Around the Grapefruit League

Updated: March 8, 2007, 8:42 PM ET
Associated Press

Toronto Blue Jays: Frank Thomas made his first appearance for the Blue Jays, going 1-for-3 with an RBI Thursday in a "B" game against the Phillies.

"I prefer to start late like this because you know what you're doing out there," said Thomas, who signed an $18.12 million, two-year contract this offseason. "You've had enough BP, enough cage work to know what you're doing out there."

Thomas is scheduled to be a designated hitter in Friday's "A" game against the Astros.

A.J. Burnett started in the B game and allowed three runs and four hits in three innings, mixing in his curveball for the first time. He struck out two and walked one.

Elsewhere in the Grapefruit League:

New York Yankees: First baseman Andy Phillips rejoined the team Thursday after missing one week to be with his mother, who was critically injured in a car accident last week in Alabama.

Phillips said his mother, Linda, is improving and in stable condition. She has undergone two operations, including one on her hip.

Yankees manager Joe Torre said Phillips will work out for a few days before maybe playing in a game by the end of the weekend. Phillips is trying to win the right-handed half of the Yankees' first base platoon.

Meanwhile, GM Brian Cashman said right fielder Bobby Abreu (strained right oblique) should resume swinging a bat this weekend. Cashman added that Abreu's status for Opening Day has not been determined.

Cincinnati Reds: Ken Griffey Jr. took batting practice for the second consecutive day. Griffey broke his left hand while wrestling with his children in December.

Griffey hit off a pitcher for the first time on Wednesday, facing Kyle Lohse.

"Griffey had some soreness," manager Jerry Narron said. "It was his first live batting practice and he looked like he hasn't played any."

Griffey will let Narron know when he's ready to play

New York Mets: Back on the mound after a bout with arthritis in his neck, Orlando Hernandez was hit hard in his first outing of spring training.

El Duque gave up five runs and six hits in just two innings during the New York Mets' 8-7 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

"I was able to throw all my pitches and not feel the pain in my neck, so it was good," the 41-year-old right-hander said. "The fastball was up and it was hit, so now I get ready for my next start, and that's it."

Mets manager Willie Randolph said rehabbing reliever Duaner Sanchez was being sent home for repeatedly showing up late for his workouts. Randolph said Sanchez, who injured his right shoulder in a car accident last summer, had been warned about his tardiness. Randolph will consult with GM Omar Minaya to determine whether there will be additional disciplinary action.

Cleveland Indians: Cliff Lee's lingering abdominal injury put a damper on the Indians' 7-6 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

After Shin-Soo Choo's two-run single in the ninth inning won it, manager Eric Wedge addressed the status of Lee, who has yet to pitch in a game this spring training.

"We're remaining optimistic," Wedge said, adding that it is premature to worry about juggling a rotation that appeared set when camp opened.

Lee has not progressed, according to trainer Lonnie Soloff. He said if the left-hander, expected to be the Indians' No. 3 starter after winning 46 games during the past three years, could not throw a bullpen session on Sunday he won't pitch for 10 to 12 days.

Washington Nationals: Infielder Tony Womack was unconditionally released as the Nationals cut their spring training roster to 56 players with a series of moves.

The team also announced that first baseman Nick Johnson (broken right leg) and left-handers Mike O'Connor (elbow surgery) and Brandon Claussen (shoulder surgery) are expected to start the season on the disabled list.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Outfielder Jody Gerut was released after nearly two years of inactivity with Pittsburgh due to a knee injury.

The 29-year-old Gerut had only 18 at-bats with the Pirates since being acquired from the Cubs on July 31, 2005, for outfielder Matt Lawton and $1,290,984. Gerut's right knee slowed him from the beginning, and he played less than two weeks.

Also Thursday, GM Dave Littlefield said the Pirates will take a look at first baseman Brad Eldred in the outfield in an attempt to see how he might fit with their roster. Eldred, a 26-year-old prospect who had been to projected to start the season at Triple-A Indianapolis, began the day with four homers in 15 plate appearances, a .462 average.

Philadelphia Phillies: A burst water pipe in the Phillies dugout caused a momentary delay in the second inning of their spring game against Cleveland in Winter Haven, Fla.

Indians minor league first baseman Michael Aubrey lined a foul ball into the Phillies dugout, hitting a pipe underneath the bench. Phillies players began jumping out of the dugout to avoid the gushing water -- drawing laughter from the sun-drenched fans.

Players and maintenance workers covered the leak with towels and the game resumed, only to be interrupted twice more when the spurt resumed. All the Phillies crowded into the other end of the dugout.

By the middle of the third inning, the grounds crew at Chain of Lakes Ballpark found the shut-off valve -- though puddles of water remained on the warning track and in the dugout.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press