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Friday, April 2, 2010
Spring Training Blog: April 2


REDS' ARROYO STOMPED IN FINAL SPRING TURN (1:38 a.m. ET)

Bronson Arroyo was hit hard during his final spring start and committed a costly throwing error in the Cincinnati Reds' 10-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.

Arroyo allowed 10 runs and 11 hits in four innings. The right-hander's error in the third led to five unearned runs.

"Bronson wasn't sharp tonight, but he had to get his work in," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He feels good. He just wasn't sharp. He was missing."

-- ESPN.com news services

LOPEZ CLOSES OUT NEAR-PERFECT SPRING (12:45 a.m. ET)

Rodrigo Lopez wrapped up his phenomenal spring with a gem against the Chicago Cubs.

The 34-year-old right-hander, a non-roster invitee who pitched his way onto the Arizona rotation, ran his string of scoreless innings to 19 with 6 2/3 in the Diamondbacks' 5-3 victory over the Cubs on Friday night.

"I finished strong," he said. "This is one of my best spring trainings I ever had in my career. I'm pretty happy to be part of the Diamondbacks this season. This is a good feeling."

Lopez pitched to just 21 batters, one more than the minimum possible, allowing two hits, striking out four and walking one.

Lopez, released by Philadelphia last September after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in 2007, did not give up a run after the first inning of his second outing. He is Arizona's No. 4 starter behind Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy. Lopez has a 68-66 record with San Diego, Baltimore, Colorado and Philadelphia, but missed virtually the entire 2008 season. He was 3-1 in five starts for the Phillies last year.

-- ESPN.com news services

ASTROS' MEYERS SOLID IN RETURN TO ACTION (12:30 a.m. ET)

Brett Myers pitched six innings in his first action since a groin strain more than a week ago and the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays played 10 innings to a 3-3 tie Friday night.

Myers, scheduled to be Houston's third starter behind Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez, allowed six hits and three runs and struck out two.

Myers said he felt great after a week's rest following the injury that caused him to leave after 5 1/3 innings March 25. He said he wanted to work on his fast ball, but that he soon changed things up after they were hitting his fast balls.

"That's what I wanted to work on but after that I was just kind of like: 'I'm not going to let them get the best of me. I'm not going to try to give up six runs just because I'm going to work on some pitches,'" he said. "So I think my competitiveness took over and I just started pitching."

The Astros wanted to keep his pitch count around 80 and he left with 82, but felt like he could have pitched to 100.

"Smart move," he said of being pulled. "I feel strong now, so why not try to stay strong, no sense in putting any more stress on anything because we've got 162 of these to go and hopefully I've got 35 [starts] in me."

-- ESPN.com news services

RAYS CLINCH BEST SPRING RECORD (8:13 p.m. ET)

Matt Garza pitched five scoreless innings in his final tunep for the regular season, helping the Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Mets 4-2 on Friday night to clinch the best spring training record in the major leagues.

Garza allowed one hit, walked two and struck out six. Three other pitchers limited the Mets to one hit before Mike Jacobs broke up a shutout bid with a two-run homer off Lance Cormier in the ninth.

Pat Burrell drove in Tampa Bay's first run with a second-inning double off Mets starter Mike Pelfrey. Kelly Shoppach had a run-scoring single in the seventh off Fernando Nieve, and the Rays tacked on a pair of unearned runs to make 4-0 in the eighth.

The Rays improved to 20-8-2 this spring and will close out their exhibition schedule at Triple-A Durham on Saturday. They also had the top spring training record in the majors two years ago, when they went on appear in the World Series.

-- The Associated Press

BRUISED THUMB BENCHES RANGERS' CRUZ (8:13 p.m. ET)

All-Star outfielder Nelson Cruz has been scratched from the Texas Rangers' lineup because of a bruised right thumb.

Cruz felt discomfort during batting practice before Friday night's exhibition game against Kansas City. He was hurt a day earlier when he hit a ball of the end of his bat.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus, who was second in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting last season, wasn't in the lineup after getting a cortisone shot Friday to alleviate inflammation in his left wrist. The Rangers said he won't play in the final exhibition game Saturday either.

Cruz and Andrus are both expected to in the lineup for the season opener Monday at home against Toronto.

"I have no level of concern," manager Ron Washington said.

-- ESPN.com news services

RAYS' BLALOCK FREE TO SIGN ELSEWHERE (7:00 p.m. ET)

Hank Blalock did not make Tampa Bay's opening day roster and will try to sign with another major league team.

If Blalock doesn't land a deal, he'll report to the Rays' Triple-A affiliate in Durham.

The two-time All-Star agreed to a minor league contract last month. The deal includes an option allowing him to opt out and seek a job elsewhere if he's not on the 25-man roster coming out of spring training.

Manager Joe Maddon said Friday that Blalock has shown enough this spring that the Rays think he can be helpful if he remains with the organization. Blalock said he plans to do that if another opportunity doesn't materialize.

"I really tried to impress upon him how valuable we feel he is to us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

"You're talking about an All-Star, and a really good major league player hitting a bunch of homers last year. ... I really think he's going to have a big year, and we want it to be with us. We feel very fortunate that he will go back if this doesn't work out for him otherwise."

Blalock hit .234 with 25 homers and 66 RBIs in 123 games for the Texas Rangers last year.

-- ESPN.com news services

YANKS' PETTITTE RETURNS TO MOUND (5:40 p.m. ET)

Andy Pettitte finally made his second official appearance of spring training on Friday, pitching into the fifth inning in the New York Yankees' 6-6, nine-inning tie with the Baltimore Orioles.

It was the first start for Pettitte since March 17 because of inclement weather. He took part in simulated and intrasquad games after two starts were canceled and a third was limited to one inning by another rain out.

Pettitte scattered seven hits over 4 1/3 scoreless innings Friday on a cloudless day with temperatures hovering in the 80s. Alex Rodriguez had an RBI single and Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer in the Yankees' four-run first inning.

"The biggest reason I needed this was to build my stamina up," Pettitte said. "You can't simulate a game because it's just not real."

Baltimore starter Alfredo Simon went four innings, giving up four runs -- all in the first -- and five hits. Robert Andino had two RBIs for the Orioles.

-- ESPN.com news services

SOGGY START FOR TARGET FIELD (5:30 p.m. ET)

Target Field's gates are open for major league baseball for the first time, and the Minnesota Twins have -- so far -- avoided their first weather problem.

The new ballpark was christened on Friday for an exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals, which started on time under a dry sky after steady rain fell through the morning and early afternoon.

Players were prevented from taking batting practice, but the rain stopped about two hours before the scheduled first pitch as fans streamed in. The first few people in through the right field entrance yelled in celebration and sprinted to the seats. When the grounds crew took the tarp off the infield, there were plenty of claps and cheers.

Minnesota's Denard Span hit the first home run, estimated at 360 feet into the right-field seats.

The regular-season home opener is set for April 12. The Twins moved outdoors this year after playing inside the Metrodome since 1982.

-- The Associated Press

GORDON, FIELDS FACE DL STINT TO OPEN SEASON (10:53 a.m. ET)

The Royals are running out of third basemen.

Alex Gordon and Josh Fields likely will open the season on the disabled list, and they remained in Arizona when the club broke camp in Surprise. Gordon has a broken right thumb and Fields a hip injury.

Switch-hitting Alberto Callaspo, who was slated to replace Gordon at third and bat third, has not played since March 25 because of an irritation in his right side that bothers him when swinging left-handed.

If Callaspo is unable to play in the season opener Monday against Detroit, the three candidates to start at third are Mike Aviles, Willie Bloomquist and Wilson Betemit.

-- The Associated Press

POSADA TO MISS ANOTHER GAME WITH STIFF NECK (9:49 a.m. ET)

Yankees catcher Jorge Posada was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game because of a stiff neck.

Posada said the neck was feeling better when he arrived at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., on Friday. He underwent treatment for the injury.

Mike Rivera replaced Posada for Friday's game against Baltimore. The non-roster catcher has been sidelined almost two weeks by a strained right hamstring.

New York backup catcher Francisco Cervelli will not play again during spring training because of a strained left hamstring.

-- The Associated Press