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Sunday, March 2
Dodgers happy with Brown, Dreifort debuts

Associated Press

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers have paid Kevin Brown and Darren Dreifort a lot of money the last two years and received little in the way of production.

The team hopes for a better return on its investment this season. If Sunday is any indication, there's cause for optimism.

Brown and Dreifort made their first appearances of the spring in a 10-5 loss to the Houston Astros and both were very impressive.

More important, both pitchers said they felt no pain afterward.

"Brown had a very good inning, Dreifort had two very good innings,'' Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "For one day, was it a little better than I anticipated it being? Yes.''

But, Tracy was quick to add, what happens in the future is much more important.

Brown pitched a perfect inning with two strikeouts. Dreifort allowed two hits and three unearned runs in two innings while walking none and striking out three -- including Jose Vizcaino and Jeff Bagwell, the first two batters he faced.

I thought he looked real good,'' Bagwell said. "Dreif's got great stuff, no doubt about that. He's throwing free and easy, good movement.''

Regarding Brown, Bagwell said: "He's one of the best in the game. He's worked to get back.''

New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera worked a scoreless ninth inning in his spring debut and was the winning pitcher as the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 5-4 Sunday.

Erick Almonte hit an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to win it for the Yankees.

New York is taking it slow this spring with Rivera after he struggled with shoulder problems last season.

"I had a good inning,'' Rivera said. "I feel real good. I'm where I want to be. My mind is free. I have no worries. No doubts.''

Tampa Bay put runners on the corners with one out in the ninth against Rivera on an error and a hit-and-run single. The right-hander then struck out Gabby Martinez and induced an inning-ending foul pop from Chris Truby.

Rivera threw 10 of 13 pitches for strikes. He will probably pitch again Wednesday.

"If he feels good, we feel good,'' manager Joe Torre said.

Aubrey Huff put Tampa Bay ahead 2-0 with a two-run homer in the first inning off Yankees starter Mike Mussina, who allowed four hits in two innings.

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (left shin) and second baseman Alfonso Soriano (right shoulder) returned from minor injuries.

Jeter had a single in three at-bats. Soriano went 1-for-3 with a double.

Johnson improving: Yankees designated hitter-first baseman Nick Johnson, who has been slowed by a sore left wrist, could resume taking batting practice Monday.

Johnson hit off a tee and took part in a soft toss session for the second straight day Sunday.

"Feels pretty good,'' Johnson said. "Very, very little pain. Nowhere near the other side of things. I'm happy.''

Florida Marlins: Ivan Rodriguez homered and drove in three runs, but the St. Louis Cardinals rallied three times Sunday for a 9-8 victory over the Florida Marlins.

Eduardo Perez homered and drove in four runs for the Cardinals, and Edgar Renteria added a two-run shot.

Rodriguez, who signed a $10 million, one-year contract with Florida as a free agent in the offseason, connected for a two-run homer off Woody Williams in the first inning.

The 10-time All-Star catcher added an RBI single and scored in a four-run fifth.

Still celebrating the birth of his daughter, Andreanna, on Feb. 7 back home in Puerto Rico, Perez hit a two-run double in a four-run fifth.

His first home run of the spring, a two-run shot, capped a three-run ninth off Mike Judd.

San Diego Padres: Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield, who works in San Diego's front office as a vice president, returned to the field for the first time as a guest instructor for the Padres on Sunday.

"I think it's awesome,'' center fielder Mark Kotsay said. "I mean, it's a Hall of Fame player talking about becoming what we strive to be. He knows from experience.''

Winfield, wearing his old No. 31, spent 30 minutes, along with staff coach Davey Lopes, addressing the outfielders at the start of morning drills. He gave some demonstrations, flashing his old form of charging hard after balls and going into his over-the-top throwing motion that accounted for 166 outfield assists.

"I just have a lot to offer,'' he said. "I didn't come here as a coach or instructor, but we'd be wasting valuable knowledge and experience by not contributing there.''

In 22 seasons with six teams, Winfield batted .283, with 3,110 hits, 465 home runs and 1,833 RBI. He is among San Diego's top three in career games, hits, homers, RBI, runs, doubles, triples, walks and slugging percentage.

"You hear Hall of Famer, and obviously that means a lot,'' left fielder Phil Nevin said. "But to play 22 years and play at the level he played at is amazing. He was one of the most aggressive players you'll ever see. He played the game right.''

Winfield said he will stick around for a couple days this week and hopes to be back on the field later in the spring. But he said he has no interest in coaching full time.

Minnesota Twins: Jacque Jones went 3-for-3 with a three-run homer Sunday to help the Twins overcome a three-run homer by Manny Ramirez in a 6-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

Brad Radke pitched two hitless innings in his first spring start for the Twins.

Radke, who missed nearly half of the 2002 regular season with a pulled groin, spent some extra time in the weight room over the winter with the hope of preventing another injury.

"I felt pretty strong today,'' Radke said. "I felt better than I thought I was going to feel, to tell you the truth.''

Willie Banks, who pitched for the Twins from 1991-93, took the loss.

Dustan Mohr tied it at 4 with a homer off Ramiro Mendoza in the fourth, and Minnesota took a 6-4 lead in the fifth against Banks with an RBI groundout by Torii Hunter and an RBI double by Matthew LeCroy.

Boston's David Ortiz, competing for playing time at first base with Jeremy Giambi and Kevin Millar, went 2-for-2 with two doubles in his first game at Hammond Stadium in the visitor's dugout. Ortiz spent his entire major league career with the Twins until his release in December.

Tony Fiore gave up the three-run homer to Ramirez in the third and served up a solo shot to Giambi the next inning that gave the Red Sox a 4-3 lead. Michael Nakamura earned the victory with two scoreless innings, and Juan Rincon -- in competition for an open spot in the Twins' bullpen -- got the save.

Boston's Nomar Garciaparra, who went 0-for-3, sustained a bruise on the heel of his left hand but should be OK by Monday.

Chicago White Sox: Bartolo Colon and Mark Buehrle each pitched three strong innings to lead the Chicago White Sox over an Arizona Diamondbacks split squad 3-2 Sunday.

Byung-Hyun Kim, hoping to move from closer to starter this season, started for the Diamondbacks and gave up three runs and four hits in two innings.

New White Sox closer Billy Koch struck out two in the ninth inning for his first save of the spring.

Colon allowed one earned run on two hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. He threw 41 pitches, 27 for strikes, to help the White Sox to their first win in three games against Arizona this spring.

"I was trying to get strikes first,'' Colon said. "I wasn't afraid to get hit.''

Buehrle, who went 19-12 last season, gave up just one hit and struck out three.

"I did pretty good myself, so it's a great thing to see,'' he said. "But it's the first game of the spring, so you can't get too hyped up.

Toronto Blue Jays: Cory Lidle pitched two perfect innings and the Blue Jays roughed up a wild Randy Wolf in an 8-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.

Jim Thome went 0-for-5 and stranded eight runners, four in scoring position. He never hit the ball out of the infield.

Dave Hollins hit a three-run homer for Philadelphia. Mike Colangelo's solo shot for Toronto broke a 5-all tie in the seventh inning.

"I wanted to work the ball inside on the hitters and I did that,'' said Lidle, who threw only 14 pitches. "I used my fastball, curve and cutter in the game, then threw 16 more pitches on the side in the bullpen.''

Colangelo's homer was part of a three-run seventh off loser Eric Junge. Gary Majewski went three innings, allowing one run on five hits for the win.

Toronto scored five runs off Wolf, who allowed four hits and walked three in 2 2/3 innings. He threw only 28 of his 54 pitches for strikes.

Colorado Rockies: Scott Elarton, pitching for the first time since shoulder surgery last spring, got Colorado off to a good start Sunday with two hitless innings, then the Rockies came from behind with two runs in the ninth to beat Anaheim 8-7.

"I'll try not to smile too much,'' said Elarton, competing for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. "It was fun again. The last time I was on the mound, it wasn't a lot of fun.

"I'm surprised I threw one strike to the first guy, let alone two. I had no idea where it was going. I felt like I threw a few decent fastballs. My command was bad,'' added the right-hander, who walked two.

"The arm feels great. I'll definitely be sore tomorrow, but that's a good thing.''

Elarton underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right rotor cuff on March 8 after being acquired in a July 2000 deal that sent Pedro Astacio to Houston. Elarton was 17-7 for the Astros in 2000, then went 4-8 for Houston and 0-2 for Colorado in 2001.

Elarton, 27, became a free agent and signed with the Rockies during the past offseason after they failed to offer him a contract by the deadline in December.

Anaheim's Scott Schoeneweis, bumped from the rotation by rookie John Lackey late last June, gave up four runs on five hits while working the first two innings.

Cincinnati Reds: Adam Dunn drove in two runs and Jimmy Haynes pitched two solid innings in his first outing of the spring as the Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-3 Sunday.

Haynes, who will start the first game at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park on March 31 against Pittsburgh, allowed one run and one hit.

His first exhibition start was pushed back three days because of mild tendinitis in his pitching elbow. He walked one and struck out one.

Aramis Ramirez hit an RBI single in the first inning for Pittsburgh, then Haynes retired the side in order in the second.

Haynes was 15-10 for the Reds last year after going 8-17 for Milwaukee the previous season.

"I felt a little awkward in the first inning because I hadn't pitched in a game since last September and hadn't thrown much in the last week,'' Haynes said.

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