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Around the Grapefruit League

Baltimore Orioles: Erik Bedard will start the Orioles' season opener in Minnesota on April 2, a move
manager Sam Perlozzo said validates the left-hander's status as the
team's top pitcher.

"There's always been so much talk about potential, his
potential. I think in this particular case, I think he knows his
potential is here now," Perlozzo said.

Bedard, who was 15-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 33 starts last year,
was informed of the assignment by Perlozzo during the morning
stretch before the Orioles hosted the Boston Red Sox in an
exhibition game.

"He just said, 'You're starting the first game.' I said, 'OK.'
... It is an honor, I guess, to start the first game of the season,
to be called the ace, I guess," Bedard said. "But other than
that, anybody could be the ace on our team."

Elsewhere in the Grapefruit League:

Boston Red Sox: Curt Schilling threw 98 pitches over six solid
innings in a game featuring mostly Triple-A players at Boston's
minor league complex.

Schilling mixed all his pitches and hopes his
next start will prove to Francona that he's prepared to go deep
into the game during Boston's season opener at Kansas City on April
2.

"I don't want to be on a pitch count," he said. "I know I'm
40, but I don't think the ace of the staff should be on a pitch
count."

Schilling gave up one run -- a homer by highly touted Reds
prospect Jay Bruce -- and four hits. The right-hander struck out six
and didn't walk a batter in front of general manager Theo Epstein
and about 100 others, many of them young Red Sox prospects.

Cleveland Indians: Manager Eric Wedge
said Cliff Lee, who will begin the season on the disabled list
with an abdominal strain, played catch pain-free on Saturday.

"That's a good first step," Wedge said.

Houston Astros: Houston closer Brad Lidge pitched a live batting
session on Sunday after struggling with his slider in his last
outing.

"He wanted to work on the slider -- the release point on
his slider," manager Phil Garner said. "He was trying to get his arm angle in
the right slot and get a good release point."

Minnesota Twins: Two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana pitched five shutout innings
Sunday, allowing one hit and leading the Twins to a 4-3
victory over a Phillies' split squad in Fort Myers,
Fla.

Santana walked three and struck out two, lowering his ERA to
0.64 in spring training.

"All of my pitches are there," Santana said. "Before, my
changeup wasn't there. Now, it's there. The mechanics are all
there."

AL MVP Justin Morneau homered for the second consecutive day for
Minnesota and is 5-for-6 in his last two games.

After Sunday's game, the Twins reassigned pitchers Carmen Cali, Jason
Miller, Jeremy Cummings, Kevin Slowey and outfielder Denard Sapn to minor league camp, bringing
the number of players in camp down to 42 players.

"We need to get
down to workable numbers," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Slowey, a second-round draft pick out of Winthrop University in
2005, said he doubted that a solid performance would have kept him
in the Twins clubhouse this spring as his competition for rotation spots -- Scott Baker, Matt Garza, Glen Perkins, Sidney Ponson and others -- have had solid springs.

"That's a great problem for these guys to have," Slowey said
of the Twins management. "Any time everyone is doing well, that's
good for the team."

New York Mets: Orlando Hernandez gave the Mets a scare when he left with a cramp in his
right hamstring after reaching base on a fourth-inning bunt. The
pain went away immediately, but the team didn't want to take any
chances, so El Duque was removed from the game.

The 41-year-old right-hander had already thrown four innings.

"I think my arm is more important to me than my hamstring,"
Hernandez said. "My hamstring is OK. I'm feeling good. I threw
every pitch."

Hernandez, who missed a few days of spring training because of
arthritis in his neck, allowed two runs and three hits.

New York Yankees: Mike Mussina was upbeat after his latest
start.

Mussina gave up three hits over five scoreless innings in the Yankees' 8-1 victory over the Pirates on
Sunday.

"Today was a big day," Mussina said. "It was important today,
making adjustments and making improvements to feel more like I was
pitching than just standing out there throwing."

Mussina had struggled this spring, calling his previous outing
on March 13 "frustrating." He struck out two and walked one
Sunday, throwing 44 of 67 pitches for strikes.

Philadelphia Phillies: Jamie Moyer on Monday will announce plans for
his Moyer Foundation to open Camp Erins -- bereavement camps for
young children -- in every Major League Baseball city.

St. Louis Cardinals: Jason Isringhausen started and faced three batters Sunday in St.
Louis' 5-4 victory over the New York Mets. The closer threw 15
pitches, nine for strikes, and struck out Carlos Beltran looking on
a cutter.
Isringhausen has pitched two scoreless innings in his comeback
from September hip surgery and looks on pace to be ready for Opening Day.

Also, Tony La Russa had a closed-door meeting with outfielder Preston Wilson about Wilson's recent comments regarding his spring training
approach.

"I'm disappointed he missed the message," La Russa said.
"I've explained it to him -- you just don't get ready for April
1."

Cardinals right fielder Juan Encarnacion (wrist surgery) remains
behind schedule and almost certainly will not be ready for Opening
Day. Center fielder Jim Edmonds is on schedule
and, barring a setback, should get into a few games the final week
of spring training.

Washington Nationals: The Nats promoted Dmitri Young to their major league camp on Sunday and the slugger will compete with Travis Lee for the club's starting first base job.

Young went 2-for-3 in his first spring game Thursday, including a home run off the Dodgers' Jason Schmidt.

Also Sunday, Washington optioned first baseman Larry Broadway to Triple-A Columbus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.