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Buehrle declares himself ready for Opening Day

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Anxious in his first start in 10 days, Mark
Buehrle couldn't keep the ball down and was tagged for two runs in
the first inning.

Not that it mattered. His foot didn't hurt and that's all the
Chicago White Sox were concerned about.

Buehrle took the loss after giving up three runs Tuesday in
Colorado's 4-3 victory over Chicago, but the White Sox's ace pitched
five pain-free innings to clear up any doubts about his readiness
for Opening Day.

"No pain. I was up in the zone a little more than I wanted to
be, but I'm not worried about going into Opening Day about my
control," Buehrle said. "I was up in the strike zone and threw a
few more pitches than I wanted to, but no big deal."

Buehrle injured his left foot shagging balls in the outfield on
March 20, a day after he pitched six scoreless innings against
Kansas City. The left-hander had to lay off for a few days and
gradually built up to a bullpen session last week before being
cleared to pitch against the Rockies.

Buehrle started off shaky, giving up three hits -- two doubles --
and two runs in the first inning. He couldn't keep the ball down
with the excitement of being back, but settled down after that. He
gave up an unearned run in the fourth inning after throwing errors
by shortstop Juan Uribe and catcher A.J. Pierzynski, and allowed
eight hits overall.

"Putting it to the test today and having a little more
adrenaline going, actually be in a game situation, I guess that's a
little bit more of a test," Buehrle said.

Rockies starter Darren Oliver began spring in the mix for a spot
in Colorado's rotation, but was expected to be bumped to the
bullpen after the Rockies decided to fill the final two spots with
right-handers Jamey Wright and Shawn Chacon.

Oliver was scheduled to pitch two innings out of the bullpen on
Tuesday, but wound up starting after expressing concerns to manager
Clint Hurdle about pitching in relief.

Though he pitched well against the White Sox -- two hits in two
innings -- Oliver's chances of making the team now seem remote since
the rotation is full and he doesn't want to pitch in the bullpen.

Oliver is scheduled to meet with general manager Dan O'Dowd on
Wednesday to talk about his future with the team.

"It's (relieving) not the only way, but it's going to make it
very difficult" to make the team, Hurdle said. "He's going to
have a conversation with Dan tomorrow and we'll see where it
leads."

Oliver said he figures the Rockies have already made a decision,
though he's not sure what it is.

"I feel I did everything I could to make the ball club. That's
up to them to make their decision," Oliver said. "Sometimes you
can do well, but things don't work out for you. That's just the way
this game is."

The Rockies got some good news before the game when results from
an MRI showed closer Chin-hui Tsao has rotator cuff tendinitis and
no structural damage in his shoulder. He received an injection and
could throw as early as Thursday.

It's a good thing, too. Left-hander Brian Fuentes, one of the
players in the mix for the closer's role if Tsao is out, had
another difficult outing.

Entering in the ninth inning, he gave up conseutive two-out
singles, then left a ball up in the zone to Aaron Rowand, who hit
it well over the scoreboard in left for a three-run homer. Fuentes
has allowed eight runs in seven innings this spring.

"I'd like for him to be in that mix, but he needs to pitch
better. We're running out of time," Hurdle said.

Game notes
LHP Joe Kennedy, Colorado's scheduled opening day starter,
will make his final spring start Wednesday against the Chicago
Cubs. ... White Sox RHP Jon Adkins will start Wednesday in place of
Freddy Garcia, who was bumped back a day so he will be lined up to
pitch the second game of the season against Cleveland. ... The
Rockies named OF Cory Sullivan spring MVP. He responded by hitting
a pinch-hit triple to add to his .391 average.