<
>

Johnson in regular-season form vs. Braves

3/24/2005

New York Yankees: Randy Johnson pitched like an opening day
starter then was given the honor of making his first start in
pinstripes in the Yankees' opener.

Johnson learned that he will start April 3 against Boston after
he gave up one hit over six scoreless innings Thursday, and Derek
Jeter went 2-for-3 in his return from a foot injury to lift the
Yankees to a 12-2 win over the Atlanta Braves.

"It's a big upset," New York manager Joe Torre said jokingly.
"He basically pitched today like he's going to pitch. He's been
doing it for years. It's nice to see him do it in our uniform. It
seemed so effortless for him today."

It will be Johnson's 13th opening day assignment, tying him with
Houston's Roger Clemens for the most among active pitchers. The
major league record is 16 by Tom Seaver.

Johnson retired 10 straight -- four on strikeouts -- before
walking Marcus Giles with one out in the fourth. He then caught
Giles, who was leaning toward second on his lead off first, and
made the initial throw to first as Giles was thrown out attempting
to steal second.

The left-hander struck out eight and walked one. He received a
standing ovation while walking off the mound after striking out
Rafael Furcal to end the sixth. He threw 52 of 71 pitches for
strikes.

Chicago Cubs: This time it was a tight back that kept Kerry Wood from making his scheduled start.

Wood was supposed to make his first start since walking off the
mound March 9 with a tight shoulder but woke up with a bad back
Thursday. Instead, Glendon Rusch pitched five scoreless innings to
lead the Cubs over the Oakland Athletics 5-2.

"He didn't sleep well last night, and his back is real tight so
we decided not to take a chance in throwing him," Cubs manager
Dusty Baker said. "It's not his arm. It's his back, which he has
trouble with every once in a while. He wanted to pitch, but we
thought it would be better not to take a chance with him."

Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild said if Wood feels fine
Friday, he will throw a simulated game.

Wood is set to start the Cubs home opener April 8 at Wrigley
Field against the Milwaukee Brewers. Until he got hurt, Wood was
supposed to be the opening day starter but Carlos Zambrano will be
on the mound April 4 against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.

Texas Rangers: Reliever Frankie Francisco was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right elbow
Thursday, four days after he hurt it in his first bullpen session
of the spring.

"We talked to Frankie for about 20 minutes and reminded him
we're more concerned about what he's doing in October, not in
April," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said.

Francisco, 25, would be eligible to return the fifth game of the
season at Seattle.

A sore shoulder had already limited Francisco's activity this
spring before he injured his elbow.

Francisco went 5-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 45 games for the Rangers
as a rookie last season. He struck out 60 and walked 28 in 51 1/3
innings as a setup man for closer Francisco Cordero, who set a club
record with 49 saves.

New York Mets: Mike Cameron returned to the lineup with a different view from the outfield.

Cameron played his first game since having offseason wrist
surgery and moved to right field to accommodate the Mets' new
center fielder, Carlos Beltran. Cameron went 1-for-3 and lost a
ball in the overcast sky in six innings of New York's 6-3 loss to
the Tigers.

A two-time Gold Glove winner, the 32-year-old Cameron didn't get
his first chance in right until the fifth inning when he casually
caught on the run a flyball slicing down the foul line.

On Tony Giarratano's fly in the sixth, Cameron shielded his eyes
but the ball fell in front of him and was ruled a double.

"It was definitely catchable," Cameron said. "But it's just
something I'm going to have to learn, especially with the different
spin on the ball."

Cleveland Indians: The swing is strong. The attitude is
fine. The back seems refreshed. Juan Gonzalez looks like himself
again, something the Indians weren't expecting.

Gonzalez hit his third home run of the spring, and just missed
connecting for two others, and Scott Elarton pitched six shutout
innings to lead the Indians to an 8-0 win over the Los Angeles
Dodgers.

Gonzalez hit a two-run shot in the first inning off Dodgers
starter Edwin Jackson, and Travis Hafner and Casey Blake also
homered for Cleveland. In two other at-bats, Gonzalez pulled balls
down the left-field line that were only foul by a couple feet.

"Juan had some good swings," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
"He just missed on a couple, too."

With just a week left in training camp, the Indians still
haven't decided if Gonzalez will be their starting right fielder.
He has missed some time with a strained left hamstring, but when
he's been healthy and in the lineup, Gonzalez has produced.

If the Indians keep Gonzalez, top prospect Grady Sizemore will
begin the year at Triple-A Buffalo.

San Francisco: Jerome Williams needed a successful
start after a shaky spring.

Williams pitched five strong innings for his first Cactus League
win, retiring nine batters in a row during the
Giants' 11-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

The right-hander, the team's fifth starter, bounced back after a
no-decision last Saturday against San Diego -- his first outing in
14 days after heading home to Hawaii to visit his ill father.

Williams pitched in a minor league game March 12 before going to
Hawaii. He smiled and seemed upbeat after making just his third
spring start.

"Especially with what was going on before with my life to come
back and try to get a good outing," he said, reporting his dad is
doing better. "It's a really big confidence booster. Hopefully,
when the season starts I'll keep it rolling."