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Tuesday, March 26
Updated: March 29, 12:52 PM ET
Stottlemyre throws 94 pitches, says he's ready

ESPN.com news services

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Todd Stottlemyre

Arizona Diamondbacks: Todd Stottlemyre threw 94 pain-free pitches in a game involving minor league players Thursday and pronounced himself on target for his return to the majors on April 9.

Curt Schilling threw 64 pitches for the opposing team in the game at Bank One Ballpark. Schilling's team won 2-0.

"It's the best I've felt as far as putting it all together," Stottlemyre said.

Stottlemyre, who missed all of last season because of a nerve problem in his shoulder, is mounting what he promises will be his final comeback of a career that has been hampered by injuries since he signed with Arizona before the 1999 season.

The Diamondbacks are expected to place Stottlemyre on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 25. That would make him eligible to pitch April 9 in San Diego. Arizona won't need a fifth starter until that game.

Stottlemyre initially planned to start next Wednesday at Bank One Ballpark against San Diego. But he and the team's trainers and doctors decided to slow down his comeback because of some weakness that developed after his early spring outings.

"I'm not starting on April 3 because I had to make a wise decision and be honest with how my body was feeling," Stottlemyre said. "After the first two or three starts, my body wasn't rebounding or recuperating the way I wanted to recuperate."

He does not consider his delayed return a setback.

"A setback will be when I pack my bags and it's all over and I can't pitch anymore," Stottlemyre said.

He plans to throw 100 to 105 pitches in a minor league game in five or six days as a final tuneup.

Schilling, meanwhile, said he felt good about the way he pitched because he "felt miserable" before he took the mound.

"I feel right now I'm where I need to be to pitch on Tuesday," Schilling said. "When I take the ball, I'm very confident I can go nine."

Carl Everett

Texas Rangers: Carl Everett, booed during his first appearance at his old spring training park, homered in the first inning to send the Rangers over the Boston Red Sox 17-2 Thursday.

Everett, seen by many as a disruptive player during his time in Boston, also had an RBI double.

Texas had 22 hits, including six home runs and eight doubles. Ivan Rodriguez, Mike Lamb and Herbert Perry all homered for the Rangers.

Texas starting pitcher Kenny Rogers was scratched because of tightness in his left hamstring. Manager Jerry Narron said it was a precautionary move, and Rogers would have started if it was a regular-season game.

Rogers' replacement, Anthony Telford, threw three shutout innings, allowing two hits.

Boston starter Frank Castillo was hit hard in three innings, allowing three runs and five hits.

Irabu makes Rangers' squad; Park update: The Texas Rangers purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Hideki Irabu from Oklahoma of the Pacific Coast League on Thursday.

Texas then announced Irabu will be on the Opening Day roster.

The Rangers also placed right-handed pitcher Danny Kolb on the 60-day disabled list with a partial tear of his right rotator cuff.

With the moves, the Rangers have 31 players remaining on the major league spring training roster. Also, Chan Ho Park has reported improvement with his strained right hamstring today.

He's scheduled to pitch the regular season opener on Monday night in Oakland.

Seattle Mariners: Movie actor Kevin Costner took the field for real today in a split-squad baseball game against the Mariners.

The M's were playing their Class-A affiliate -- the San Bernardino Stampede -- in California. Costner played shortstop. He went oh-for-3 at the plate but scored a run. And then he took the mound and walked 58-year-old Seattle pinch-hitter Lou Piniella -- who also happens to be the M's manager.

The Mariners' split-squad won the game by a score of 12-to-4.

Carlos Zambrano

Chicago Cubs: Don't assume the Cubs roster is set just because they're down to 25 players.

The Cubs pared their roster Thursday by placing Tom Gordon and Bill Mueller on the 15-day disabled list and returning infielder Angel Echevarria and reliever Joe Borowski to minor league camp.

But after another horrendous outing by reliever Carlos Zambrano, Cubs manager Don Baylor said more moves are possible before Monday's season opener in Cincinnati.

"That's unacceptable," Baylor said after the Cubs' 22-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox. "Arizona or not, spring training or not, that's unacceptable.

"Just a good outing alone would probably have secured (a roster spot), but I can't live with that. I just can't."

Zambrano gave up six runs, four hits and two walks in one-third of an inning against the White Sox. He now has a 14.18 ERA for the spring.

"You have to have command. Throwing strikes has always been about command, not how hard you throw," Baylor said. "We get into situations like today, you burn up a bullpen during the season doing that. Coming out of spring training, he can't do that."

Ben Sheets

Milwaukee Brewers: The Anaheim Angels opened the game with nine straight hits off Ben Sheets and beat the Brewers 17-5 Thursday.

Sheets, who will start Tuesday's opener at Houston, gave up 13 hits and 10 runs in his sixth start of the spring. He was 4-0 with a 1.64 ERA in his previous exhibition outings.

After allowing seven runs, Sheets struck out Orlando Palmeiro, Adam Kennedy and Jeff DaVanon in order to end the first inning.

The Angels finished with 23 hits. Clay Bellinger, competing for the last roster spot, hit a solo homer and two doubles.

DaVanon drove in three runs and Orlando Palmeiro had three hits.

Kevin Appier, the Angels' No. 2 starter, gave up five hits and one run in five innings. He threw 73 pitches, down from the more than 100 he threw in his previous start March 23 against Arizona.

"It went good," he said. "I just threw regular, the normal progression. I'm ready."

Chicago White Sox: Ray Durham went 4-for-4 with a grand slam and six RBIs on Thursday as the White Sox routed the Cubs 22-7.

Magglio Ordonez's three-run homer capped a seven-run second inning for the White Sox. Durham's slam was the highlight of an eight-run onslaught in the third.

Jesus Sanchez, a reliever who got the start after the Cubs traded Julian Tavarez on Wednesday, went two innings, giving up seven runs and six hits.

Reliever Carlos Zambrano gave up six runs, four hits and two walks in one-third of an inning.

"That's unacceptable. Arizona or not, spring training or not, that's unacceptable," Cubs manager Don Baylor said. "We get into situations like today, you burn up a bullpen during the season doing that. Coming out of spring training, he can't do that."

Todd Ritchie (2-0) got the win, giving up three runs and seven hits over five innings.

Ordonez finished 2-for-3 with four RBI, while Scott Bikowski hit a three-run homer in the eighth.

New York Yankees: Shoulder discomfort prompted the Yankees to make center fielder Bernie Williams the designated hitter in Thursday night's game against Cincinnati.

Williams expects to be ready to play in the outfield on Opening Day on Monday at Baltimore.

"It tells me it's not serious if I can swing from both sides," Williams said. "It's like this every year. I go through some weakness."

Williams has missed time this spring because of left hamstring and right calf injuries.

"I'm not really concerned," Williams said.

Yankees left fielder Rondell White reported no problems after playing five innings in the field during a minor league game Thursday.

It was the first time White has played defense this spring. He had been the DH for Triple-A Columbus the previous three days after being sidelined since Feb. 25 by a strained left rib cage.

Yankees manager Joe Torre plans to watch White on Friday before making a decision on his Opening Day status.

"Again, there's an outside chance," Torre said. "It's not right to make a choice without watching him."

White has been on the disabled list eight times during his major league career.

"Threw a ball and didn't feel anything," White said. "Felt good to be out there again. Didn't have any pain."

White went 0-for-4, but had six hits in 17 at-bats overall.

Third baseman Robin Ventura, who sprained his left ankle Monday, might play in Saturday's spring training finale.

"Robin wants to play, and we'll try to make that happen," Torre said.

Yankees catcher Jorge Posada was back in the starting lineup for the game against the Reds. He missed two days with lower back tightness.

Sojo won't make team: The team informed veteran utilityman Luis Sojo Thursday that he won't make the Opening Day roster unless an injury opens a spot.

In 2000, the popular Sojo drove in the World Series-clinching run with an ninth-inning single in Game 5 against the New York Mets.

"To be, he was the ultimate team player," Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams said. "He was one of the guys who kept the team together."

The Yankees claimed Sojo off waivers from Seattle on Aug. 22, 1996. He was part of four World Series and five AL pennant winners with the Yankees.

"He's been here every year I've been here," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "This is not fun. I'm sure he's disappointed. He took it as a professional."

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner plans to offer Sojo, 36, a position in the organization should he decide to retire.

"We would like to keep him in the organization," Torre said. "He will always be thought of fondly by me and the fans of New York."

Wade Miller

Houston Astros: Wade Miller pitched five scoreless innings and had a three-run triple as the Astros defeated the Kansas City Royals 6-1 on Thursday.

The Astros also got offensive help from Jeff Bagwell, who was 2-for-2 with his seventh home run of spring training, and Morgan Ensberg, who finished 1-for-3 with a two-run double.

Bagwell put the finishing touches on the best Grapefruit League performance of his career. He had a .442 average (23-for-52), seven home runs and a team-high 22 RBI.

Miller, who scattered just one hit with two strikeouts, still wasn't pleased with his performance.

"I didn't spot the ball where I needed, but I had some good movement," said Miller, who will start on opening day. "I'll work on that in my next bullpen and hopefully it will be around in five days."

Minnesota Twins: The Twins set their Opening Day roster Thursday, making four moves to get the club down to 25 players.

Right-handed pitcher Matt Kinney and catcher Matthew LeCroy were optioned to Triple-A Edmonton in the Pacific Coast League, left-handed pitcher Mike Duvall was placed on the 60-day disabled list and infielder David Lamb was reassigned to minor league camp.

Minor injuries to backup catcher Tom Prince and utility player Denny Hocking forced general manager Terry Ryan and manager Ron Gardenhire to wait until the club's final day in Fort Myers to decide on Lamb and LeCroy. Prince was recovering from a pulled hamstring and Hocking had some irritation in his left knee.

Kinney had been battling right-hander Kyle Lohse for the fifth spot in the Twins' rotation. But Lohse, the fifth starter in the second half of 2001, finished the spring with a 2-0 record, a 1.13 ERA and 17 strikeouts, to Kinney's 1-0, 4.64 ERA and 14 strikeouts.

On Wednesday, Brian Buchanan was named the starter in right field and Dustan Mohr made the roster as the fourth outfielder. Joining Hocking and Mohr on the bench will be infielders Jay Canizaro and Warren Morris.

St. Louis Cardinals: Manager Tony La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday that Mike Matheny and Mike DiFelice will split time behind the plate for the Cardinals, rather than have Matheny return as the dominant member of a catching rotation.

"I'm not planning on having one guy catching four or five games a week while the other guy gets one or two," La Russa said.

La Russa said the move was designed to keep both catchers sharper deeper into the season.

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