The Associated Press
The Houston Astros waived starting pitcher Shane Reynolds, deciding to use young pitchers Tim Redding and Jeriome Robertson in their rotation instead.
Reynolds, who said he had fully recovered from a season-ending back operation last summer, was effective at times during spring training despite an 0-1 record and 5.87 ERA. Throughout the exhibition season, the Astros listed Reynolds as their No. 3 starter.
"This was a very difficult decision," general manager Gerry Hunsicker said. "But from what we saw this spring, with the options that we had, the goal is to take the best team to Houston with the best chance to win. I just felt that we had better options."
Roy Oswalt, Wade Miller and Brian Moehler head the Houston rotation. But the Astros, among the favorites to win the NL Central, will count on a couple of youngsters at the back end.
Redding and Robertson have pitched well this spring.
"You had the trade off - two talented young kids who are unproven at this level versus a veteran that has performed well at this level, but has recently struggled and has now had back surgery in the background," Hunsicker said.
Reynolds, who turned 35 Wednesday, had surgery June 13 to repair a pinched nerve in his back. He went 3-6 with a 4.86 ERA in 13 starts before then.
ROYALS: Kansas City will begin the season without its best player. Outfielder Carlos Beltran was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right oblique muscle.
Beltran has had at least 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs the past two seasons. Without him, Michael Tucker will open the season in center field, while Brandon Berger and Dee Brown split time in right.
"Obviously, having Beltran out is a loss," hitting coach Jeff Pentland said.
Beltran hit .310 with 10 RBIs in 10 exhibition games before he was injured taking a swing in batting practice.
METS: Catcher Mike Piazza's appeal for his five-game suspension will be heard after Monday's season-opener at Shea Stadium.
Piazza was suspended for charging the mound after Dodgers pitcher Guillermo Mota hit him with a pitch on March 12. He later went into the Dodgers' clubhouse in search of Mota.
Mota had his five-game suspension reduced to four games this week.
To build up his pitch count, David Cone will stay behind in Florida when the Mets break camp.
PADRES: Outfielders Brady Anderson and Roberto Kelly failed to make the San Diego Padres as non-roster invitees.
WHITE SOX: Chicago placed right-hander Danny Wright on the 15-day disabled list.
RANGERS: The pilot of an Apache attack helicopter shot down over Iraq and taken prisoner is a relative of catcher Todd Greene's.
Chief Warrant Officer Ron Young, 27, is from the Army's 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Hood, Texas.
"He's my wife's cousin, but we've been married 17 years, so he is part of my family," Greene said
Right-hander Colby Lewis was picked Thursday to be the fourth starter.
Rookie third baseman Mark Teixeira and fellow third baseman Hank Blalock will open the season on the team's 25-man major league squad.
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