Reds also activate Freel

Updated: July 21, 2005, 12:55 AM ET news services

Cincinnati Reds: Outfielder Austin Kearns was called up from Triple-A Louisville, and utility player Ryan Freel was activated off the disabled list Wednesday, bringing the Reds back to full strength.

The Reds also lost two players who were claimed off waivers -- infielder Anderson Machado to Colorado and outfielder Kenny Kelly to Washington.

Kearns was optioned to Louisville on June 12, when he was overweight and hitting .224. He lost weight and hit .342 with seven homers and 21 RBI in 28 games at Louisville. He was expected to arrive during the Reds' night game against the Chicago Cubs.

Freel went on the disabled list June 25 with swelling under a toe on his left foot. He played five games on a medical rehabilitation at Double-A Chattanooga, and was back in the lineup Wednesday at second base.

Freel is hitting .287 for the Reds and leads the team with 21 steals. No one else has more than seven.

St. Louis Cardinals: Cardinals outfielder Larry Walker responded to treatment for a stiff neck and was inserted into Wednesday night's lineup against the Milwaukee Brewers.

"He had an early practice and he felt he could go," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "I checked with the trainer and he said, 'Yeah, he loosened up to where he can play.'"

Walker got a day off Tuesday due to an unrelated leg problem and La Russa said earlier Wednesday "his leg is playable but the neck is crooked." Walker has played through ailments this year that have made him consider retiring after the season. He began the night hitting .280 with 11 home runs and 40 RBI.

Walker replaced John Mabry in right field and batted fifth. La Russa moved Scott Rolen, who has struggled since returning from shoulder surgery, down one notch to sixth.

Baltimore Orioles: Catcher Javy Lopez, out since May 25 with a broken bone in his right hand, is expected to start his rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Bowie, The Washington Post reported.

Lopez is expected to play in four games for Bowie, then rejoin the team for Monday's home game against the Texas Rangers.

"I'm pretty excited," Lopez told the paper. "I'm a little bit nervous. It's been a long time. I don't know how I'm going to perform."

Philadelphia Phillies: First baseman Jim Thome won't be sent out on a rehab assignment until Monday, likely removing any chance of Thome being traded before the July 31 deadline.

Thome said he would need at least six to eight games to make sure his back and right elbow will hold up for the rest of the season.

"I want to build the back back up," Thome said. "I want to make sure when I come back the next time I'm ready to come back."

New York Yankees: The Yankees purchased the contract of left-hander Alex Graman from Columbus, and optioned left-hander Wayne Franklin to the Triple-A team a day after he gave up a big home run and was the losing pitcher.

Franklin was 0-1 with a 12.27 ERA in five games with the Yankees. He gave up three hits, including Hank Blalock's two-run homer, while getting just two outs in the eighth inning of a 2-1 loss at Texas on Tuesday night.

Graman had been a starter in the Yankees minor league system until they moved him to the bullpen last month at Columbus. After going 4-5 with a 3.38 ERA in 16 starts for the Clippers, Graman made his first relief appearance June 29. He went 1-1 with a save and a 1.64 ERA in seven appearances, allowing two runs over 11 innings with 16 strikeouts.

"They just basically wanted to try me in the bullpen. They saw what I had done as a starter," Graman said. "I had no problem whatsoever when they make the change. I'm to the stage that whatever helps me take the next step."

Graman, 27, was a third-round pick by the Yankees in the 1999 amateur draft. His only previous major league experience was three appearances (two starts) last season, when he gave up 11 runs and 14 hits over five innings.

Washington Nationals: A company that says it owns the trademark rights to the name Nationals baseball club answered a lawsuit brought by Major League Baseball with countercharges of its own Wednesday.

Bygone Sports LLC said it filed papers in U.S. District Court in Manhattan challenging claims brought last month by Major League Baseball Properties Inc. and Baseball Expos L.P.

The baseball entities had asked the court to declare that the trademark does not belong to the company because its sole purpose in filing for a trademark was to capitalize on the naming of the new baseball team, formerly the Montreal Expos.

Bygone Sports asked the court to block the retailing arm of Major League Baseball from using the Washington Nationals trademark in any way that interferes with the use of it by Bygone. It also sought unspecified damages and an accounting of all sales and profits obtained by Major League Baseball by using the name.

Bygone Sports co-founder Michael Bergman said in a release that Major League Baseball failed to check to see if anyone else had rights to the nostalgic sports name before naming the new team.

He said MLB also could have challenged Bygone Sports' September 2002 trademark application but failed to do so.

"We believe that the lawsuit filed against us is no more than an effort by Major League Baseball Properties and Baseball Expos to usurp our legitimate trademark rights, while seeking to avoid the consequences of their failure to do their homework," he said.

The MLB lawsuit said Bygone Sports tried to "turn a quick, undeserved profit" by seeking trademark registration rights to the club's name even though it has been used for decades to refer to Washington teams.

Nationals part ways with Cordero: Wil Cordero's third tour of duty with the Nationals franchise is over after just 29 games.

The Nationals designated Cordero for assignment.

The 33-year-old Cordero was batting just .118 (6-for-51) with two RBI this season, including 0-of-18 with runners in scoring position and 0-for-14 as a pinch hitter. He had played for the Montreal Expos from 1992-95 and 2002-03.

Also Wednesday, the Nationals claimed outfielder Kenny Kelly off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds. A former quarterback at the University of Miami, the 26-year-old Kelly batted 3-for-9 with two RBI in seven games with the Reds.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox activated infielder Tony Graffanino and optioned third baseman Kevin Youkilis to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Graffanino was in the starting lineup at second base against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays one day after he was acquired from the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday for two prospects.

Youkilis hit .286 with a homer and nine RBI in 31 games for Boston.

Pittsburgh Pirates: A bankrupt club has agreed to return the 1979 World Series trophy to the Pirates if the team helps the group sell the rest of its memorabilia.

The Pirates and the former Allegheny Club reached a deal Tuesday regarding the ownership of the trophy, now on loan to the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Sen. John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center.

But the club's creditors and a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge must approve the deal before it can move forward.

The Allegheny Club operated a restaurant at the Pirates' former home, Three Rivers Stadium. The club declared bankruptcy in 2002. It has since merged with the HYP Pittsburgh Club and now is known as The Allegheny HYP Club.

The Allegheny HYP Club wanted to sell the trophy and other memorabilia to satisfy debts of the former Allegheny Club.

But the Pirates maintained the trophy and memorabilia belong to the team and that the items were only on loan to the Allegheny Club.

Under the deal, the Pirates will receive the trophy and a rebuilt section of the outfield wall from the former Forbes Field, now on display at the Carnegie Science Center.

The Pirates have not decided where they will display the items, attorney Larry Silverman said.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.