White Sox 3

(12-16, 6-8 away)

Rockies 4

(17-11, 10-5 home)

    3:05 PM ET, March 29, 2005

    Hi Corbett Field, Tucson, Arizona 

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    CWS 20000003 3 - -
    COL 00210001 - 4 - -

    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.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press