February, 21, 2009
Jose Guillen has a sore right shoulder and an ingrown nail on his big right toe, limiting his spring training activities with the Royals.

While the toe injury has hampered Guillen for a few days, the balky shoulder was revealed before Saturday's workout.

"He's got a sore shoulder," manager Trey Hillman said. "So we're going to back him down from swinging and throwing for the next couple of days. With the toe, it's just a matter of how quickly his body heals. That is still limiting him as far as running."

Guillen, who led the Royals with 20 homers and 97 RBIs last season, was allowed to stretch and participate in some defensive drills, but then was sent to the trainer's room for treatment.

Manager Jerry Manuel is trying something new with the Mets, making players take 80 swings at breaking balls off a pitching machine, hitting them to the opposite field. Generally players hit in groups of three or four, taking anywhere from five to 15 swings before rotating.

"You want to be able to hit and handle the bat when you're tired," third baseman David Wright said Saturday. "He wants to mold and shape us into the team he wants us to be and this is a part of that."

Manuel said he got the drill while in the Tigers organization.

"In my upbringing with Detroit and Les Moss, I recollect us going out and doing this every morning," Manuel said. "I saw Kirk Gibson, who was a prospect I think at that time, on that curveball machine every day."

Meanwhile, right-hander Tim Redding, who is competing for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, will not throw his first bullpen until late next week at the earliest because of discomfort in his throwing shoulder. The news was better for John Maine, who threw 40 pitches in a live batting-practice session, marking the first time he has faced batters since having surgery in September to shave a bone spur in his pitching shoulder.

The Indians signed 16-year-old catcher Martin Cervenka of the Czech Republic to a non-drafted minor league contract Saturday. Peter Gahan, who scouts Europe and Australia for the Indians, discovered the right-handed hitter while evaluating players at Major League Baseball's European Academy in Italy.

Cleveland began scouting the academy about one year ago, assistant general manager John Mirabelli said. But several other teams, including the Twins and Reds, have previously signed other prospects from Europe, a continent where soccer rules and baseball is still in its infancy.

Because he's still in high school, the 6-foot-2, 165-pound Cervenka will continue to play for his club team, Kotlarka, in 2009. Mirabelli said the youngster from Prague will report to the Indians' new year-round Player Development Complex in Arizona during breaks from school -- he won't finish until he's 19 -- and that he will likely play in Australia during the next two summers.

"It will be a while before he plays with us," Mirabelli said. "We might send some of our instructors over there to watch him and work with him. It's a long-term sign, but we like his upside. It's a creative signing. We just feel like there is value in trying to develop a kid like that and see what happens.

"He's young, but we like some of his raw, physical tools."

Dontrelle Willis reported to spring training last season with high hopes. The Tigers were expecting even more.

A year later, he still hasn't won a game for the Tigers. An injured knee slowed him and he wound up going 0-2 in seven games before rehabbing in the minors.

Willis, who isn't guaranteed a starter's job this season, pitched his first batting practice of the spring Saturday and turned a lot of heads. He threw mostly strikes from a revamped and shortened windup in 10 minutes on the mound. Willis has thrown in the past from a windup that had his elbows and knees flying in different directions, like a man trying to dodge bees.

"Dontrelle looked really good," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "This is the best he's been since he came here. He has that big strong arm, and I don't know if I have ever seen him pitch with this kind of velocity."

Willis, who won 22 games for Florida in 2005, is competing with Nate Robertson and Zach Miner for the final spot in a strong rotation that also features Jeremy Bonderman, Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson and Armando Galarraga.

Chris Carpenter was on the mound Saturday morning, and that was enough for St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

La Russa watched as the former Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches from behind a screen in a 10-minute session, his first time facing batters since September.

"The fact that he's actually on the field is exciting," La Russa said. "We've only seen this how many times? You can count it on less than two hands how many times in the last two years we've actually seen him facing a hitter. So this is a big day, and a fun day."

Though he struggled at times with the location of his fastball, Carpenter snapped off several strong breaking balls.

"My arm felt great," Carpenter said. "My location was off a bit at the beginning, but I felt like the last 10 or so [pitches] I was hitting my spot pretty good. It was just fun to get back out there and be a part of it."

Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia missed his scheduled batting practice session Saturday because of the flu.

Sabathia was sent home from Steinbrenner Field after it was determined he was too ill for the workout. Manager Joe Girardi didn't rule out that the expected Opening Day starter could take the hill Sunday.

"He said he wanted to throw his BP and he ended up throwing up again," Girardi said. "He just said, 'I'll wait until tomorrow.'"

Sabathia, considered the top free agent during the offseason, signed a $161 million, seven-year deal with the Yankees. He is scheduled to make his first spring training start March 6.

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is optimistic about reaching a long-term deal with the Washington Nationals before Opening Day.

Zimmerman agreed to a $3.325 million, one-year contract Friday and rejoined the Nationals early Saturday morning. He was the last player in the major leagues scheduled for an arbitration hearing.

"It's a difficult process," Zimmerman said Saturday. "It wasn't a strain; it was just back and forth talking, and that's how it gets done, ultimately. I think if we didn't have the relationship we have, where we were so open with each other, I don't know if it would have gotten done the way it got done."

Zimmerman said there could be a multiyear deal in place by Washington's opener at Florida on April 6.

"This is where I want to play, and I think we have a great situation and it's getting better and better each year," he said. "I think we're getting closer and closer every time we talk."

Indians outfielder Dave Dellucci will miss at least the first three Cactus League games after cutting his left thumb while packing for spring training.

Dellucci, who throws left-handed, slammed a trailer tailgate on his thumb at his home in Baton Rouge, La., on Feb. 1. He needed three stitches to close the gash, and a hand specialist performed minor surgery.

Dellucci did not reveal the injury to reporters until Saturday. He said he'll be one week behind but was able to throw Friday and hit off a tee without pain.

The 35-year-old outfielder is in the final season of a three-year, $11.5 million contract that has not panned out for Cleveland. Dellucci missed most of 2006 with a torn hamstring and last season batted just .238 in 113 games.

BAD NEWS FOR HALL (10:42 a.m. ET)
An MRI showed Saturday that catcher Toby Hall has a torn labrum, effectively ending his chances to win a spot as the Astros' backup catcher.

According to, no surgery has been scheduled, but Hall will miss a month at the minimum.

Hall's injury leaves three catchers vying for two spots on the roster. Humberto Quintero is the favorite to win the starter's job, while J.R. Towles and Rule 5 draft pick Lou Palmisano will likely compete for the backup spot.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.



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