Around the Cactus League

Updated: February 26, 2007, 11:37 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Texas Rangers: After watching the first four days of practice, manager Ron Washington said he has "no doubt" that Sammy Sosa will make the team as the designated hitter. Then Washington added, "if he doesn't perform, doubt will probably set in." The games start Friday.

Instead of pitching in the Cactus League opener Friday, No. 1 starter Kevin Millwood will start in a "B" game earlier in the day. Washington said that's what Millwood, a 16-game winner last year, wanted to do.

Country music singer Charley Pride, a longtime regular at Rangers camp, was in uniform for the first time Monday. "I know he can sing," said Washington, who met Pride for the first time.

Elsewhere in the Cactus League:

Arizona Diamondbacks: Randy Johnson felt a little sore after his session on the mound Monday but said that was to be expected.

It was Johnson's second mound stint in his comeback from back surgery.

He said the soreness was "the residual effects from the first time out."

Johnson said he threw 35 pitches, stopping for a break about halfway through. He said he felt much better in the later portion.

Chicago Cubs: Oft-injured pitcher Mark Prior was pushed up to start next Monday in a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners.

After the team worked out Monday, Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Prior will pitch in Chicago's fifth exhibition game. Only 24 hours earlier, Piniella said the right-hander would not make an appearance until the second time through the rotation late next week. Originally, Piniella had planned to start left-hander Ted Lilly against the Mariners on March 5.

Lilly still will pitch, but he'll follow Prior in the game.

"We're going to let Prior start the game because he needs a little more time to warm up," Piniella said. "I had a nice talk with him today. We brought him in here and had a nice conversation with him."

Chicago White Sox: Gavin Floyd, who is competing for a spot in the rotation after being acquired in the trade that sent Freddy Garcia to the Phillies, rolled his ankle during an intrasquad game and will be sidelined a few days, the Chicago Tribune reported.

He suffered the injury when he landed awkwardly after delivering a pitch to teammate Joe Crede.

Oakland Athletics: Dan Haren, who experimented with a cut fastball last season, hopes to add the pitch to his repertoire as he looks for ways to improve his performance.

Haren spent the offseason in Northern California, throwing to A's bullpen catcher Brandon Buckley five or six times a week and concentrating on the cutter.

"It was a good time to work on it and bring into spring training," said the 26-year-old who went 14-13 with a 4.12 ERA last year. "If it doesn't work out, I still have time to go back. It was a benefit to have Brandon around. If anyone knows me and my mechanics, it's him."

San Francisco Giants: It's no surprise that Barry Bonds will not play in San Francisco's Cactus League opener Thursday against the Cubs.

The slugger rarely treks to road ballparks -- as close as they are around here -- during the exhibition season. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Monday he is opting to keep Bonds back at Scottsdale Stadium to get his work in despite how healthy and strong the San Francisco star has been feeling so far.

"Does it matter?" Bonds said with a smile after his workout Monday. "It's the same question every year. ... I'm exhausted."

Bonds' first chance to play at home in Scottsdale will be Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers. Sometimes in recent springs, a reeling Bonds had the chance to be the designated hitter even against National League teams when the opposing club agreed to it. Bochy doesn't see that being necessary this year.

Seattle Mariners: George Sherrill is taking it easy this spring training. But he can't take it as easy as he and his sore arm may want to.

The Mariners' left-handed reliever has soreness and stiffness in his pitching triceps and shoulder. But that didn't keep him from throwing 50 pitches as scheduled in the bullpen Monday. The session was breezy, with Sherrill appearing to throw at less than full velocity while an assistant trainer watched a few feet away.

Sherrill said a "tweak" in his elbow caused pain throughout the last half of 2006. He was 2-4 with a 4.28 ERA in a team-high 72 appearances last season.

"It will probably come and go all season," Sherrill said of the new soreness. "It probably will always be there."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.