March, 2, 2009
With general manager Ken Williams, pitching coach Don Cooper and manager Ozzie Guillen all looking on, both Jose Contreras and veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon threw their first pitches off the mound of spring training before the White Sox's 5-3 loss to the Mariners on Monday.

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Contreras is more than three months ahead of schedule after rupturing his left Achilles tendon last August. Not only did he throw all his pitches, but several times he dropped his arm angle down and threw sidearm to test the injury.

His fastball had pop on it, leaving Cooper saying, "Hey, we could plug him tomorrow. But we're not going to do that."

Colon is coming off offseason surgery to clean some bone chips up in his right elbow.

Contreras and Colon are on the same schedule, each penciled in to throw off the mound Wednesday and then again on March 7. If there are no setbacks, they will face hitters in a batting practice session on March 9, with the hope of seeing Cactus League action by March 15 or 16.

Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday after some extra recovery time for his strained left Achilles tendon.

National League Minute

Hamilton, who got hurt Sunday, didn't travel with the team for its spring training game Monday against Cleveland. Hamilton did report to Rangers camp and asked to be the designated hitter against the Indians, but the decision was made for him to not make the trip.

Texas has its first off day of the spring Tuesday, giving Hamilton consecutive days off.

Hamilton, an All-Star last season who hit 32 home runs and led the American League with 130 RBIs, felt tightness after hitting a triple in the first inning Sunday. He said it was no big deal and that he felt fine after coming out of that game.

The 28-year-old Hamilton is 5-for-9 with two homers, a triple and four RBIs in four games this spring.

The field of pitchers in the running for the Dodgers' fifth starter spot behind No. 4 Clayton Kershaw is quite deep.

American League Minute

But manager Joe Torre feels with more than a month before the team opens the season in San Diego on April 6, there is still plenty of time for a solid No. 5 to emerge.

Two prime candidates, Eric Milton and Claudio Vargas, each tossed a pair of scoreless innings in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the White Sox. Shawn Estes, Jason Schmidt and Jeff Weaver,big league starters who have been sidetracked by either injuries or on-mound struggles, are also on the lengthy list.

"Right now, Milton's been good, Vargas has been good, and they're definitely in the hunt for this thing," Torre said. "I don't have a guy we're looking at most right now. We're taking all the information and we're digesting it. We have time to see these guys pitch and stretch them out some, and they have time to show where they are."

Meanwhile, top Dodgers prospect Ivan DeJesus Jr. broke his right leg sliding into home plate during a B game against the Brewers. DeJesus, the organization's minor league player of the year for 2008, was taken off the field on a cart and X-rays revealed he had a broken lower tibia.

The 21-year-old son of former major league shortstop Ivan DeJesus was taken to a hospital and will remain there overnight while a decision is made whether he needs surgery on the leg. Torre said the shortstop is likely done for the season.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy missed Monday's game against the Royals to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in San Francisco. Bochy had tears in his labrum and biceps repaired and is expected to rejoin the club Tuesday.

Bench coach Ron Wotus managed the team in Bochy's place.

WANG RETURNS (6:05 p.m. ET)
Chien-Ming Wang made his first appearance since partially tearing a tendon in his foot running the bases against Houston in June, pitching two scoreless innings for the Yankees in a 5-5 tie with the Astros.

"I feel good," Wang said. "Nothing wrong."

Wang, who threw 23 pitches, said he felt "about the same" as he has in previous seasons, including when he won 19 games in both 2006 and 2007.

"I think when you have an injury like that, you watch how they push off and he looked the same as before he got hurt," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "That means he's comfortable with the way he feels. If he's comfortable with the way he feels, we're obviously a lot more comfortable."

Meawhile, Jorge Posada, scratched from the Yankees' starting lineup Saturday because of minor soreness in his surgically repaired right shoulder, went 1-for-3, including an RBI single, as the designated hitter. He also threw at 100 feet before the game.

The Cubs have a couple of unlikely bullpen candidates hoping to win jobs in Mesa. Chad Fox, who has undergone three Tommy John surgeries on his right elbow, signed a minor league contract in January. And Mike Stanton, who ranks second to Jesse Orosco on baseball's career list with 1,178 appearances, is giving it another shot after signing a minor league deal at age 41.

Stanton didn't pitch in the majors last year after being released by Cincinnati in April. He continued to throw until July, then shut it down for several weeks when nobody called. When he resumed working out, it was with the help of a personal trainer for the first time in his career.

"There's no doubt in my mind I can still do this,'' Stanton said. "I can still compete. The right situation didn't come up after the Reds let me go, so I had a great summer with my family.

"I didn't think I'd have any problem getting somebody to invite me to spring training, but I wanted it to be the right situation where I'd have a chance to make the club. I didn't want to be away from the family just to go through the motions.''

Stanton has been in pro ball since 1987, and this is his first spring training in Arizona.

"My god, it's dry out here,'' he said.

-- Jerry Crasnick,

Brad Lidge has yet to pitch in a spring training game. But things are starting to look up for the Phillies closer.

That's because Lidge, who has been bothered by tightness in his right forearm, had a solid bullpen session Monday.

"I felt for the first time this spring like I have a fighting chance at getting somebody out," Lidge told "Before I was wondering how I was going to do it."

Lidge also said he's on schedule for the April 5 season opener but hopes to pitch about 10 Grapefruit League games before that.

"The timetable right now is pretty good," Lidge told "[Monday] I threw well enough to be competitive, but I've got a little ways to go."


Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia threw 28 pitches over two innings in a simulated game Monday in Tampa, Fla.

The expected Opening Day starter made 14 pitches in both innings against Hideki Matsui and Kevin Cash in preparation for his first spring training start Friday night.

"Just trying to get a feel for it, the first time throwing to guys without a [pitching] screen up," Sabathia said. "It felt good."

Matsui, coming back from left knee surgery last Sept. 22, is expected to make his first spring appearance as the designated hitter in the next few days.


Cleveland Indians closer Kerry Wood threw 40 pitches in the bullpen for the second straight day, reported, a demand he likely won't have to face once he's deemed ready again for live games.

"If I throw more than 40 in one inning," Wood said, "we probably lost."

Wood, 31, had taken several days off last week with soreness in his lower back.

"I feel great," Wood said, according to the Web site.


Washington Nationals outfielder Adam Dunn will replace Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe on Team USA's roster for the World Baseball Classic.

Hawpe was injured after a collision at second base during a spring training game Friday against the Anaheim Angels and received four stitches.

Hawpe had been expected to join Team USA on Sunday night in Clearwater, Fla., according to

"You get to play for your country," Dunn said, according to the site. "It's a good thing to get in serious games and break up the monotony of spring. I would assume your concentration level [is at an all-time high]. I would kind of compare it to the playoffs. All the games are a must-win."

Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb threw a bullpen session consisting of 30 pitches Sunday and said he "felt great."

Webb, who was scratched from his spring training debut on Saturday because of elbow stiffness, is on track to pitch Wednesday against the Mexican national team.

"I felt real good," he said, according to the Arizona Republic. "I felt great. Almost 100 percent, I'd say. I had no problems warming up. I threw every pitch, fastball, change-up, curveball."



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