Around the Cactus League

Updated: March 28, 2007, 9:59 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

San Francisco Giants: Russ Ortiz will be San Francisco's fifth starter just as the Giants have intended since signing the right-hander in January for a second stint with the club.

"He's doing great," pitching coach Dave Righetti said before the club's final Cactus League game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. "I never looked at him any other way than that. I thought of him as one of the guys."

The rotation will go left-hander Barry Zito -- the scheduled starter Opening Day on April 3 against the San Diego Padres -- followed by right-hander Matt Cain, righty Matt Morris, lefty Noah Lowry and Ortiz.

"It's great," Ortiz said. "I told someone the other day that I'd be one of the happiest guys to have a spot on the team, especially in the rotation. I did the work I needed to do because I love to play the game and I would love to help the team win a championship."

Ortiz hopes to return to the pitcher he was previously with the Giants and get results like his career-high 21 wins in 2003 with the Braves that earned him a trip to the All-Star Game.

His teammates believe he can bounce back this year.

"To see him go from having such success to not at all was disheartening," said first baseman Rich Aurilia, also back for a second stint in San Francisco. "I've always had a lot of respect for him. I'm proud of him for doing what he did this winter playing winter ball. A lot of guys would have stayed home and collected their money. I think he will rebound. A lot of times when you come to familiar surroundings, things come back."

Elsewhere in the Cactus League:

Chicago Cubs: Kerry Wood is back in a familiar position: trying to get healthy after another bout with injuries.

Wood threw only 18 pitches in his last outing Sunday and his arm felt weak when he left the game. The shoulder stiffened up more than usual the next day.

"I knew that I had put too much time and energy and this thing was strong enough to where it shouldn't be feeling weak after 18 pitches," Wood said. "I don't really know. I just know it didn't feel as good as I wanted it to feel."

Wood will treat the shoulder, which has been bothering him since 2005 when he first went to the bullpen. He had arthroscopic surgery late that season and is hoping to get the shoulder back to where he thought it was at the beginning of this spring, after he opted to rehab rather than have another surgery last year.

"I didn't do any MRIs or anything like that, I don't think it's to that point. We tested my strength and my strength is fine, so that's a great sign. Nothing major is wrong," he said. "I've been through a lot with this shoulder, so it's something to be careful with and just take my time with."

Chicago White Sox: John Danks has landed the job as the No. 5 starter for the White Sox. It won't last very long if he keeps walking hitters.

The rookie left-hander, pitching for the first time since winning a spot in the rotation, was wild with six walks in an 8-0 loss to Arizona on Wednesday.

"If I happen to do this at the big league level, it will be a short trip," Danks said. "I don't plan on doing this."

Danks gave up six runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. He entered the game with a 2-0 record, a 4.32 ERA and four walks in 16 2/3 innings.

Seattle Mariners: After 14 years of toiling in the minors, it appears for the moment that Jamie Burke may finally get what has long eluded him, a spot on the major league roster for Opening Day. His competition in camp, Rene Rivera, was optioned to Double-A on Wednesday.

"It would be hard to explain it -- it's a feeling I've never had," Burke said in anticipation of the moment.

The 35-year-old got his first major league exposure with five at-bats for the Angels in 2001, and got eight more with the White Sox in 2003.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Reed, Seattle's Opening Day center fielder for the last two seasons, will not even be on the roster for Monday's opener against Oakland. In a surprise move, he was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday. Also cut was Aaron Small, who went 10-0 for the Yankees as a midseason call up in 2005. He signed as a minor league free agent in early January and on Wednesday was was reassigned to minor league camp.

Kansas City Royals: The Royals optioned right-hander Brian Bannister to Triple-A Omaha on Wednesday after a rocky spring training.

Bannister, who was obtained in a December trade with the New York Mets for Ambiorix Burgos, was 0-1 with a 10.03 ERA in four stars. He allowed four home runs, including three in a row, in a start against the Oakland Athletics, and opponents were hitting .345 off him.

With Bannister beginning the season in the minors, manager Buddy Bell announced right-hander Brandon Duckworth would be the No. 5 starter. Duckworth was 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA in four spring training games. Duckworth's first start will be April 8 against Detroit.

Outfielder Shane Costa, who hit .304 in 11 games, also was optioned to Omaha. Kansas City also reassigned right-handers Jason Standridge and Zach Day, infielders Alex Gonzalez and Fernando Cortez and catcher Paul Phillips to the minor league camp, and sent right-hander Kenny Ray to Omaha. Shortstop Angel Sanchez was placed on the 60-day disabled list with an elbow injury.

Oakland Athletics: The Athletics sent outfielder Ryan Goleski back to the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.

"It's real disappointing because I liked being here," said Goleski, who was acquired in December. "I'm wondering why Cleveland wants me back. I don't know where I fit in there."

A's assistant GM David Forst said the A's tried to work out a deal with the Indians to keep Goleski but couldn't close the trade.

"This whole thing doesn't make sense to me," said Goleski, who hit .152 in 21 games during spring training. "I had the opportunity to go from Double-A to the major leagues. Anyone would desire that. I'm disappointed in going back."

Texas Rangers: The Rangers optioned right-handed relievers Frank Francisco and Wes Littleton to Triple-A Oklahoma.

The Rangers also said Jamey Wright, who came to spring training on a minor league contract, will be their No. 5 starter behind Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Brandon McCarthy and Robinson Tejeda.

After going 2-1 with a 1.73 ERA in 33 appearances as a rookie for the Rangers last spring, Littleton has struggled this spring. He was 0-2 with a 15.00 ERA in seven games, allowing 10 runs and 10 hits, including three home runs. He walked 11 and struck out three in his six innings.

Francisco had a good spring, but the hard-throwing reliever is still recovering from elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2005. He was 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in six games, giving up two earned runs over 7 1/3 innings with six walks and six strikeouts.

San Diego Padres: Right-hander Tim Stauffer, the Padres' first-round pick in the 2003 amateur draft, was optioned to Triple-A Portland on Wednesday.

Stauffer made only one start for the Padres last year, but it was a big one. Hastily summoned from Portland, made an emergency start on Aug. 21 for ailing Chan Ho Park and beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2. Stauffer was optioned back to Portland two days later.

Stauffer made 14 starts for the Padres in 2005.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.