MLB News and Notes May - 31

MLB News and Notes May - 31

Blue Jays demote Vermilyea, call-up Clark
May 30, 2007

TORONTO (AP)-The Toronto Blue Jays optioned right-handed pitcher Jaime Vermilyea to Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday, purchased the contract of infielder Howie Clark and designated infielder Ryan Roberts for assignment.

The move gives the Blue Jays 13 position players and 12 pitchers.

Vermilyea pitched in just two games for Toronto, working six scoreless innings. He allowed five hits, struck out two and walked none. His most recent appearance was May 10 against Boston.

Clark was batting .246 with three home runs and 13 RBI in 14 games at Syracuse.

Roberts, who was sent down following Monday's game, appeared in eight games for Toronto. He batted .077 with no home runs and no RBIs.

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Mota activated after 50-game suspension
May 30, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -Guillermo Mota received plenty of support from his teammates when he joined the New York Mets on Wednesday after serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

Mota got a pat on the back from Tom Glavine before the Mets faced the San Francisco Giants. Fellow reliever Billy Wagner stood nearby as Mota answered questions about the suspension.

The right-hander said it was difficult watching the team while he was out.

``I was sitting and watching and thinking I don't want to do it again,'' Mota said. ``It's something you just learn from.''

The Mets optioned right-hander Ambiorix Burgos to Triple-A New Orleans to make room for Mota, who went 4-3 with a 4.53 ERA last season with Cleveland and New York. The Mets acquired Mota from the Indians on Aug. 20 and re-signed him to a $5 million, two-year contract in the offseason.

Mota wound up losing 59 days' pay, or $580,328 of his $1.8 million salary for this season. He was getting ready at New Orleans before joining the team and said he felt like he was ready to help.

He wouldn't talk about why he tested positive, saying he said everything he wanted to say about it in his initial statement. Right after the suspension was announced by Major League Baseball in November, Mota took full responsibility for his actions.

``I feel terrible and I promise this is the first and last time that this will happen,'' he said. ``I am determined to prove to you that this was one mistake.''

The 33-year-old Mota, a native of the Dominican Republic, has a 26-27 record with seven saves in eight major league seasons with the Montreal Expos, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida, Cleveland and the Mets.

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Players hold meeting; Piniella huddles with management
May 30, 2007

CHICAGO (AP) -The Chicago Cubs held a lengthy players-only meeting Wednesday, one day after a mistake-filled loss to the Florida Marlins that manager Lou Piniella said ``might be our worst game of the year.''

Piniella and team executives held a long meeting of their own before Wednesday night's game against Florida.

``Everybody's on the same page,'' Piniella said. ``It has been a little bit frustrating. But everybody's on the same page and we just go forward.''

Going forward may mean settling on a lineup. The Cubs have platoons in center and right field and at shortstop.

``I've tried my darnedest to play everybody,'' Piniella said. ``It's getting to the point where we're going to have to get really set. I can't do it at every position. ... But just play the people who are getting the job done the best.''

The Cubs had lost seven of nine and were third in the NL Central at 22-28 after Tuesday's 9-4 defeat - certainly not the start they expected after hiring Piniella and committing about $300 million to lure and retain players in the offseason.

They're showing the same fundamental breakdowns that plagued them the past few years under former manager Dusty Baker, and there were several on Tuesday.

Piniella bemoaned mistakes on the bases during his pregame session with reporters, then watched Mark DeRosa and Michael Barrett commit two in the second inning.

DeRosa got thrown out at third trying to advance from second on a grounder to short, and Barrett got picked off second.

On Wednesday, reporters were not allowed into the clubhouse until about 4:15 p.m. - about 45 minutes later than normal - as players tried to figure out how to escape this funk.

``We have too good a team to be in the situation we are,'' first baseman Derrek Lee said.

Outfielder Cliff Floyd said they're pressing - himself and Lee included.

``We've got to go out there and believe,'' Floyd said. ``If you put pressure on yourself, nothing's going to (go) right.''

Piniella said the idea for the players meeting was Lee's and that the session with management was just something they hold ``about once a month.''

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Baseball Today - May 31
Thu, May 31, 2007
By Associated Press

SCOREBOARD

Thursday, May 31

Chicago White Sox at Toronto (7:07 p.m. EDT). Roy Halladay returns from the DL for the Blue Jays, squaring off against Mark Buehrle.

STARS

Wednesday

-Dan Haren, Athletics, gave up four hits in eight innings to win his sixth straight decision in a 6-1 victory over Texas.

-Derek Lowe, Dodgers, pitched seven scoreless innings, reached base three times and scored once as the Los Angeles Dodgers shut out the Washington Nationals for the second straight game, 5-0.

-Eric Byrnes, Diamondbacks, homered twice to lead Arizona to a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

-Dan Uggla, Marlins, hit two home runs, powering Florida to a 9-0 win at Chicago.

-Aaron Harang, Reds, threw a six-hitter to help Cincinnati beat Houston 4-3.

-Erik Bedard, Orioles, pitched eight sharp innings in Baltimore's 3-0 win against Kansas City.

BLANKED

Derek Lowe pitched seven scoreless innings, reached base three times and scored once as the Los Angeles Dodgers shut out the Washington Nationals for the second straight game, 5-0 Wednesday night. Los Angeles opened the three-game series Tuesday with a 10-0 victory. Lowe combined with relievers Joe Beimel and Rudy Seanez on a four-hitter.

HOUSTON'S GOT A PROBLEM

The Astros lost their 10th straight, 4-3 to Cincinnati on Wednesday. The skid is one short of the team record set in 1995.

SLUMPING

Milwaukee lost for the seventh time in eight games, 9-3 to Atlanta on Wednesday. The Brewers have lost 14 of 19 following a 24-10 start and the NL Central leader has dropped six consecutive series.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Prince Fielder hit his league-leading 18th homer and 12th of the month to tie a club record with three others in Milwaukee's 9-3 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday. ... Gil Meche threw 7 1-3 innings and gave up just one run, but Kansas City lost 3-0 to Baltimore.

STREAKING

Minnesota won for the ninth time in 12 games with a 7-6 win over Chicago on Wednesday. ... Arizona has won seven straight after a 4-3 win at Philadelphia. ... Paul Byrd ran his walkless streak to 43 innings and threw first-pitch strikes to 25 of 27 hitters as Cleveland beat Boston 8-4. Byrd also won his fifth straight decision.

OLD TIMERS DAY

43-year-old Randy Johnson and 44-year-old Jamie Moyer combined to set a record for the matchup of the oldest lefties in history during Arizona's 4-3 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday. At a combined 88 years, 90 days, Johnson and Moyer broke the record set the last time these two faced off in early May.

SNAPPED

San Francisco stopped a four-game losing streak with a 3-0 win over New York on Wednesday.

LIFTOFF

New York announced Wednesday that Roger Clemens will make his first start of the season on Monday at Chicago after the Rocket threw a bullpen session at Yankee Stadium. The 44-year-old Clemens has made three minor league starts since signing a prorated $28 million contract with the Yankees this month.

SPEAKING

''I saw the ump say, 'You need to come touch first base,' and I was like, 'Oh, OK.' I didn't know what to do. It was weird, man. That was something totally different. But I like it. We won.'' - Minnesota's Torii Hunter after his four-pitch, bases-loaded walk forced in the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning and sent the Twins past the White Sox 7-6 on Wednesday.

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Notes from Wednesday's AL games
May 30, 2007

CHICAGO: Twenty of the last 28 runs scored against the White Sox have come with two outs, including the game-ending, bases-loaded walk David Aardsma issued to Minnesota's Torii Hunter on Wednesday. But that was the least of manager Ozzie Guillen's concerns on Wednesday during a postgame rant about his struggling team. ``They need to look themselves in the mirror and decide what they're going to do,'' Guillen said. ... After going 12-11 in April, the White Sox are 12-13 in May with one game left to play. ``We keep saying, 'It's early, it's early,' but it's almost June,'' catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. ... OF Scott Podsednik, who has been out for the past six weeks due to a strained groin muscle, is slowly progressing. He could begin a rehabilitation assignment next week.

MINNESOTA: C Joe Mauer's return from the disabled list has been delayed. The reigning AL batting champ was sore for a second straight day and will not be activated on Friday as planned. He'll travel with the team on a six-game road trip and see if his strained left quadriceps muscle fully heals. ... Wednesday's promotion of RH Kevin Slowey to the rotation led to the demotion of RH reliever Julio DePaula, who gave up seven runs and walked five in three appearances while recording only six outs. He was brought up when RH Jesse Crain got hurt. ... Five of Minnesota's 27 victories this season have come in the last at-bat. ... In RF Michael Cuddyer's last 11 games, he's batting .410 with 14 runs, three homers, 11 RBIs and 12 walks.

TEXAS: Struggling OF Nelson Cruz had the day off. He is hitless in his last four games (0-for-12) and 1-for-19 (.053) over his last six. ``I can't say I see him pressing,'' manager Ron Washington said. ``I can say I don't see him making the adjustments he needs to be making.'' ... Sammy Sosa went 0-for-4 and remained two home runs from becoming the fifth player to reach the 600 mark. He hasn't hit one out since May 22 off Minnesota's Johan Santana, Sosa's 10th homer of the year. ``He'll probably tell you he's not (pressing), but he probably is,'' Washington said. ``It's only human nature. When he least expects it, that's probably when it's going to happen.''

OAKLAND: Injured DH Mike Piazza, out with a sprained right shoulder, took a few light swings and said his shoulder is still ``cranky.'' He is scheduled to get more treatment during Thursday's off day and hopes to accelerate his rehab process next week. Piazza said he is on target to return in mid-June. ... As planned, OF Milton Bradley came off the disabled list - his second stint already this year with a strained left hamstring - and manager Bob Geren will have his projected starting outfield intact for the first time all season Friday when center fielder Mark Kotsay is activated. Kotsay had surgery on his back in early March. ... The A's designated Hiram Bocachica for assignment to make room for Bradley. ... Before the game, the A's honored Vida Blue, Mike Norris, Dave Stewart and Jim ``Mudcat'' Grant, four of the 13 African-American 20-game winners in major league history. Grant, who wrote ``The Black Aces: Baseball's Only African-American 20-Game Winners,'' sang the national anthem and Stewart threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Marco Scutaro started at second for the second straight game while Mark Ellis nurses a swollen knee. Ellis could play again as soon as Friday, though his first child is scheduled to be induced during Thursday's off day.

CLEVELAND:
C Kelly Shoppach replaced Victor Martinez, Cleveland's leader in RBIs, in the starting lineup. ``He needs a day'' off, manager Eric Wedge said of Martinez. ... DH Travis Hafner was 5-for-30 going into Wednesday's finale of the nine-game road trip. In the opener of the Boston series, he went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. ``He's been right there on the verge of getting over the hump, but it just hasn't quite happened,'' Wedge said. ... Cleveland entered the game ranked second in the AL in on-base percentage. Only Boston was better.

BOSTON:
DH David Ortiz returned to the lineup after missing three games with tight hamstrings. ... Alex Cora started at shortstop in place of Julio Lugo, who was batting .125 (5-for-40) in his previous nine games. Lugo will have a day off Thursday when the Red Sox are idle. ``He's fine,'' Boston manager Terry Francona said. ... RHP Mike Timlin is scheduled to make another rehab start Thursday night in Pawtucket. Timlin's third relief appearance during his current rehab stint came Tuesday when he gave up one run, three hits and a walk for the Triple-A team. ... CF Coco Crisp, hitless in his previous eight at bats, moved from the No. 8 spot in the lineup to Lugo's leadoff spot. ``I think it's good for him,'' Francona said. Crisp grounded out in his first at bat.

NEW YORK: The Yankees canceled batting practice before Wednesday's game at Toronto. Players were not expected to arrive until an hour before the game. ... Manager Joe Torre confirmed that RHP Roger Clemens will make his Yankees debut next Monday at Chicago against the White Sox. ... 1B Jason Giambi is expected to get a cortisone shot in his sore left heel in New York on Thursday morning, an off day for the Yankees, and could be ready to return for Friday's game at Boston. ... OF Johnny Damon picked up his 2,000th career hit in the second inning of Wednesday's game, a single to left. ... Rookie RHP Phil Hughes has been diagnosed with a third-degree ankle sprain, which is expected to delay his return by four to six weeks.

TORONTO: The Blue Jays optioned seldom-used RHP Jaime Vermilyea to Triple-A Syracuse and purchased the contract of INF Howie Clark. Vermilyea (0-0) had not pitched since May 10 against Boston. ... Toronto also designated INF Ryan Roberts for assignment. ... 3B Troy Glaus (tight left hamstring) was held out of the lineup and is day-to-day. ... SS Royce Clayton, who fouled a pitch off his left big toe on Tuesday, is day-to-day. Clayton had to have his toenail removed after fouling the pitch off his foot in the seventh inning of Tuesday's game.

DETROIT: LHP Kenny Rogers, who had surgery March 30 to remove a blood clot from his left shoulder, threw off a bullpen mound and took part in an extensive fielding session. ... C Ivan Rodriguez, vying to set a record for catchers with a 12th All-Star selection, leads the the voting for the starting AL catchers' spot. He is hopeful that a group of Tigers will be voted onto the team. ``Right now we're a team that a lot of people come and watch,'' Rodriguez said. ... 3B Brandon Inge will likely miss a few days due to a small chip fracture on his left big toe. He was hit by a pitch Tuesday. ... RHP Roman Colon (neck surgery) made his second rehab appearance, throwing 1 2-3 scoreless innings, Tuesday for Triple A Toledo.

TAMPA BAY: Manager Joe Maddon said no decision on additional changes to the Devil Rays rotation have been made, but a review is ongoing. RHP Jae Seo (3-4, 8.13 ERA) was sent to the bullpen last weekend. LHP Casey Fossum (3-5, 7.89 ERA) might soon be moved out of the rotation. RHP Edwin Jackson (0-6, 7.12 ERA) has also struggled this season in his nine starts.

BALTIMORE: LHP Jamie Walker was passing out cigars and accepting congratulations on the birth of a son. Walker rejoined the team after being in Baltimore for two days to be with his wife, and manager Sam Perlozzo said he would have no hesitation to use him right away. The baby boys name? James Leyland Walker. No, not after Walker's former manager with the Tigers. Both are family names. ... RHP Jaret Wright is expected to get back from the DL when the Tigers are in Anaheim this weekend. OF Nick Markakis was given the day off Wednesday. In his previous eight games, he'd either gone hitless or had multihit games.

KANSAS CITY: The pregame stats for Royals batters listed nine position players on hitless streaks, ranging from Mark Grudzielanek's 0-for-4 to John Buck's 0-for-14. ... Some opposing pitchers have questioned the accuracy of the Kauffman Stadium radar gun that flashes the speed of the pitch onto the scoreboard as it crosses the plate. Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie said Tuesday night the gun ``was on steroids.'' Said Royals manager Buddy Bell on Wednesday, ``I don't pay a lot of attention to the gun. I pay a lot of attention to the finish of the pitch. So if the pitch is finishing like it should, it really doesn't matter if it's 92 or 98 (mph). But now that you mention it, ours might be a little high.''

SEATTLE: The Mariners wrapped up a 10-game, 10-day road trip that began with a makeup game in Cleveland and continued through Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Anaheim. When they return to Seattle, the trip will have covered 6,273 miles. ... RHP Jeff Weaver, on the DL since May 11 because of tendinitis in his shoulder, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Thursday and another simulated game on Sunday to get his pitch count up before he returns to the rotation. Weaver, 0-6 with a 14.62 ERA in six starts with the Mariners, has enough time in the majors to refuse a minor league rehab assignment - so he did just that. ... Edgar Martinez will become the fourth member of the Mariners' Hall of Fame during a pregame ceremony on Saturday at Safeco Field. The others are Alvin Davis, Jay Buhner and broadcaster Dave Niehaus.

LOS ANGELES: RHP Bartolo Colon's next start was pushed back to June 8, when the club opens a nine-game road trip at St. Louis. The 2005 AL Cy Young winner began experiencing tightness in his triceps early this month, and has allowed 15 runs in 10 2-3 innings over his last two starts. He is taking medication for the problem. His regular turn on Sunday against Baltimore will be taken by either Joe Saunders, Dustin Moseley or Hector Carrasco. ... 2B Erick Aybar started at 3B for the first time in the big leagues, after taking ground balls the past few days from coach Alfredo Griffin. Aybar never played the position in the minors. ... LF Garret Anderson played six innings in the first game of his rehab assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, getting an infield hit in three at_bats.

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Notes from Wednesday's NL games
May 30, 2007

ATLANTA: RHP John Smoltz said he felt fine after playing catch before Wednesday's game. He left Tuesday night's game in the fourth inning after re-aggravating a pinkie injury and tweaking his pitching shoulder. He still is scheduled to make his next start, Sunday against the Chicago Cubs. ... LHP Mike Gonzalez will undergo Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery Thursday in Birmingham, Ala., the team said Wednesday. Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery. The team announced last week that Gonzalez would need the surgery, which typically requires a year rehabilitation.

MILWAUKEE: Prince Fielder hit his 18th home run Wednesday, and it was his 12th in May. The 12 homers ties the Brewers record for home runs in any month. Fielder joins Gorman Thomas, Greg Vaughn and Jeromy Burnitz with 12 in a month. ... The Brewers opened the season 24-10 but are 5-14 since. ... The team's 9-3 loss to the Braves Wednesday was only the second time in 27 games the team had lost when leading after seven innings. ... LHP Brian Shouse had stranded 27 of 30 inherited runners before allowing a bases-loaded double to Brian McCann Wednesday that cleared the bases.

SAN DIEGO: OF Brian Giles, who has been on the disabled list since May 20 with a right knee contusion, hit off a tee and played soft toss Tuesday, has been running on the ellipitical machine and was to play catch Wednesday. He is eligible to be activated June 5 but manager Bud Black declined to set a timetable for the veteran's return. ... With Giles unavailable, that has led to regular starts for OF Jose Cruz, Jr., a switch hitter. Generally, that means the Padres have been playing most games without a pure lefthanded hitter on their bench. ``You like to have a nice balance on your bench,'' Black said. ``But it's just not that easy to construct a team to cover everything.'' ... OF Paul McAnulty got his first start of the season Wednesday night.

PITTSBURGH: OF-C Ryan Doumit was in the starting lineup Wednesday for the first time since being struck in the head with a bat twice in one game Friday. He had pinch hit once in that time span. Manager Jim Tracy said he had no reservations about playing Doumit at catcher. ``When we have the day where it really makes sense to put him back behind the plate comes, honestly, we won't be shy,'' Tracy said. ... The Pirates had scored 130 runs in May with two games to play in the month after scoring only 86 in April. The surge is due in some part to a shift in the batting order the past two weeks. OF Chris Duffy was moved from leadoff to second, SS Jack Wilson from second to eighth and 3B Jose Bautista was inserted into the leadoff spot. Tracy said he likes having a veteran in the No. 8 spot and the way Bautista works counts to earn walks.

ARIZONA: 3B Mark Reynolds was back in the starting lineup, a night after suffering what manager Bob Melvin called a ``serious stinger'' from a collision with pitcher Brandon Medders on Michael Bourn's bunt single. Melvin said there were no concerns about a concussion. ... SS Stephen Drew was not in the lineup after he got nailed in the left shin on a hard slide by Chase Utley on Tuesday. Melvin said Drew was banged up, but was available to pinch hit. ... Famous World Series homers collide: Mitch Williams, the former Phillies closer who gave up Joe Carter's series-ending home run in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series, told a dugout security guard before the game to find Arizona coach Kirk Gibson. ``Tell him I want to see what a really old guy looks like,'' Williams said. The guard came back without Gibson, who won Game 1 of the 1988 World Series with a homer off Dennis Eckersley.

PHILADELPHIA:
1B Ryan Howard sat out against LHP Randy Johnson. The reigning NL MVP said he was fine after suffering a cramp a night earlier. ``I'm sure everyone has gotten a cramp some time,'' he said. ... The Phillies entered Wednesday night eight games back of the NL East-leading New York Mets, but that didn't stop manager Charlie Manuel from thinking they could still make a run at the division title. ``Eight can be caught,'' Manuel said. ... Phillies starter Jamie Moyer and Arizona's Randy Johnson was the matchup of oldest lefties in history. ... 2B Chase Utley leads NL second baseman in All-Star voting.

WASHINGTON: The Nationals entered Wednesday's game with the Dodgers having not given up an unearned run in 14 consecutive games...Washington has gone 12-9 since SS Cristian Guzman and OF Nook Logan came off the disabled list on May 7; both players suffered injuries on Opening Day...The Nationals have had nine pitchers make starts this season because four starters have had to go on the disabled list...OF Ryan Langerhans is hitting .151 this season but has a .263 batting average since he came to the Nationals in a trade earlier this month.

LOS ANGELES: SS Rafael Furcal came into Wednesday's game batting .405 in his last 20 games with a 14-game hitting streak...Luis Gonzalez drove in three runs in Tuesday's 10-0 victory over Washington, and that moved him into 75th place on the all-time RBI list with 1,343...2B Jeff Kent's 515 doubles are fourth among active players...Meanwhile, Gonzalez ranks just ahead of him on the same list, sitting in third place with a total of 553 doubles...1B Nomar Garciaparra is hitting .442 this seaosn with runners in scoring position -- second in the National League.

SAN FRANCISCO: OF Barry Bonds was back in the starting lineup. He had four career homers against Mets LHP Tom Glavine entering the game. ... C Bengie Molina singled in the third inning to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. ... SS Omar Vizquel made two slick barehanded plays in the first four innings. ... 2B Ray Durham (strained abdominal muscle) was out of the starting lineup.

NEW YORK: RHP Guillermo Mota was activated after serving the 50th and final day of his suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Mota wound up losing 59 days' pay, or $580,328 of his $1.8 million salary. RHP Ambiorix Burgos was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans to make room for him on the roster. ... The Shea Stadium crowd booed Giants LHP Barry Zito each time he came to the plate. The Mets were interested in signing Zito during the offseason, but dropped out when the free agent wanted a longer contract. ... The Mets were 18-8 in May entering Wednesday night's game against the Giants.

FLORIDA: RHP Kevin Gregg saved each of the first two games of the series after coming in with runners on, including a bases-loaded jam in Tuesday's 9-4 win. Gregg said he prefers to start an inning but has no problem getting his team out of tough spots. ``I always stay ready,'' he said. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he didn't want to use Gregg in both games. ``The bad thing was if that inning had slipped away and we hadn't gotten Gregg in the game, I would have been annoyed with myself,'' Gonzalez said. ... The Marlins had committed a National League-worst 47 errors entering Wednesday's series-finale, and Gonzalez says there's nothing the coaching staff can do about the miscues. ``We have to keep going out there and put them in the positions and keep working with them,'' he said. ``They're not trying to make errors.''

CHICAGO: Players held a lengthy meeting before Wednesday's game, one day after a mistake-filled 9-4 loss that manager Lou Piniella said ``might be our worst game of the year.'' And Piniella had a long session with club executives before the game. ``Everybody's on the same page,'' Piniella said. ``It has been a little bit frustrating. But everybody's on the same page and we just go forward.'' Piniella had bemoaned mistakes on the bases during his pregame session with reporters on Tuesday, then watched Mark DeRosa and Michael Barrett commit two in the second inning. DeRosa got thrown out at third trying to advance from second on a grounder to short. And Barrett got picked off second. ... Barrett was not in the lineup on Wednesday and might not be on Friday when the Cubs play Atlanta. Piniella said he was ``just giving (Barrett) a day off'' on Wednesday. On Friday? He simply wants Blanco to catch Carlos Zambrano again. ``Henry did a nice job with Zambrano last time, so there's a good possibility he might be catching him on Friday,'' Piniella said. ... Aramis Ramirez dropped from fourth to fifth in the lineup, with Cliff Floyd batting cleanup behind Derrek Lee. ``We talked about doing this awhile back,'' Piniella said. ``We'll try it and see what it looks like.''

CINCINNATI:
Juan Castro made his first start of the season at second base, giving Brandon Phillips just his second day off this season. C David Ross also started after missing Tuesday's game with flu-like symptoms. ``Everybody said he was out of his hotel room, walking around,'' said Reds manager Jerry Narron. ``Hopefully, he's well enough to play. If not, we'll change.'' ... CF Norris Hopper was back in the leadoff spot after tying his career high with three hits in Tuesday's 2-1 victory. Hopper got the No. 1 spot in the batting order after he crashed into Ryan Freel on Monday, a collision that put the Reds' regular leadoff man on the 15-day disabled list. Hopper, usually a pinch hitter, has started eight of the last 13 games and is batting .286. ``Hop's done a good job for us,'' Narron said. ... Narron was still mum on who will start Friday's game in Colorado. LHP Bobby Livingston was called up on Monday after RHP Kirk Saarloos was optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Narron said Livingston was the likely starter on Friday if he wasn't used out of the bullpen on Wednesday. Another possibility was RHP Victor Santos, who's made 20 appearances out of the bullpen this season.

HOUSTON: 2B Craig Biggio was back in his regular leadoff spot on Wednesday, rewarded for doubling and scoring a run in Tuesday's 2-1 loss. Biggio, who started the night 27 hits away from 3,000, was dropped to No. 6 in the order on Tuesday. ``He's going to get a couple of hits, he's going to be our spark tonight,'' manager Phil Garner said with mock enthusiasm. ... Garner threw a batting practice on Wednesday, a role usually reserved for third-base coach Doug Mansolino or bullpen assistant Strech Suba. The Astros' offense has sagged lately, but Garner said there was nothing to read into the BP switch. ``I was recruited just to be a strong right arm and no brains,'' Garner joked. ``And I did that job quite well.'' ... Brad Lidge has emerged as one of the bright spots amid the Astros' recent slump. Lidge has an 0.71 ERA with 15 strikeouts in his last 12 2-3 innings of work. He sat out last week with a bruised knee, but came in with the bases loaded and no outs late in Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Cincinnati. Lidge retired the Reds in order, though Adam Dunn knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly. ``Ideally, you wouldn't give up any runs with the bases loaded and nobody out,'' Lidge said, ``but I'm pretty pleased with how the inning went.''

ST. LOUIS: The dizziness that forced OF Scott Spiezio to leave Tuesday's game was not altitude related. ``It was a reaction to medication,'' Spiezio said. ``I've got a rash up and down my arms and I still don't have all my strength back.'' ... INF Chris Duncan's knee showed improvement, but was left behind at the hotel for a second day. ``Doctors want to keep him off his feet and allow him to heal,'' St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty said. ``I was told he couldn't play here, but he could play in Houston.'' ... The right knee of OF Preston Wilson remained swollen. ``He's not making progress,'' MGR Tony La Russa said. ... The number of injuries have left La Russa with few options. ``I could move So Taguchi to second base and have pitchers play the outfield,'' he said.

COLORADO: OF Willy Taveras is expected to be back in the lineup Thursday. He's been out since being struck on the right index finger Monday when he attempted to lay down a bunt. ... The starting pitchers have given up 13 earned runs in 48 2-3 innings over the last seven games. ``There's a tendency to feed off one another a little bit,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. ``That pride of not wanting to let the bar drop.'' ... C Yorvit Torrealba's first homer of the season was a grand slam to left-center field Tuesday night. ``He's not happy with his offense,'' Hurdle said. ``His defensive game has been very, very refreshing.''

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Yankees' Hughes sprains ankle
MLB.com

TORONTO -- Phil Hughes, one of baseball's top pitching prospects, has a Grade 3 sprain of the left ankle that is expected to set the hurler back an additional four to six weeks in his efforts to rejoin the Yankees' Major League roster.

Hughes, a 20-year-old right-hander, rolled his ankle while performing conditioning exercises Friday at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., where he was rehabilitating a strained left hamstring.

The Grade 3 diagnosis is considered the most severe possible strain, in which one or more ligaments are stretched and completely torn. The Yankees made Hughes' results public Wednesday, prior to the club's game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.

Yankees officials had hoped Hughes would return in mid-June. But now with the setback, the hurler won't even throw off a mound until somewhere from late June to early July.

The Yankees' first-round selection in the June 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Hughes made two starts for the Yankees this season, making his Major League debut on April 26 and suffering a loss against Toronto at Yankee Stadium.

Hughes' second start was far more impressive, as Hughes carried a no-hitter through 6 1/3 innings in a May 1 start against the Texas Rangers before feeling a grabbing sensation in the back of his left leg, which was later diagnosed as a Grade 1 strain of his left hamstring.

Hughes was 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in two Major League starts this season, striking out 11 and walking four in 10 2/3 innings. He also made three starts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, going 2-1 with a 3.94 ERA.

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Rockies: Taveras expected to go Thursday

Willy Taveras is expected to be back in the lineup Thursday, the AP reports. He's been out since being struck on the right index finger Monday when he attempted to lay down a bunt.

Pirates: Doumit returns to lineup

Ryan Doumit was in the starting lineup Wednesday for the first time since being struck in the head with a bat twice in one game Friday, the AP reports. Doumit went 0-for-3. Manager Jim Tracy said he had no reservations about playing Doumit at catcher; Doumit got the start in right field Wednesday. "When we have the day where it really makes sense to put him back behind the plate comes, honestly, we won't be shy," Tracy said.

Angels: Colon out until June 8

Bartolo Colon's next start was pushed back to June 8 at St. Louis, the AP reports. Colon began experiencing tightness in his triceps early this month, and has allowed 15 runs in 10 2/3 innings over his last two starts. He is taking medication for the problem. His regular turn on Sunday against Baltimore will be taken by either Joe Saunders, Dustin Moseley or Hector Carrasco.

Blue Jays: Clayton day-to-day (toe)

Royce Clayton, who fouled a pitch off his left big toe on Tuesday, is day-to-day, the AP reports. Clayton had to have his toenail removed after fouling the pitch off his foot in the seventh inning of Tuesday's game.

Blue Jays: Glaus day-to-day with hamstring

Troy Glaus was held out of Wednesday's lineup due to a tight left hamstring, the AP reports. He's considered day-to-day.

Athletics: Sore knee for Ellis

Mark Ellis missed his second straight game Wednesday as he deals with a sore knee, the AP reports.

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Blue Jays activate Halladay from DL
May 31st, 2007

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - The Toronto Blue Jays activated starting pitcher Roy Halladay from the 15-day disabled list, in time to start Thursday against the Chicago White Sox.

The Blue Jays are getting Halladay back sooner than planned as he was originally expected to miss four to six weeks of action after being placed on the disabled list May 11 with acute appendicitis.

The 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner is 4-2 with a 4.37 earned run average in eight starts this year.

Halladay started the season with a perfect 4-0 record with a 2.28 ERA and won the AL Pitcher of the Month Award.

In a corresponding roster move, Toronto optioned pitcher Jesse Litsch to the minors.

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Cardinals LF Chris Duncan has been told to stay off his swollen knee and isn't expected to play until this weekend.

Yankees DH Jason Giambi (foot) is scheduled to receive a cortisone shot Thursday, making him "questionable" for Friday's game.

Tigers 3B Brandon Inge (toe) and SS Carlos Guillen (groin) are not expected to play.

Giants 2B Ray Durham (abdominal) is doubtful.

Blue Jays 3B Troy Glaus (hamstring) is doubtful.

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Giambi out at least 3 weeks
May 31, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -Jason Giambi will be sidelined at least three weeks because of torn tissue in the arch of his left foot.

The New York Yankees designated hitter was examined in New York on Thursday by Dr. William Hamilton. Giambi will be placed on the disabled list before Friday's game at Boston, and his foot will be put in a walking boot.

``He will be re-evaluated in three weeks,'' Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said.

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Braves nearing injury updates on Chipper Jones, Smoltz
May 31, 2007

ATLANTA (AP) -The Atlanta Braves are awaiting updates on injured stars Chipper Jones and John Smoltz before the team opens a weekend series against the Cubs in Chicago on Friday.

The Braves will watch closely as Jones tests his sore right thumb and Smoltz finds out if a sore shoulder and finger hamper his ability to throw.

Jones, a third baseman, has missed seven consecutive games and could be placed on the disabled list on Friday if he can't play.

Smoltz, who said he felt fine after playing catch on Wednesday, may be able to determine if he'll be ready for Sunday's scheduled start against the Cubs when he tries to throw harder in a side session.

Jones and Smoltz lead the Braves in seniority and also are keys to the team's hopes in the NL East. The Braves, who are off Thursday, are four games behind New York entering the Mets' game against San Francisco on Thursday night.

Smoltz, 40, left Tuesday night's game in the fourth inning. He irritated a sore little finger on his pitching hand while batting and then felt discomfort in his right shoulder while warming up on the mound.

Smoltz dislocated the finger on May 14 tagging Washington's Austin Kearns. He bounced back quickly to win his next two starts - going 2-0 with 14 scoreless innings.

The sore right shoulder could be a more serious concern for Smoltz, but he was pleased after his light throwing on Wednesday.

Thursday provided another reminder of the Braves' growing injury concerns. Reliever Mike Gonzalez was to have elbow ligament-replacement surgery Thursday in Birmingham, Ala., a procedure that normally requires a full year for recovery.

Gonzalez, who had a 1.59 ERA with two saves in 17 innings, was the team's top left-handed reliever and joined Rafael Soriano as the top set-up men for closer Bob Wickman.

The Braves felt the loss of Jones when they were outscored 27-13 while being swept in a three-game series by the Philadelphia Phillies last weekend. The Braves recovered to win two of three at Milwaukee, including a 9-3 victory on Wednesday night.

In seven games without Jones, Atlanta's fill-in starters at third base - Martin Prado, Chris Woodward and Pete Orr - have not driven in a run.

Jones is hitting .300 with 12 homers and 27 RBIs. He needs two homers to match Dale Murphy's Atlanta record of 371.

Jones bruised both thumbs in a May 11 collision with Pittsburgh's Jose Bautista, causing him to miss four games. He returned to his starting job at third base but then hurt his right thumb again in a May 22 game.

Jones hasn't played since he had a cortisone shot in his right thumb following a game on May 23.

The Braves have some pitching help coming this week. Right-hander Lance Cormier, who won a spot in the rotation in spring training but went on the disabled list before the start of the season with a strained triceps, is expected to be activated to pitch on Tuesday.

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Rest prescribed for injured Reds OF Ryan Freel
May 31, 2007

CINCINNATI (AP) -Reds outfielder Ryan Freel was examined Thursday by a head and spine specialist, who recommended rest and limited activity as Freel recovers from a collision with another player.

Freel, 31, was playing center field when he collided with right fielder Norris Hopper in the third inning of Monday's 4-0 win over Pittsburgh in Cincinnati. Freel lay motionless for several minutes before he was taken off the field on a stretcher.

He spent the night at Good Samaritan Hospital, where it was determined that he had contusions to the head and neck. He was released Tuesday and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Freel, who is batting .251 with two homers and 12 RBIs, will be examined again next week, the Reds said.

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Indians recall Gutierrez
May 31, 2007

CLEVELAND (AP) -The Cleveland Indians recalled outfielder Franklin Gutierrez from Triple-A Buffalo on Thursday and optioned right-hander Mike Koplove to their affiliate in the International League.

Gutierrez played in four games with the Indians from May 6-19, hitting .200 (1-for-5).

He has scored 29 runs in 30 games at Buffalo this season, batting .341 (44-for-129) with four home runs, 16 RBIs and seven stolen bases.

Koplove appeared in three games after being called up May 23. He allowed two earned runs in four innings for a 4.50 ERA. Earlier this season at Buffalo, Koplove went 2-0 with three saves and a 1.00 ERA in 17 relief appearances in 18 innings.

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Tigers SS Carlos Guillen (groin) is not in the starting lineup; Neifi Perez is starting short.

Tigers 3B Brandon Inge ( toe) is not in the starting lineup; Omar Infante is starting at third.

Giants 1B Ryan Klesko (back) is not in the starting lineup; Rich Aurilia is starting at first.

Giants 2B Ray Durham (abdominal) is not in the starting lineup; Kevin Frandsen is starting at second.

Blue Jays 3B Troy Glaus (hamstring) is in the starting lineup.

Cardinals RF Chris Duncan (knee) has officially been downgraded to out of tonight's game.

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