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Wood to be followed by Maddux, then Prior

Chicago Cubs: Kerry Wood will start the Cubs opener in Cincinnati on April 5 and be followed by Greg Maddux and Mark Prior.

Manager Dusty Baker wants to use Maddux, the four-time Cy Young
Award winner who re-signed with the Cubs this month, and his crafty
assortment of pitches between his two young power pitchers Wood and
Prior.

The rest of the rotation will be Matt Clement and Carlos
Zambrano.

"I'm going with Prior after Maddux to give a different look,
plus you know Prior can learn a lot from Maddux, I think," Baker
said Saturday.

The way the rotation is set up means Maddux will not start a
game during Chicago's second series in Atlanta against the team he
pitched for the last 11 years.

Instead, Maddux will be slated to go in the Cubs' home opener
April 12 against the Pirates.

It'll be the second straight opening day assignment for Wood,
who on Friday agreed to a three-year, $32.5 million contract.

Minnesota Twins: Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz sprained his left knee Saturday during a fielding
drill at the team's first full-squad workout.

There was no timetable for Mientkiewicz's recovery, although the
injury did not appear to be serious. He will be re-evaluated
Sunday, manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Mientkiewicz was behind Justin Morneau, who missed a ground ball
hit at him. Mientkiewicz jumped to get out of the way and landed
awkwardly on the edge of the grass behind first base.

Mientkiewicz, a one-time Gold Glove winner who batted .300 with
11 homers and 65 RBIs last season, signed a two-year, $7 million
contract less than two weeks ago.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Randall Simon finally arrived in spring
camp with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, his lateness caused
by his mother's death.

Simon's mother passed away in earlier this month after a lengthy
illness. That delayed his contract signing with the Pirates until
last week, and kept him out of camp for two days while he obtained
a work visa.

"My mom was my life," Simon said. "She's in a good place.
That's the thing that gives me comfort."

Simon also has a slimmer physique, and attributes his weight
loss to the stress he endured during the winter. However, he looked
at ease on the practice field Saturday, peppering line drives as
soon as he entered the batting cage.

"That's Randall," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He
probably hits in his sleep."

Simon became available when he was not tendered a contract by
the Cubs in December. A month earlier, the Chicago acquired Florida
Marlins first baseman Derrek Lee, making Simon expendable.

Simon batted .276 with 16 home runs and 72 RBI in 124 games with
the Pirates and Cubs. He'll likely bat behind clean-up hitter Raul
Mondesi.

"Randall adds some much-needed offense to the middle of our
lineup," McClendon said.

Notes
Non-roster infielder Donaldo Mendez's arrival in camp is
still unknown. He has missed three workouts because of visa
complications and remains in Venezuela trying to clear up the
matter. ... The Pirates signed five players to one-year contracts
Saturday: pitchers Bobby Bradley and Mark Corey, infielders Jose
Castillo and Bobby Hill, and outfielder J.J. Davis. That leaves 13
unsigned players on the 40-man roster.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said
Saturday right-hander Victor Zambrano will be his opening-day
starter.

"He deserves it," Piniella said. "Based on what he did (last
season) and the ability he has."

The Devil Rays open the regular season against the New York Yankees in Japan on March 30.

Zambrano went 12-10 with a 4.21 ERA in 2003, leading the Devil
Rays in wins, starts (28), innings pitched (188 1-3) and strikeouts
(132) in his first full season as a starter. He also led the
American League in walks allowed (106), hit batters (20) and wild
pitches (15).

The Devil Rays and Yankees will play two games in Japan before
returning to Florida to finish spring training. The teams will
resume the regular season against each other with two games at
Tropicana Field on April 6-7.

While Piniella named Zambrano as the No. 1 starter, the
manager's pitching plans for Japan remain up in the air. The Devil
Rays also will play two exhibition games against the Hanshin Tigers
and Yomiuri Giants on the trip.

Right-hander Jeremi Gonzalez, 6-11 with a 3.91 ERA in 25 games,
is the projected No. 2 starter.

Atlanta Braves: Breaking with tradition, the Braves named 21-game winner Russ Ortiz as the opening day starter
before playing their first spring training game.

Manager Bobby Cox, who usually waits until the final days of
camp to announce his rotation, surprised everyone Saturday when he
laid out his plans. Ortiz will be followed by Mike Hampton,
newcomer John Thomson and Horacio Ramirez.

The Braves haven't decided on a fifth starter, expected to be
one of the major issues this spring.

Ortiz was the logical choice to lead the rotation after going
21-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 2003, the first 20-win season of his
career.

The right-hander will start the April 6 opener at Turner Field
against the New York Mets, who already announced that longtime
Atlanta starter Tom Glavine will go for them in the first game.

Cox also said rookie Roman Colon will start an exhibition game
against the University of Georgia on Wednesday. The following day,
Thomson will start the Grapefruit League opener against Los
Angeles.