Sunday, May 23, 2004

Injured Wagner, Thome, Polanco hit rehabilitation snags for Phils

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Phillies got three pieces of bad news Saturday.

All-Star closer Billy Wagner, first baseman Jim Thome and second baseman Placido Polanco all had injury setbacks that will prolong their recovery times.

Wagner, on the disabled list because of a groin injury, pitched one inning of a simulated game before feeling tightness in his leg.

The left-hander is eligible to be activated today, though he figured to wait until Tuesday. Now, he said, the rehabilitation process probably will have to start over, meaning another 15-day delay is possible.

"You can't rush these things," said Wagner, who has converted eight of nine save opportunities.

Earlier this week, Thome sprained ligaments in his right index finger because he changed the way he's gripping the bat to compensate for a thumb injury. Manager Larry Bowa said Thome, hitting .318 with 11 homers and 22 RBI, didn't swing Saturday.

"He's not going to be 100 percent. We're just hoping to get him to 80," Bowa said.

Polanco was scheduled to be activated today after spending 15 days on the DL because of a strained quadriceps. But when he tested the leg in a baserunning drill, he felt tightness.

One bit of good news for the Phillies came when starter Randy Wolf, whose turn in the rotation was skipped Saturday due to elbow tendinitis, threw 40 pain-free pitches. Wolf expects to make his next start Friday.

ROYALS: Juan Gonzalez was held out of Kansas City's lineup at Oakland Saturday because of tightness in his lower back.

"Juan is day-to-day," manager Tony Pena said. "It just happened yesterday, and he'll probably be back tomorrow."

Gonzalez was hitting .276 with five home runs and 17 RBI.

EXPOS: Even though he doesn't know where the team will play or who will own it, Frank Robinson said he'd like to come back and manage the Expos next season.

"It's only May, but right now, if you asked me to sign a contract to manage this club, I'd sign a contract," Robinson said.

He would like to manage three more years - long enough for the new ownership to get the team established in a new city.

"But it's up to new management," Robinson said. "They may want someone who has more fire than I have. Some people say I've gone soft."

YANKEES: First baseman Jason Giambi went on the disabled list for the first time in his 10-year career, giving him two weeks to rest a sprained ankle and recover from other aches and pains.

Giambi hurt his right ankle when he stepped into a hole after rounding first base against Texas Friday night. X-rays showed there was no break, but he left the stadium using crutches.

Giambi missed three games in the last week because of problems with his upper back and hip.

• Yankees reliever Steve Karsay could be ready to pitch in an extended spring training game Saturday, which would be his first such action since rotator cuff surgery a year ago. Karsay threw two innings in a simulated game for the second time in four days at the Yankees' spring training complex and is scheduled to throw three innings in another simulated game Tuesday.

DODGERS: Outfielder Shawn Green, in a 2-for-16 slump that has dropped his batting average to .219, was benched. Manager Jim Tracy said the slugger also might sit out today against Atlanta.

CUBS: Reliever Kent Mercker was placed on the 15-day disabled list, and Chicago activated another bullpen lefty, Mike Remlinger.

Mercker, 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in 19 appearances, has been bothered by a sore lower back and hadn't pitched in a week. Remlinger has been recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

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