Around the Grapefruit League

Updated: March 1, 2007, 10:40 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Boston Red Sox: Left fielder Manny Ramirez will see his first action of the spring Friday against the Blue Jays and will probably get a couple of at-bats, manager Terry Francona said.

Ramirez reported to camp Monday, four days after the Red Sox staged their first full-squad workout but three days before the date the team gave him permission to arrive because his mother had a health problem.

On Wednesday, one of Ramirez's agents told The Boston Herald that Ramirez indicated "he would look forward to the opportunity to retire in a Boston uniform." Ramirez is in the next-to-last year of an eight-year, $160 million contract.

Meanwhile, on Friday night, Daisuke Matsuzaka will face the Boston College Eagles in his first spring training start. Francona said he'll study how Dice-K and catcher Jason Varitek are progressing in their ability to communicate.

Elsewhere around the Grapefruit League:

Cleveland Indians: As the Indians opened their spring season with a 13-2 victory over Houston, they announced left-hander Cliff Lee will miss his scheduled start Friday with an abdominal strain.

The extent of Lee's injury was not immediately known. Right-hander Fausto Carmona will start in Lee's place against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.

Jake Westbrook and six relievers combined on a five-hitter against the Astros, and Victor Martinez had three hits, including a three-run homer.

all of Famer Bob Feller, warming up along the sidelines, got the biggest ovation in pregame introductions. The 88-year-old's 266 career wins are the most in Indians history.

Toronto Blue Jays: Roy Halladay opened spring training with two scoreless innings, allowing just one ball out of the infield in Toronto's 4-1 victory over a Red Sox split squad.

Eric Hinske, Halladay's former Toronto teammate, hit a wind-blown double off the starter. Halladay got all six outs on grounders.

He didn't feel any of the forearm problems that bothered him last year.

"I thought about that more the first few times I was playing catch," he said. "After that point, I felt very comfortable with it, and it has kind of really disappeared."

New York Yankees: Johnny Damon hit a leadoff home run, Jason Giambi also homered and Chien-Ming Wang pitched two perfect innings as the Yankees beat the Twins 6-1 in their spring opener.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who has rarely been seen at Legends Field in Tampa this spring, watched from his suite on the first-base side of the stadium.

Giambi, coming off surgery on his left wrist, walked in the first and hit a two-run homer the next inning to make it 5-0. A moment of silence was held before the game for former Yankees Hank Bauer and Cory Lidle.

Yankees right-hander Carl Pavano (bruised left instep) threw 45 pitches off a bullpen mound and is scheduled to pitch Sunday. "I can't wait," he said.

Washington Nationals: Travis Lee may miss the first week of the spring season with a strained right oblique.

Lee said he injured his side last Friday and resumed swinging a bat Tuesday.

"For sure, early next week, we'll see," Lee said Thursday of his projected return.

Lee is competing with Larry Broadway and Robert Fick for the Opening Day first baseman's job while Nick Johnson is recovering from a broken leg.

"I'm not going to rush him back," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "One week is not going to make it or break it for Travis Lee."

Detroit Tigers: Gary Sheffield hit a three-run homer in the third inning off the Phillies' Jamie Moyer, who was making his first start, as Detroit beat Philadelphia 9-7 in Lakeland, Fla.

Mike Maroth said his rehabbed left elbow is no big deal, a point the left-hander couldn't emphasize enough after throwing two shutout innings against the Phillies. It was Maroth's first appearance against big league hitters since last fall when he was recovering from surgery on his injured elbow.

Meanwhile, Detroit will make the 90-mile drive to Tampa, Fla., on Monday to face New York It will be Sheffield's first chance to play against his former team since he was traded to Detroit in November.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he'll have little to say about his batting order for the season until Opening Day. It should be similar to last year, save for the addition of Sheffield.

Cincinnati Reds: With the Reds not yet settled on a closer, reliever Dustin Hermanson agreed to a minor-league contract Thursday.

Hermanson, a 34-year-old right-hander, saved a career-high 34 games for the White Sox during their World Series championship season in 2005. His lower back began to bother him late in the season, costing him the closer's role.

The back problems extended into most of last season, when he made only six appearances in September. Chicago declined a $3.65 million option on Hermanson after the season, paying a $500,000 buyout that allowed him to become a free agent.

Hermanson grew up in Springfield, Ohio, and attended Reds games as a youth. He would get a $500,000, one-year contract if added to the big league roster.

Left-hander Eric Milton gave up a pair of homers in his first spring training start for the Cincinnati Reds, but reported no problems with his surgically repaired elbow.

Milton had surgery to clean out his elbow in September, which limited his offseason workouts. Milton said the elbow felt fine after his appearance today.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.