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Around the Cactus League

San Francisco Giants: Barry Bonds stayed home with the flu Saturday.


The slugger missed spring training workouts because of the same
illness that has affected several Giants players the past two
weeks. Infielders Ray Durham and Lance Niekro also were sidelined
by the bug, while pitcher Matt Morris and first baseman Rich Aurilia have returned to work after staying home earlier this week.


In Saturday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Morris felt his body betraying him again, though not in the same ways that turned his first season
with the Giants into such a disappointment.

Nearly every pitch Morris threw in his spring debut
felt wrong, from his windup to its destination. The right-hander
repeatedly left the simplest deliveries hanging over the plate -- and the Brewers pounded him for seven runs in 1 2/3 innings.


"This is the last thing I was expecting," Morris said with a
grimace as he slumped on a metal chair in the otherwise empty
visitors' clubhouse at the Brewers' spring training complex.


Elsewhere around the Cactus League:

Chicago Cubs: Cubs volatile ace Carlos Zambrano pitched two dominating innings on Friday and then made some bold predictions.

"I believe this year I will win the Cy Young and I will enjoy that," Zambrano said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "And besides that, we will win the World Series. I guarantee you that. I have faith."

Michael Barrett might now start predicting stolen base titles. Not known for his speed, the Chicago Cubs' catcher doubled and turned a deep fly ball into an
inside-the-park home run during the Cubs' 5-5 tie with the Oakland
Athletics in 10 innings on Saturday.


"This kid here motored around the bases pretty good," manager Lou Piniella
said. "Barrett's an athlete."

Colorado Rockies: Colorado slugger Todd Helton was a late scratch with a swollen right knee. He's day to day. Finley hit for him in the cleanup spot
and John Mabry replaced Helton at first base.

Los Angeles Angels: The Angels turned a triple play
against the Colorado Rockies in the third inning of their spring
training game Saturday.


With runners at first and second, Steve Finley hit a liner off
right-hander Dustin Moseley that first baseman Casey Kotchman
caught just inches from the ground.


Kotchman tossed to Moseley covering first base, retiring Garrett
Atkins for the second out. Moseley then threw to shortstop Erick
Aybar, who stepped on second base to force out Kaz Matsui and
complete the triple play.

Oakland Athletics: Dan Haren hasn't had a lot of luck pitching in
spring training during his major league career. Adding a new pitch
to his repertoire figured to make things even tougher on the
Oakland Athletics right-hander.


That wasn't the case Saturday when Haren made his first start of
the Cactus League season. Though he gave up a first-pitch home run
to Chicago Cubs shortstop Ronny Cedeno, Haren looked strong during
his two innings of work and walked off the mound feeling better
about himself than he has in past springs.


"It's tough to pitch here in Arizona," said Haren, who struck
out two and allowed two hits. "My ERA has been extremely high in
spring training in the past. I just blame it on the air. This would
be one of the better outings."


Haren, 14-13 with a 4.12 ERA in 2006, has been working on adding
a cutter to his pitches. He used it briefly Saturday and will
continue to work on it as the spring progresses.

Milwaukee Brewers: Right-hander Ben Sheets has come along way since his last spring training appearance.


He's happy with the results so far, but knows work remains after
making his first start in the Milwaukee's 12-8 loss to the San
Francisco Giants on Saturday.


"I haven't broken out the breaking ball yet, so everything's
relative. But I felt really good. I threw strikes, I worked in
changeups," Sheets said.


Sheets threw 22 of his 32 pitches for strikes, giving up two
runs on two hits over two innings in his first spring training
start since leaving a game against Oakland last year with an
irritated muscle in his right side.

Brewers manager Ned Yost said Sheets has a plan.


"Benny gets his arm in shape and his first time or two or even
three out, including the intrasquad game, Benny goes fastball,
changeup," Yost said. "Then he starts to break in his curveball
and brings it all together by the end of the spring."

Texas Rangers: Sammy Sosa got his first hit of spring
training, and Kenny Lofton and Ian Kinsler each had run-scoring
doubles to help the Rangers beat Kansas City 8-5 on Saturday.


Sosa went 1-for-3 with a single and a strikeout in his first
"A" game for the Rangers, who rocked Royals starter Odalis Perez
for five hits and four runs in just 1 1/3 innings.


The rough outing by Perez, who also had two strikeouts and is
likely to by the Royals' No. 2 pitcher this season, didn't bother
Kansas City manager Buddy Bell.


"He got his work in and threw strikes," Bell said. "Everything worked as expected, and I was looking for that."


Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.