Monday, April 12, 2004

Notes from Sunday's games



By The Associated Press

NATIONAL LEAGUE

CHICAGO: Todd Hollandsworth received his first start at first base since 1999. Hollandsworth had two home runs in the first two games of the series against the Braves - including one as a pinch-hitter - to earn the start. He hit only three homers last season with Florida, when he played only in the outfield. He last appeared at first base with Los Angeles in 1999. Derrek Lee, who started the first five games at first base, came in the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, when Hollandsworth moved back to the outfield. ... 2B Mark Grudzielanek was held out for the second straight day Sunday. Grudzielanek aggravated a chronic right Achilles' tendon problem while playing all 15 innings Friday night. ... Chicago begins a seven-game, eight-day homestand Monday with its home opener against Pittsburgh. Actor Bill Murray is to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and lead "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch. ... The Cubs will not face the Braves again until Oct. 1-3 at Wrigley Field.

ATLANTA: The Braves may be close to making a decision to place injured shortstop and leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal on the disabled list. Furcal was held out Saturday and Sunday with a strained back, and Sunday's update did not sound encouraging. "He can't walk yet," manager Bobby Cox said. "We're not thinking about the DL yet, but it's crossing our minds a little bit." Furcal was slightly favoring his back but was walking around the clubhouse before the game. Furcal reported he is "better." ... 1B Adam LaRoche did not start but came in the game as a pinch hitter. He left Saturday night's game after fouling a ball off his right foot. ... RHP Paul Byrd, recovering from 2003 elbow surgery, was at the game for an update with Dr. Joe Chandler. Byrd said he hopes to return in late May or early June. ... Relief pitcher Armando Almanza allowed three hits and two runs in one inning on an injury rehab appearance with Double-A Greenville in Chattanooga on Saturday. Almanza is eligible to be activated on Thursday.

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Pirates-Reds

PITTSBURGH: 1B Randall Simon is disappointed that he'll miss Chicago's home opener Monday. Simon, day to day with tightness in his left hamstring, hit .282 with six homers and 21 RBI in 33 games while helping the Cubs win the Central and reach the NL championship series last season. "I was looking forward to tomorrow in Chicago," said Simon, who opened last season with Pittsburgh and rejoined the Pirates as a free agent in February. "That's the team I finished up with last season. I know the fans were excited to see me back over there." ... In an effort to shake up a struggling lineup, Manager Lloyd McClendon made more adjustments to the batting order. SS Jack Wilson, who has a six-game hitting streak, batted second for the second consecutive game after hitting seventh or eighth for the first four. For the first time this season, C Jason Kendall batted third and LF Raul Mondesi was in the cleanup slot. Mondesi responded with a first-inning RBI single that snapped Pittsburgh's 0-for-18 slump with runners in scoring position. "He's our big buy," McClendon said. "We broke out of it in a nice way."

CINCINNATI: SS Barry Larkin is day to day after developing stiffness in his right elbow area Saturday. Larkin left Saturday's game after seven innings and was not in Sunday's starting lineup. Larkin, who turns 40 on April 28, plans to retire after this season. He was on the disabled list three times and played in only 70 games last season ... The Reds will be the opponents when Philadelphia opens its new home, Citizens Bank Park, on Monday. This will be the fifth time Cincinnati has helped another team open a new ballpark. The Reds won at Los Angeles's Dodger Stadium in 1962, won at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium in 1970, lost at Milwaukee's Miller Park in 2001 and won at Pittsburgh's PNC Park the same season. ... The Reds play 17 of their next 20 games on the road. Their 47 road losses last season were the most by the team since they dropped 49 in 1993.

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Mets-Expos

NEW YORK: RF Karim Garcia is day to day with a fracture on the tip of his left ring finger, an injury sustained fielding a ball Saturday, manager Art Howe said. Shane Spencer opened Sunday's game at right but moved to left after LF Cliff Floyd strained his right thigh in the first inning. Eric Valent went to right. ... Howe said the new turf in Hiram Bithorn Stadium is the slowest artificial turf he has ever seen. "It feels like sand," he said. The manager was also surprised at the low scoring at the park, which was renovated to expand the outfields to resemble the dimensions of Montreal's Olympic Stadium.

MONTREAL: The Expos had four one-run games among their first five, winning two. "If we continue to get good pitching, those are the type of games we need to win," manager Frank Robinson said. ... Through the first five games, the Expos had the worst offense in the major leagues, with the lowest batting average (.199), on-base percentage (.265) and slugging percentage (.295).

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Astros-Brewers

HOUSTON: LHP Andy Pettitte received a cortisone shot Sunday morning in Houston. Pettitte (0-1) was put on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a strained left elbow. The Astros anticipate he will make his second start on April 25 at Colorado. ... RHP Brandon Backe was called up from Triple-A New Orleans to take Pettitte's place on the roster. He pitched the final inning Sunday in Houston's 7-4 win, giving up two runs on two hits. ... RHP Jared Fernandez will take Pettitte's turn in the rotation Monday night in St. Louis. In his first appearance this season Friday, he allowed two runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning in a victory over Milwaukee. ... Lance Berkman's grand slam home run Sunday in the third inning of Houston's victory over Milwaukee was his third career slam but first right-handed. "I think I have more power right-handed than I do left-handed," he said. The grand slam was the 102nd in Astros history. The 101st was hit Friday by Jeff Bagwell, who tied the franchise record of six slams, set by Bob Aspromonte from 1962-68. ... Roy Oswalt not only got a win but his first two hits of the season, a single and a double. "I felt pretty good at the plate for the first time ever," he said.

MILWAUKEE: One of the Brewers greatest victories came on Easter Sunday 1987. On April 19 that year, the Brewers defeated the Astros 6-4 on a three-run, ninth-inning homer by Rob Deer and a two-run shot by Dale Sveum to improve to 12-0 (they won their 13th before losing). ... Milwaukee is the only club with no players on the disabled list. ... Talk about a tough way to open the season. The Brewers are playing 14 straight days, the longest such stretch in the majors, and 11 of the games are on the road.

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Phillies-Marlins

PHILADELPHIA: The Phillies are concerned with the mechanics of RHP Brett Myers even though he has thrown the same way his entire career. Slow-motion replays show Myers' head turned significantly to the left when he releases the ball, which manager Larry Bowa said leaves his shoulder vulnerable. "That's a big concern," Bowa said a day after Myers allowed six hits and two runs in 4 2-3 innings. "He's trying to fix it. It takes time. It's hard to sometimes harness that energy." ... Bowa got a close look at the Marlins' World Series rings and said they dwarf the one he got in 1980 when the Phillies beat Kansas City. "It's pretty big," he said. "I can't imagine anything bigger. It's nice, but I don't know if I would wear it. It's something you put in a trophy case."

FLORIDA: Manager Jack McKeon plans to get 1B/OF Wil Cordero at least one start in his native Puerto Rico, where the Marlins begin a three-game series Tuesday against Montreal. C Ramon Castro and 3B Mike Lowell, both starters, also are from the island. "I always like to play guys when we go to their hometowns," McKeon said. "I only have three to worry about." ... About eight or so Marlins chipped in and bought team chaplain Chris Lane a World Series ring when they found out he wasn't going to get one. "I couldn't believe he wasn't getting a ring," LHP Tommy Phelps said. "He was right there at Yankee Stadium with us." The players designed a ring for Lane with a cross on top of the team logo, a Marlin. Lane has been the team chaplain since 1998. "I was totally shocked," he said. "A lot of baseball players are viewed as selfish. It was really neat that they thought about it." ... The series finale Sunday was televised nationally in South Korea, a 4:05 a.m. Monday start, to showcase 1B Hee Seop Choi, who has three homers this season.

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Rockies-Dodgers

COLORADO: First-year closer Shawn Chacon got his first big league save, but not without a struggle. He gave up a leadoff double to Adrian Beltre in the ninth and threw two wild pitches to allow Beltre to score before retiring the side. "It's like anything - the first one's the hardest to get. It's huge," Chacon said. "You've got to go out there with the attitude like, The game's over."' Chacon struck out PH Robin Ventura with a runner at second to end the game. ... CF Preston Wilson, bothered by a sore left knee, didn't play Sunday. Hurdle expects Wilson to be in right field Monday in Colorado's home opener against Arizona. "Center field's awfully big at our park," Hurdle said. "I just think as the game goes on, he's not as fresh. Maybe he can play the whole game in right field." Wilson was removed from Saturday night's game in the third inning. ... Jeromy Burnitz homered for the second straight day against the team he played for during the second half of last season. "I've played against a lot of former teammates," he said with a smile when asked if his success against the Dodgers meant anything special. Burnitz began his career with the New York Mets in 1993. He has also played for the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers and the Mets for a second time. ... The Rockies haven't committed an error yet, matching the 1996 club for longest errorless streak to begin a season. ... Charles Johnson struck out in all four plate appearances Sunday.

LOS ANGELES: SS Cesar Izturis stole two bases Sunday, giving the Dodgers a major league-leading 11 steals in 12 attempts. ... OF Dave Roberts, who sat out Sunday's game, has seven of the 11 steals. ... The Los Angeles pitching staff struck out 36 in the three-game series, including 13 Sunday - eight by starter Odalis Perez, one by Darren Dreifort and four by rookie Duaner Sanchez. ... Paul Lo Duca, who turns 32 Monday, doubled in the eighth and has hit safely in all six games this season. ... Adrian Beltre had two hits and an RBI Sunday, giving him 11 hits in 23 at-bats and eight RBIs. ... The Dodgers were held to six hits and two runs by Colorado's Shawn Estes and two relievers, but still have scored 23 runs while hitting .275 in their six games - four of them wins. "We've been getting great at-bats - that's the key," said Lo Duca, who is 12-for-23. ... The Dodgers begin a nine-game road trip Tuesday night in San Diego. "Winning two series, you can't not be pleased," manager Jim Tracy said regarding the team's season-opening homestand. ... The Dodgers won't need a fifth starter until next Saturday when they play in San Francisco. Tracy said there are three candidates - Wilson Alvarez, Jose Lima and rookie Edwin Jackson, who is pitching for Triple-A Las Vegas.

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Cardinals-Diamondbacks

ST. LOUIS: 2B Bo Hart is back in the majors. He was recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Sunday when OF Roger Cedeno was placed on the 15-day DL. Cedeno aggravated a hamstring injury chasing down a base hit in the eighth inning of Saturday night's 10-2 victory. Hart hit .277 and started 65 games after being called up from Memphis last season. He was sent to the minors at the end of spring training after the Cardinals acquired 2B Tony Womack. ... 3B Scott Rolen is 5-for-10 with four homers and nine RBIs in the Cardinals' two victories at Arizona. The Cardinals scored 23 runs on 30 hits - including eight homers and 12 doubles - in the routs. ... LF Ray Lankford, back with St. Louis after being traded to San Diego in 2001, is hitting .421 with two homers and four doubles in five games.

ARIZONA: Those concerns about the back end of the Diamondbacks' rotation seem well-founded. No. 4 starter Casey Daigle was hammered for seven runs - including five homers - in 2 2-3 innings, then No. 5 Steve Sparks gave up six runs in six innings on Saturday. ... Manager Bob Brenly is concerned about the early season work load on his bullpen. The Diamondbacks have used at least four pitchers in each of their first five games. ... 3B Shea Hillenbrand and 1B Richie Sexson are off to slow starts. Through five games, Hillenbrand hit .111 (2-for-18) and Sexson .100 (2-for-20). At least Sexson's two hits were homers. ... INF Matt Kata was the odd man out in the starting infield following the signing of 2B Roberto Alomar. Kata is the backup at all three positions, but he's the hottest hitter of all the infielders so far, batting .556 (5-for-9). He was back in the lineup at third base on Sunday.

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Giants-Padres

SAN FRANCISCO: Barry Bonds flied out to left field in his first at-bat Sunday night. That dropped him to 2-for-14, with four walks, since pulling within one homer of godfather Willie Mays, who's third on the career list. Bonds was 0-for-4 with an intentional walk in San Diego on Thursday night in the Petco Park opener, then was 1-for-3 with a walk on Saturday night. ... The Giants are to play their home opener Monday against Milwaukee. The scheduled starters are Milwaukee's Matt Kinney and San Francisco's Jerome Williams.

SAN DIEGO: Manager Bruce Bochy said it's doubtful that LHP Sterling Hitchcock will make his scheduled start Saturday night against Arizona because of a pulled muscle in his ribcage. If Hitchcock can't go, RHP Ismael Valdez will go. ... Bochy was happy that the Padres kept Barry Bonds in the ballpark the first two games of this three-game series. "We're just not making any mistakes against him," Bochy said. With the exception of a fly ball by Bonds that center fielder Jay Payton caught near the top of the fence Thursday night, "We haven't been giving him a lot to hit," Bochy said.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Twins-Tigers

MINNESOTA: Sunday's losing pitcher, Joe Roa, grew up in Hazel Park, just north of Detroit, and still lives in the suburbs in the offseason. ... Detroit's second-inning run was the first earned run allowed by Johan Santana in 20 1-3 innings at Comerica Park. ... The Twins have lost five of their last seven games to the Tigers, all at Detroit. ... Twins manager Ron Gardenhire enjoyed Sunday's extra-inning game, despite the outcome. "It was a fun game," he said. "They were getting after it and we were getting after it. It finally comes down to who gets the big hit. It's one of those rough days, a good baseball game and unfortunately, we lost."

DETROIT: Tigers manager Alan Trammell did his postgame interviews in a three-piece suit as a tribute to Larry Brown. The Detroit Pistons coach wore an Ivan Rodriguez jersey and Tigers hat to his news conference after Friday's win over the Toronto Raptors. "I'm sure Larry would approve of the suit, but I don't look as distinguished as he does," Trammell said. "It's just great to get that kind of support from the other teams in town, especially a great coach like Larry." ... The Tigers have scored at least five runs in each of their first six games, tying a team record set in 1961. The Tigers won 101 games that season, but finished seven games behind the Yankees.

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White Sox-Yankees

CHICAGO: RHP Esteban Loaiza (1-0) is to start the home opener Tuesday against Kansas City. ... RHP Dan Wright lasted 4 2-3 innings in his first start of the season, giving up five runs, four earned, and four hits. He went 0-7 in 15 starts last season after winning 14 games in 2002. "I think Danny threw the ball good. I'm happy with what I see from him," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He was just behind the hitters. He got beat by the long ball." ... DH Frank Thomas went 1-for-4 with an RBI single and flied out to deep center twice. "They didn't go anywhere. I crushed both those balls," he said. Thomas is hitting .190 (4-for-21) with one RBI.

NEW YORK: The Yankees went 15 consecutive innings in a two-game span without getting more than one hit in an inning until Derek Jeter singled and Alex Rodriguez doubled in the seventh. "I think the last two days is the best I've felt," Rodriguez said. "Just getting all the cobwebs out and playing better baseball." ... 1B-OF Travis Lee (strained shoulder) will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Class-A Tampa on Monday. ... DH Bernie Williams played in his 1,662nd game with New York, passing Hall of Fame SS Phil Rizzuto for 11th place among Yankees. ... RHP Jon Lieber (right groin) and RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder surgery) are each scheduled to have another bullpen session Monday. ... The Yankees are batting only .208 as a team. ... RHP Mike Mussina struck out six after fanning only three in his first two starts combined. He was fourth in the AL last year with 195 strikeouts. ... Mussina lowered his ERA from 11.00 to 8.22. He also became the 100th pitcher to reach 200 wins, and the 76th right-hander.

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Orioles-Devil Rays

BALTIMORE: Manager Lee Mazzilli will keep opening-day starter Sidney Ponson on his regular four days of rest between starts. The Orioles have an off day Monday before starting a three-game series Tuesday at Boston. Ponson will take the hill Wednesday. The other starting pitchers will get an extra day of rest. ... Mazzilli has not ruled out using RHP Rick Bauer as a spot starter. "He's been outstanding," Mazzilli said. Bauer allowed one hit over five scoreless innings out of the bullpen in Saturday's 11-3 win at Tampa Bay. ... LHP John Parrish had an ugly line in Sunday's 10-1 loss to the Devil Rays. The reliever allowed five runs, four hits and three walks in two innings. He also had three wild pitches, including a pair that allowed runners to score from third. "I strided a little long and ended up spiking the ball," Parrish said. "That normally doesn't happen with me, throwing the fastball in the dirt. It's usually up."

TAMPA BAY: DH Aubrey Huff made his second start of the season at third base Sunday. Manager Lou Piniella has been tinkering with his lineup looking for the best offensive unit. "We're going to have to score some runs," Piniella said about playing in the AL East. "We might have to give up a little defense to do it. We'll settle on a fairly set lineup in the next week or 10 days." ... Piniella said there might be callups to help address the middle relief struggles. He said the rotation will likely remain intact through April, although the possibility exists of shifting struggling starters to the bullpen later in the season. One potential candidate is RHP Jeremi Gonzalez, 0-2 with a 10.24 ERA in two starts. ... Piniella said RHP Doug Waechter (blister) could start for Triple-A Durham on April 14 and 19. Barring any setbacks, Waechter will likely fill the fifth starter role.

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Blue Jays-Red Sox

TORONTO: The Blue Jays' last two batters, Orlando Hudson and Chris Gomez, each struck out three times. ... Leadoff hitter Reed Johnson went 0-for-6 after driving in three runs in Toronto's 10-5 win in the series opener Friday night. ... Toronto starter Miguel Batista faced 27 hitters in seven innings. Six relievers faced a total of 21.

BOSTON: Curt Schilling made his Fenway Park debut for Boston 18 years after being drafted by the Red Sox. He never pitched in the majors before being traded to Baltimore in 1988. ... Schilling had 10 strikeouts, the 87th game in which he has reached double figures, putting him sixth in major league history and fourth among active pitchers. ... Closer Keith Foulke made his fourth appearance and still hasn't allowed a run in his first season with the Red Sox. He did load the bases on two walks and a single in the 10th before retiring the side on a groundout. ... Manny Ramirez went 3-for-5 and is 10-for-22 in his last five games. He has scored or driven in a run in each of Boston's seven games.

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Indians-Royals

CLEVELAND: Ronnie Belliard reached base four times on a walk, a throwing error and two singles. But he accounted for four of the Indians' 12 stranded runners. Although they'll play the Royals 15 more times this year, the Indians will not return to Kansas City until July 30. Travis Hafner is 6-for-8 in his last two games with a home run and two doubles.

KANSAS CITY: For the first time since 1992, no Royals starter has a win in any of the first six games. The 1992 club started 0-7. It was the first April start Dennys Reyes had ever made. Winning four of six gave the Royals their first winning homestand since last Aug. 26-31. The Royals had not won four games on any homestand since last June 27-July 6.

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Angels-Rangers

ANAHEIM: C Bengie Molina, recovering from a strained left hamstring, remains day to day. ... LHP Jarrod Washburn struggled against Texas last season. Washburn, who is to start against the Rangers on Monday night, was 1-2 with a 10.59 ERA in three starts vs. Texas in 2003.

TEXAS: OF Brian Jordan has been hitting off a tee as he continues to test his surgically repaired left knee. Jordan has been on the disabled list since the start of the season . ... LHP Kenny Rogers won his 37th game at The Ballpark in Arlington on Saturday night, tying former-Ranger Rick Helling for the franchise lead in the hitter-friendly stadium. "Hopefully, we'll get about 55 or 60 of them before we're done," Rogers said. "I've been pitching here for a while but I know I left for a few years. I don't mind pitching in this park." ... Former OF David Hulse caught the ceremonial first pitch from former Arlington Mayor Richard Greene as the Rangers continue to celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Ballpark. Hulse got the first hit for the Rangers in the stadium, a single off Milwaukee's Jaime Navarro on April 11, 1994.

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Mariners-Athletics

SEATTLE: The Mariners were two outs from matching the worst start in franchise history - 0-6 in 1991. They rallied with two runs to tie it in the ninth off former teammate Arthur Rhodes and won it with five runs in the 10th. "I got a lot of wins with Arthur as my teammate," 2B Bret Boone said. "It was a little weird seeing him against me." ... Boone hit his 222nd career homer as a second baseman, moving past Bobby Doerr into seventh place. Ryne Sandberg holds the career record with 277. ... Seattle's bullpen, which came into the game with an 8.59 ERA, pitched five scoreless innings in relief of Jamie Moyer. ... DH Edgar Martinez drove in his 1,200th career run with an RBI single in the sixth. ... 1B John Olerud, 2-for-15 in his career against Mark Mulder, did not start against the left-hander. Jolbert Cabrera made his first start of the season in Olerud's place and went 0-for-4.

OAKLAND: Despite blowing a two-run lead in the ninth inning, the Athletics still finished 4-2 on a season-opening homestand. "That was a tough one there, but you have to look at the bright side. We had a pretty good homestand," manager Ken Macha said. Oakland plays 16 of its next 19 games on the road. ... 2B Frank Menechino (strained calf) is expected to begin a rehab assignment at Double-A Midland on Tuesday. Macha isn't sure how long it will take for Menechino to return to the majors. "I would like to see him perform on a level that would translate to being productive at this level," Macha said. ... Menechino isn't assured of a starting job when he returns because of the success of Marco Scutaro, who is hitting .316 with four RBIs. Scutaro got the starting job because of injuries to starter Mark Ellis (out for the season with a torn right labrum) and Menechino. "I'm an equal opportunity employer. ... If he keeps contributing to winning games here, that's what the idea is - to win games," Macha said. ... RHP Rich Harden allowed three runs in five innings for Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday and is on schedule to pitch for the A's on Thursday in Texas.




REDS / BASEBALL
Reds say foundation in place
Photos of Sunday's game
Relievers leave club stress-free
Kearns finally gets bat, ball to meet
Reds at Phillies series preview
Ephedra ban begins today
NL: Wood stymies Braves
AL: Ortiz bomb stops Jays in 12th
AAA: Louisville 12, Norfolk 3
Notes from Sunday's games

THE 2004 MASTERS
Daugherty: Fans share Lefty's joy
Just call him Major Mickelson - finally
Els is masterful, but it isn't enough
Another major comes and goes without Woods

HOCKEY
For Cyclones, the plot took wrong twists
Kovalev's two goals pace Habs

NBA
Pacers-Celtics rematch set
After five years, Sixers' playoff run is finished

MORE SPORTS HEADLINES
Prep sports results, schedules
Sports digest
Sports today on TV, radio

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