Around the Cactus League

Updated: February 19, 2007, 10:57 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Texas Rangers: New Rangers closer Eric Gagne threw off a mound for the first time at spring training Monday, coming through a 37-pitch session with no complications.

Gagne, who had as many surgeries (two) as relief appearances last season, said he will do some light throwing Tuesday before returning to the mound Wednesday or Thursday.

"I felt free," said Gagne, who had elbow surgery in April and season-ending back surgery in July. "It's good to get back on the mound again. I'm going slow, but feel really good right now."

The right-hander mixed in a few halfhearted breaking pitches but threw mostly fastballs without the presence of a radar gun. Manager Ron Washington didn't see the session but said the medical staff told him Gagne felt good.

Elsewhere in the Cactus League:

Los Angeles Angels: Angels manager Mike Scioscia says the competition for three or four roster spots open for bids could be fierce this spring.

"I think there's going to be a lot of competition for spots on this club," Scioscia said Monday at Angels training camp. "It's going to be performance that's going to get them playing time. That's where the real competition is going to take place."

Oakland Athletics: Eleven position players are currently in camp, with SS Bobby Crosby, 2B Mark Ellis, OF Milton Bradley, IF Erubiel Durazo and 1B Dan Johnson among the early arrivals. "It's a nice sign to have them all here and eager to go," A's manager Bob Geren said.

Chicago Cubs: RHP Kerry Wood threw 25 pitches off the mound and will likely get in two or three more sessions before facing hitters. Wood is a few days behind schedule because he slipped and landed on his stomach and chest while getting out of a hot tub at home last week. "It's my second time off the mound, and I'm doing fine," he said.

Arizona Diamondbacks: After compiling a 16-2 record in his first full season in the minors a year ago, 24-year-old right-hander Micah Owings is vying for a spot in the Diamondbacks' starting rotation this spring.

Melvin hasn't ruled out placing Owings in the bullpen, but said he would be a starter if he begins the season in Tucson. The manager isn't sure, though, that a return to the minors is necessary.

"He did very well in Triple-A," Melvin said. "You're always looking to do well in a classification to move up. What else he has to prove I don't know. He's still very young and inexperienced in professional baseball, but that hasn't stopped him from performing wherever he's been."

Seattle Mariners: Rey Ordonez, former Gold Glove infielder with the New York Mets, began his first day on a baseball diamond since 2004 by fielding ground balls hit by a Mariners coach on Monday.

Why is he -- as a non-roster invitee and backup middle infielder on a minor league contract -- even trying to make a team that has finished last in the AL West for three consecutive seasons?

"For my son [Anthony Rey] and my daughter [Sonia Stephanie],'' said Ordonez, a Cuban defector and veteran of 973 games who hasn't done much more than work out in a gym since he walked away from the Chicago Cubs 31 months ago.

"The last two years they've been asking me, 'Daddy, why don't you play again?' Well, here I am," he said...

All-Star and Gold Glove outfielder Ichiro Suzuki's camp arrival was a mini-event in itself, as it is every spring.

Almost two dozen fans and Japanese photographers waited for him in a drizzle for a couple of hours Monday. Then, 15 minutes before he was due in the clubhouse for a late afternoon physical, Suzuki drove alone in a white Infinity SUV through the gate of the players' parking lot.

He then changed quickly into gym clothes for his annual exam. Later, through a team spokesman, he announced that he would be taking batting practice well into the evening and asked that interviews wait until Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.