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Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Spring Training Blog: March 30


Arizona Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch has picked Rodrigo Lopez as the team's fourth starter.

Lopez, a non-roster invitee to spring training, outpitched Billy Buckner and Kevin Mulvey for the job. The 34-year-old right-hander underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in 2007.

Buckner and Mulvey were optioned to Triple-A Reno, as were first baseman Brandon Allen and outfielder Cole Gillespie. Catcher Sean Coughlin was reassigned to the minor league camp.

Lopez is 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA in 15 1/3 innings this spring. He has one more start Friday night against the Chicago Cubs at Chase Field in Phoenix. Lopez has a 68-66 major league career record with San Diego, Baltimore, Colorado and Philadelphia.

Arizona will begin the season with four starters because a fifth won't be needed until mid-April.

-- The Associated Press


Oliver Perez isn't concerned about a rough outing in his last spring training game.

The New York Mets, however, will be keeping a close eye on him as the season starts next week.

The St. Louis Cardinals ripped three home runs off Perez in Tuesday's 9-4 win over the Mets, and the left-hander lasted 2 1/3 innings.

Perez, who is coming back from Sept. 1 knee surgery, surrendered seven runs, six hits and two walks, while fanning three.

Ryan Ludwick hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and Matt Holliday immediately followed with the first of two homers on the day.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel said Perez, who is 0-1 with an 8.66 ERA this spring, might be going through a dead-arm period, and it wouldn't be fair to say he is on a short leash based on results that don't count.

"Obviously you would like to see better going into the season, so he's just a guy we have to watch carefully," Manuel said. "I sense that he is healthy. I don't think there are any issues there, so hopefully when the lights come on, he shows us a little better stuff."

-- The Associated Press


Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte threw with both arms for the New York Yankees on Tuesday, giving up one run in 1 1/3 innings during a 9-6 split-squad loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Making his first appearance for the Yankees, Venditte took over for CC Sabathia with two outs in the fifth inning and tossed four warmup pitches with each hand. Venditte switched back and forth, depending on whether he was facing a righty or lefty, and gave up two hits and a walk.

The 24-year-old reliever, who uses a six-finger glove, pitched for two teams in Class A last season and went a combined 4-2 with 22 saves and a 1.87 ERA. He is scheduled to begin the season at Class A Tampa.

Sabathia said he knew the Yankees had an ambidextrous pitcher in their organization, but did a double take when Venditte took the mound.

"I've never seen anything like that," Sabathia said. "I felt like we kept changing pitchers before I figured out what was happening."

-- The Associated Press


Dontrelle Willis just completed his worst outing of spring training when Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland stepped to the mound and told the left-hander something that made him feel much better: Willis will open the season as part of Detroit's opening rotation.

Despite struggling Tuesday in a 10-9 win over the Baltimore Orioles, Willis will be the No. 3 man in the rotation. His position became solidified earlier in the day, when the Tigers traded left-hander Nate Robertson to Florida.

Willis gave up five runs, seven hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings. The performance lifted his ERA from 1.20 to 3.26, but Leyland said the lefty wasn't nearly as erratic as his pitching line would indicate.

"I thought he was very good today. I don't think that was anything like we've seen in the past," Leyland said. "He was missing down, he was missing close."

"I was actually very pleased with it. I was very encouraged," he said.

-- The Associated Press


The cradle of the Cactus League says goodbye to major league baseball this week.

The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, the final two teams with spring training in Tucson, are moving north to swanky new digs near a Scottsdale-area casino. They will leave behind empty fields of manicured grass and a history that stretches back 64 years.

On March 8, 1946, the first spring training game in Arizona was played at Tucson's Hi Corbett Field between Bill Veeck's Cleveland Indians and Horace Stoneham's New York Giants. Bob Lemon pitched the Indians to a 3-1 victory.

That venerable stadium, built in 1937, will host Tucson's final spring game, between the Diamondbacks and Rockies, on Wednesday. The Diamondbacks played their last game at their Tucson Electric Park home on Tuesday.

"I feel a little sad because we're not going to have this here," said 78-year-old Lefty Provencio, one of the legion of mostly older folks who help out at the ballparks for nothing each spring. "It's been something I've been volunteering for since I retired."

-- The Associated Press


Right-handers Jeff Karstens and Brian Bass were among seven players reassigned by the Pittsburgh Pirates to their minor league camp, leaving 30 players with the major league club.

Also sent down were right-handers Vinnie Chulk, Steven Jackson, Jeremy Powell and Anthony Claggett and catcher Luke Carlin.

Karstens started last season in the Pirates' rotation, going 4-6 with a 5.42 ERA in 39 games, including 13 starts. Bass pitched 86 1/3 innings last season for Baltimore -- second among AL relievers -- and was 5-3 with a 4.90 ERA.

-- The Associated Press