 p.m. ET)
The Cleveland Indians have traded right-hander Edward Mujica to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday for future considerations or cash.

Right-hander Jae Kuk Ryu, claimed on waivers by Cleveland from the Padres on Thursday, was returned to San Diego. The deal was voided by major league baseball, and the Indians would not comment on any injury concerns with the 25-year-old South Korean.

Mujica, a 24-year-old native of Venezuela, was out of options with Cleveland after pitching in relief in parts of the past three seasons for the Indians. In 53 games, he went 3-3 with a 6.04 ERA.

KARSTENS EARNS SPOT IN PIRATES' ROTATION (11:20 a.m. ET)
Right-hander Jeff Karstens has won the final spot in the Pittsburgh Pirates' starting rotation.

Karstens locked up the job Wednesday, when the team optioned right-hander Virgil Vasquez to Triple-A Indianapolis. That ended a five-week spring training battle in which neither pitcher dominated.

Karstens pitched in seven games, including three starts. He went 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA and allowed 30 hits and eight walks in 23 1/3 innings.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.