By The Associated Press
COLORADO: The series in Chicago is the first of a 10-day, nine-game road trip, the longest of the season. While the Rockies are 11-4 at Coors Field, they're 4-10 on the road. "There are some issues that we have to deal with that other clubs don't deal with. Those aren't excuses, those are the realities of our situation," manager Clint Hurdle said of his club, which plays in high altitude in Denver. "I get excited about the opportunity this club has to establish its own identity. It might sound redundant, but it's the truth." ... RHP Shawn Chacon failed in his bid to match Brian Bohanon for the first beginning by a Rockies starter. Bohanon opened the 1999 season 5-0. ... Though Scott Elarton was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Thursday, Hurdle said he's pleased with the right-handed reliever's progress. Elarton had shoulder surgery a year ago. "We just want him to continue making the improvements he's been making," Hurdle said. "He's not where he wants to be yet. There's room for improvement. I just reiterated that we're so happy with the progress he's made, when he gets here, we want him to stay here. We want him 100 percent ready to compete to the best of his abilities when he gets here." ... Rockies pitchers kept the Cubs in the park, the first time in eight games they didn't give up a homer.
CHICAGO: The Cubs turned a season-high four double-plays on Friday. ... Closer Antonio Alfonseca, on the disabled list since March 21 with a strained hamstring, threw a bullpen session Friday. Manager Dusty Baker said a decision on his return will be made Saturday or Sunday. ... Six-time All-Star Will Clark is visiting the Cubs this weekend. Clark was one of the team's guest coaches at spring training, and Baker has asked him to make periodic visits. "Just give a refresher course to some of the guys," Baker said. "To help Corey Patterson and Hee Seop Choi, especially Corey's approach to hitting left-handers. Will hit left-handers as well as anybody." But don't expect Clark to turn coaching into a full-time gig. "I'm enjoying what I'm doing right here," Clark said. "This is nice. I get a chance to come in, see Dusty and some of the guys. I'm just coming to have some fun." ... There's a rare sight in the standings these days: the Cubs in first place. At 17-12, Chicago took a 11/2-game lead in the NL Central going into the weekend. "I like our position," Baker said. "We'd love to pad our lead. You don't win it in April, but you can certainly lose it."
MILWAUKEE: Reuben Quevedo is to start for the Brewers on Saturday. After a poor 2002 season in which he struggled to a 6-11 record and 5.76 ERA, Quevedo failed to make the opening-day roster. But he was 2-1 in five minor league starts with a 2.10 ERA. ... Brewer hitters hope to do better this season against Mets pitching. In 2002 they scored just 14 runs in six games. ... The Brewers on Friday lowered their mowers by a quarter-inch, reducing the height of infield grass to 13/4 inches and the outfield to 11/2 inches. The change came a day after Zach Day shut out the Brewers 5-0 with 21 groundouts, prompting 1B 1B Richie Sexson to complain that the tall grass hurt the club's offense.
NEW YORK: LHP John Franco threw batting practice Friday and could begin a rehabilitation assignment soon. Franco has been on the disabled list since March 28 while recovering from left elbow surgery. ... Enrique Cruz, selected by Milwaukee from the Mets in the winter meeting draft, is 0-for-11 this season, with 10 of those at-bats as a pinch-hitter.
FLORIDA: Last year, the Marlins pitchers had a 3.44 ERA against the Astros, their second best against any NL team (lowest was against St. Louis at 3.06). Houston batters managed only a .228 average against Florida last year ... The Marlins are 10-3 in games decided by two runs or fewer, including a 4-1 record in those games on the road.
HOUSTON: Adam Everett, brought up Friday, started against the Marlins and hit eighth. Everett, who was the 2002 opening day shortstop before hitting poorly and being sent down, was hitting .250 with one homer and nine RBIs at Triple-A. ... Houston's bullpen began Friday third in the NL with a 3.12 ERA and its 101 innings led the league.
MONTREAL: RHP Orlando Hernandez is to make his second rehab start on Saturday for Class A Brevard County, Fla. ... RHP Claudio Vargas makes his second career start, and first on the road, on Saturday at St. Louis. He allowed one run on two hits in six innings, but got no decision April 26 against the Astros, two days after being recalled from Triple-A Edmonton. ... OF Endy Chavez leads the team with 12 multi-hit games and had scored 10 runs in his last 11 starts. ... 3B Fernando Tatis has six multihit games after totaling 14 last season.
ST. LOUIS: Former home run king Mark McGwire made his first visit to Busch Stadium since retiring after the 2001 season, but did not speak to reporters. Manager Tony La Russa said he wouldn't joke about activating him, either. "All you're going to do is scare him and he'll never come back," La Russa said. "We've just got to pretend he's not even here." ... 1B Tino Martinez was eligible to play after serving a three-game suspension for fighting Diamondbacks pitcher Miguel Batista on April 20, but didn't start Friday. He and fellow left-handed hitting J.D. Drew were out against RHP Tomo Ohka because he throws a lot of forkballs. Both were expected to play Saturday. "He's really worked our lefties over," La Russa said of Ohka. ... La Russa said Eli Marrero, an OF and backup C, likely would start behind the plate on Saturday because he's worked well with RHP Garrett Stephenson.
PITTSBURGH: The Pirates, who have never been rained out in the previous 41 years they have visited Dodger Stadium, took batting practice Friday during a steady drizzle. ... Salomon Torres, who made his second start Friday night after replacing injured Josh Fogg in the rotation, is expected to make two more starts before Fogg returns from the DL. ... The Pirates, coming off a three-game sweep at San Diego, are 9-3 on the road - but 4-11 at home. ... Jack Wilson entered the Dodgers series batting .429 with runners in scoring position, second in the NL behind Jeff Bagwell's .529 mark. He entered Friday 13-for-28 with two homers and eight RBIs in seven games since being moved from eighth to second in the batting order. ... RHP Jeff Suppan, who makes his second road start on Saturday night against the Dodgers, lost his last nine road decisions last year with Kansas City. But that streak ended on opening day when he allowed a run and three hits over six innings in a 9-1 victory at Philadelphia. Suppan has received first-inning run support in each of his first five outings with the Pirates and is 4-1.
LOS ANGELES: A steady drizzle fell on Dodger Stadium during batting practice. There have been only 17 rainouts at Chavez Ravine since the ballpark opened in April 1962, and just two since April 21, 1988. ... LF Brian Jordan was back in the starting lineup after sitting out six games with a sore throat and grounding into a double play as a pinch-hitter on Thursday night. Manager Jim Tracy is taking an extra day with CF Dave Roberts, who also pinch-hit in the ninth inning against the Phillies while working his way back from a hamstring injury. ... OF-1B Darryl Ward, playing for the past week with an infected tooth, is scheduled to have his wisdom teeth pulled on Monday in Los Angeles. The Dodgers will fly to New York without him, but should have him available on Tuesday. ... Tracy believes that LHP Kazuhisa Ishii is overcoming the control problems that plagued him last season as a rookie, when he led the majors with 106 walks in 154 innings. "None of the starts he's had this year is anywhere close to the ones that I sat through a year ago," Tracy said "There are far less situations where he creates an opportunity for the opposition. It's like watching two different guys pitch, really. The changeup that he's throwing right now - that we saw virtually none of a year ago - has been an extremely effective pitch for him."
ATLANTA: OF Gary Sheffield left the team to go to Chicago for a funeral. He is not expected back until Sunday at the earliest. ... RHP John Smoltz had converted his last 27 save opportunities coming in. His last blown save was at Arizona last Aug. 6.
ARIZONA: RHP Curt Schilling will get his first start Saturday since his complete-game victory over Colorado on April 17. Two days later, he underwent an appendectomy in St. Louis. ... The team will have to make a roster move before Saturday's game because Schilling is on the 15-day disabled list. ... C Rod Barajas came in 8-for-11 since coming off the 15-day DL (left hamstring strain). He had four doubles, a homer and seven RBIs in that three-game span, including hits in seven consecutive at-bats, tying a franchise record.
PHILADELPHIA: RHP Kevin Millwood made his first start since no-hitting San Francisco on Sunday. His bid for consecutive no-hitters ended on his first pitch when Ramon Vazquez bounced a single past diving 1B Jim Thome. Cincinnati's Johnny Vander Meer remains the only pitcher to throw no-hitters in consecutive starts, in 1938. ... Only six NL pitchers have thrown shutouts this year, and the Phillies are the only team with two of them - Vicente Padilla and Millwood.
SAN DIEGO: The Padres, who've been no-hit six times in franchise history, faced a pitcher coming off a no-hitter for the third time. Besides Millwood, the Padres also faced two Dodgers coming off gems, Jerry Reuss in 1980 and Hideo Nomo in 1996. The Padres beat both Reuss and Nomo. ... Padres OF Shane Victorino said his shoulder was bruised but he was otherwise OK after slamming into the base of the stands while chasing a foul ball in Thursday's loss to Pittsburgh. "I'm good to go," Victorino said. ... RF Xavier Nady was back in the starting lineup after getting Thursday off, the first time this season he's had a day off.
CINCINNATI: OFs Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn hit nine home runs apiece in April, a feat last accomplished in Cincinnati by Johnny Bench, who did it in 1971. Tony Perez holds the club record for April homers, hitting 10 in 1970. ... The Reds, who lead the majors with 33 errors, have made at least one error in 22 of their 28 games. ... Entering the series, the Reds were 7-3 since a roster overhaul on April 19. Cincinnati made seven moves that day.
SAN FRANCISCO: The Giants are off to their best start in 30 years, but they lost their last two series, dropping two of three games to Philadelphia and the Chicago Cubs. ... The Giants have been rained out just 16 times since moving to San Francisco in 1958, but the wettest Northern California spring in recent history already has caused one rainout this season. The start of Friday's game was delayed by rain, and the Bay area is expected to see more rain all weekend. The Reds don't visit San Francisco again this season, making possible makeup dates difficult. ... SS Rich Aurilia was held out of the starting lineup for the fourth straight day with continuing eye problems. Aurilia's eyes aren't generating enough moisture, which makes it difficult to hit. "It's not like a hamstring, where I can go out there 90 percent," Aurilia said.
ANAHEIM: RHP Kevin Appier isn't too worried about Toronto's SARS outbreak anymore. "It looks like they have it pretty much contained," said Appier, who suggested a week and a half ago that they should move the series to Anaheim. ... Appier is scheduled to come off the 15-day disabled list Thursday. He strained the flexor muscle in his right forearm. "There's no pain," said Appier, who has thrown in the bullpen. ... Manager Mike Scioscia used Troy Glaus as the DH because of SkyDome's AstroTurf. Scioscia said he would probably DH Tim Salmon on Saturday and Garret Anderson on Sunday.
TORONTO: RHP Kelvim Escobar doesn't mind being a starter again because he thinks he'll get more money when he becomes a free agent after the season. "That's why I was very happy to go back to the rotation, because I know there are going to be like seven free agent closers next year, and they are like way, way ahead of me right now," Escobar said. "I want to make myself more valuable." Manager Carlos Tosca said Thursday the struggling Escobar will no longer be the closer. Escobar, who keeps getting shuffled from the bullpen to the rotation, has a 13.06 ERA and three saves. Opponents are hitting .448 against him. ... New closer Cliff Politte said he's confident he can handle the role. "A lot of closers are 6 (foot)-something, but I think I'll probably be all right," the 5-11 Politte said. "I've got a pretty good fastball and slider and my changeup has come along."
BOSTON: Red Sox prospect Manny Delcarmen will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The 21-year-old pitcher was 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA at Class-A Sarasota. ... Boston was 12-3 in its first 15 games decided by two runs or less. Last year, 38 of its 63 losses came in one- or two-run games. ... Manny Ramirez was intentionally walked with runners on second and third and two outs in the third. It was his fifth of the season, tying Alfonso Soriano for the AL lead.
MINNESOTA: RHP Brad Radke was suspended for five games for hitting a batter Wednesday against Tampa Bay. He has appealed. Minnesota coach Scott Ullger was suspended for one game, and he will serve it Saturday. ... The Twins have not won a season series against Boston since 1998. ... Minnesota has either swept or been swept in eight of its nine series.
TEXAS: 1B Rafael Palmeiro arrived in Cleveland poised to possibly join two exclusive lists. Palmeiro needs two home runs to become the 19th player to hit 500 in his career. If he manages to connect while he's at Jacobs Field, the 38-year-old would join Babe Ruth (1929) and Ted Williams (1960) as players who have reached the milestone in Cleveland. Ruth hit No. 500 at League Park off Indians pitcher Willis Hudlin and Williams hit his off Wynn Hawkins at Municipal Stadium. "I didn't know that," Palmeiro said. "That's pretty cool." ... 1B Herbert Perry could begin another rehab assignment soon at Double-A Frisco. Perry has been sidelined with a sore shoulder, bruised left knee and strained rib muscle. ... RHPs Jay Powell and Todd Van Poppel could rejoin the Rangers this weekend. Powell has made four rehab appearances at Frisco while recovering from a viral infection. Van Poppel, who hasn't made a major league start since Sept. 24, 2000, might be activated to start Saturday. He has been out all year with a strained right groin and has a 2.00 ERA in two minor league rehab starts.
CLEVELAND: While the Indians struggle, Cleveland fans are finding new places to spend their time. Through 12 home games, attendance at Jacobs Field is down 101,382 from a year ago, an average of 8,282 per game. Part of that can be blamed on Cleveland's 7-20 start, including a 3-9 mark at home. The cold weather hasn't helped, either. But it's strange to see so many empty seats. Even opposing players have noticed. "It's different," Angels 3B Troy Glaus said. "My first three or four years, it didn't matter if it was 20 degrees, snowing, a Tuesday night and we were 30 games out, there were 40,000 people here. It's very different." ... Manager Eric Wedge had OF Matt Lawton batting in the leadoff spot. Lawton, who has been in a slump all season, has hit second, third, fifth and sixth. Wedge has used 25 different lineups in 28 games. ... LHP Cliff Lee threw his first bullpen session at extended spring training without pain. Lee has been on the 60-day disabled list since spring training with an abdominal strain. The Indians expect him to be pitching at Triple-A Buffalo by mid-June.
TAMPA BAY: 3B Damion Easley made his first return to Comerica Park since being released by the Tigers in spring training. Easley played for the Tigers from 1996-2002, including an All-Star appearance in 1998. "I didn't know how Detroit was going to do with as many new faces as they have, but I didn't expect it to be that bad," he said. "They've got a bunch of young kids with a lot of lessons to learn in the big leagues. I'm not cheering for the Tigers, but I want my friends to do well. I hate to see them struggle like this." ... Easley remains unable to play the field with leg injuries after a collision with Carlos Delgado on April 23. Manager Lou Piniella said Easley will be limited to pinch-hitting and DH duties until Tuesday. ... Two other members of the 2002 Tigers started against Detroit - Chris Truby at 3B and George Lombard in LF.
DETROIT: Manager Alan Trammell said Matt Anderson has lost his job as the closer. Anderson, who has a 7.00 ERA in 10 appearances, will move to middle relief while the closer job is split among several pitchers. "This is all on me," Anderson said. "It doesn't have anything to do with how the rest of the team is playing. I just have to get things back together." ... Only two homers have been hit over the new fence in left field and fallen short of the old fence. Minnesota's Dustan Mohr did it on opening day and Dmitri Young hit one Tuesday against the Orioles. ... The Tigers were outscored 10-2 in the eighth and ninth innings of Thursday's doubleheader sweep by Baltimore. They led both games after seven innings.
OAKLAND: Slumping SS Miguel Tejada was moved into the cleanup spot for the first time this season. On Thursday night, he batted fifth after having made 146 straight starts in the third slot. Tejada hit .308 with 34 home runs and 131 RBIs last season in winning the AL MVP award, but began Friday night's game hitting .164 and in a 10-for-80 (.125) slump. Manager Ken Macha said he'd talked to Tejada and the star shortstop "said he doesn't care, he'll bat anywhere." Macha said he was trying to balance out the lineup and that it didn't really matter whether Tejada was in the three, four or five spot. "He's going to get his hits," Macha said. Tejada singled his first time up. ... Scott Hatteberg was back in the leadoff spot after hitting there for the first time in his career Thursday night. He's not the fastest afoot, having one stolen base since making his major league debut in 1995. "We're looking for him to get on base, that's all," Macha said. ... Macha is keeping in touch with New York Mets manager Art Howe, whom he replaced in the offseason. "We talk about once a week. He sounds fine," Macha said. The Mets began the night in last place in the NL East. "I haven't seen them play, I don't know their personnel that well," Macha said.
NEW YORK: Don't look for manager Joe Torre to be a coach in the All-Star game, even if he's asked by AL manager Mike Scioscia of Anaheim. "I'll be home," said Torre, who was looking forward to the three-day break. Torre and Scioscia spoke during the Yankees' recent trip to the West Coast. Torre said he supported commissioner Bud Selig's plan to award home-field advantage in the World Series to the team from the league that wins the All-Star game. "Buddy's in a tough spot," he said. "I don't know what you want the All-Star game to be. I'm going to pull for the American League, but I don't think I'm going to make it a point to stay home and watch it." ... Bubba Trammell started at DH after sitting out the previous 10 games. He'd done well in limited action, going 5-for-14 (.357). ... RHP Mariano Rivera reported no pain after pitching in his second straight game Thursday night. He started the season on the disabled list before being activated this week. ... C Jorge Posada will probably be out of the starting lineup Sunday. Torre wants to give Posada regular breaks for rest, especially when a day off follows.
KANSAS CITY: The Royals entered the series seeking their first win against the Orioles since the 2001 season. KC was 0-7 against Baltimore last year. ... The Royals had never been in first place on May 1 before this season. ... Despite bringing a six-game hitting streak into the game and homering in three of four games, Carlos Beltran was batting just .215.
BALTIMORE: DH David Segui is expected to come off the 15-day disabled list Saturday, and at the same time Baltimore will probably place starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez on the DL with a strained muscle in his side. ... The Orioles will probably make another move this weekend to fill a void in the rotation for Monday. Travis Driskill is a possibility to be called up from the minors. ... RHP Jason Johnson (4-0) hopes to pitch Sunday despite a cracked callus that cut short both his previous two starts. Manager Mike Hargrove said Johnson could be moved back to Monday, with the newcomer instead pitching Sunday. ... Twenty of the Orioles' first 27 games were decided by three runs or fewer.
CHICAGO: Closer Billy Koch and manager Jerry Manuel had a private chat a day after Koch tossed his glove in the stands when he was removed in the ninth. Both said the meeting went well, although Koch wasn't exactly contrite. "Am I upset about it? Yeah, and I told him that," said Koch, who won 11 games and saved 44 for Oakland last year. So far in 2003 he has three saves and a 7.82 ERA. "I think he expected me to be pretty upset, but I'm intense," Koch said. Manuel said the matter was resolved. "Billy Koch is a guy that wants to be out there when the game's on the line," Manuel said. "I know it's got to be frustrating for him at times. But he wants the ball. That's what you want as a manager." ... Manuel said Koch reminds him of action movie star Vin Diesel. "He drives on the edge all the time, I just didn't want to be in the car with him this time," he said of Thursday's game. "He'll come out of it all right but I just didn't feel like going through that." ... RHP Esteban Loaiza's strong start is not all that surprising. He's 14-3 lifetime in April and 8-13 in May. Manuel said he doesn't see another drop-off on the horizon. "He's experienced and I think he understands the nature of the game," he said. "I think he will know how to deal with it (when he loses). I don't think he'll panic or anything like that. I think he'll handle it just fine." Loaiza (5-0 going into Friday night's start) was named the AL player of the week and pitcher of the month ... The White Sox hoped to add a spark to their lineup by inserting Willie Harris and batting him second. Harris was called up Thursday night from Triple-A Charlotte, where he was hitting .420. Chicago is hitting .250 this season.
SEATTLE: Manager Bob Melvin gave 3B Jeff Cirillo the day off. Cirillo is hitting .178 with almost as many strikeouts (11) as hits (13). Melvin said Cirillo swung the bat well the past two days but has just had some bad luck. "A lot of that happens when you are batting below .200," Melvin said. ... Friday was the one-year anniversary of center fielder Mike Cameron's four-homer game in Chicago. ... Seattle finished April at 17-10, its fourth consecutive winning April. ... Edgar Martinez came in needing two hits to reach 2,000 in his career. ... Injured closer Kazuhiro Sasaki (tightness in his lower back) said he is progressing and will throw again Saturday. "I have been doing treatment. Everything is going well and hopefully I can be back on time," he said. It's still not certain when Sasaki will be activated.
Dillon's presence brings positive vibes
Arrest made in Weathersby shooting
Palmer's first day: 'I'm thinking we're awesome'
Swarm put out Fire
Manning-Vanderjagt: 'Dead issue'
Alabama's Price awaits decision on job status
Reds 5, Giants 1
Larkin to return some other day
Demotion raises Larson's offense
Reds notebook: Reitsma to miss next start
Buffalo 5, Louisville 3
NL: Smoltz stumbles, Braves bounce back
AL: Cameron comes up big again in Chicago
Notes from Friday's Games
In minors, promotion is name of the game
World Series home-field plan won't affect Baker
Radke, Bierbrodt draw suspensions
Derby packed with drama
Frankel has inside track on Hollywood ending
Horse boasts history of a different tune
Kentucky Oaks: Tears fall freely for Zito
Empire Maker is the complete package
Racing finds niche in least likely place
Familiar faces are missing from Pig
8th-grade phenom packs 'em in at NCH
St. Dominic girls show all the rest how to take it to the hoop
Eustachy violated NCAA's extra-benefits rule
Eustachy saga becoming PR chess match
Coaches split on possible Eustachy firing
Detroit survives to force Game 7
Duncan wins second straight MVP
Stockton says he'll retire
Upstart Mighty Ducks looking to clinch series
ECHL: Cyclones even series
Crash leaves Nadeau in critical condition
NASCAR fans, drivers love Richmond 400
Verplank vaults to lead after 63
Nicklaus' family around for weekend
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