MLB News and Notes July - 4

MLB News and Notes July - 4

Giants activate Aurilia from disabled list
July 3, 2007

CINCINNATI (AP) -Rich Aurilia got healthy just in time to face his old team.

The San Francisco Giants activated the infielder from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, in time for the opener of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. Aurilia spent the past two seasons with the Reds before re-signing with San Francisco last winter.

``I'm excited to see my buddies and come back here and play,'' Aurilia said.

He had been sidelined since June 18 with a sore neck - receiving two acupuncture treatments last week before a two-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Fresno in Las Vegas. The Giants optioned outfielder Nate Schierholtz to Fresno after Sunday's game to clear roster room for the 35-year-old Aurilia.

``I feel good,'' Aurilia said. ``It went well in Vegas and I had no pain and no headaches. It was 115 degrees on Sunday, so my legs were a little beat up. I will keep the range of motion (in the neck) and keep it loose. Hopefully, I'm done with it now.''

Also Tuesday, the Giants placed reliever Vinnie Chulk on the bereavement list and recalled left-hander Pat Misch from Fresno. The addition of Misch gave the Giants four lefties in the bullpen. He grew up in Northbrook, Ill., some five hours from Cincinnati - so his parents and two sisters were planning to be at Tuesday's game.

Chulk traveled to Florida to be alongside his ailing father, who underwent heart surgery Tuesday. The Giants expect him back by the weekend.

``He needs to be there right now,'' San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said.

Aurilia was batting .236 with two home runs and 19 RBIs in 52 games. While Ryan Klesko got the start at first base Tuesday, Bochy planned to start Aurilia on Wednesday afternoon at either first or third.

``He's got the type of swing I don't think it will take him long,'' Bochy said. ``I know he's comfortable in this ballpark.''

Aurilia wasn't offended about not playing the series opener against the Reds. San Francisco blanked Arizona in the rubber game Sunday 13-0, and Bochy went with the same lineup.

``We scored 13 the other day,'' Aurilia said. ``You may as well throw those guys back out there.''

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Phils' Lieber to have season-ending foot surgery
July 3, 2007

HOUSTON (AP) -Philadelphia Phillies' pitcher Jon Lieber will undergo season-ending surgery on Friday to repair a ruptured tendon in his left foot.

The 37-year-old right-hander suffered the injury on June 20 while backing up home plate on a play in Cleveland. He went on the disabled list three days later.

Lieber was 3-6 with a 4.73 ERA in 12 starts this season. He was the Phillies' opening-day starter in 2005 and '06, but will become a free agent after this season.

``He pitched some good baseball for us,'' said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. ``If things had been a little bit different, he could've pitched better. He had the talent.''

Lieber will have the surgery at the Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, the team said.

Lieber went 20-6 with the Chicago Cubs in 2001, but he's had only two winning records since - in 2004 with the New York Yankees (14-8) and 2005 with the Phillies (17-13).

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Freel returns to Reds a month after concussion
July 3, 2007

CINCINNATI (AP) -Outfielder Ryan Freel rejoined the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, five weeks after he sustained a severe concussion from one of the scariest moments in the majors this season.
   
Freel was activated off the disabled list and reinstalled as leadoff hitter for interim manager Pete Mackanin's first game. Catcher Chad Moeller was designated for assignment to open a roster spot.

The 31-year-old Freel ran into outfielder Norris Hopper while catching a fly ball on May 28 and had to be taken off the field at Great American Ball Park in an ambulance. A severe concussion prevented him from working out until June 15.

``For the most part, I feel a lot better now,'' Freel said. ``Hopefully I can do what I've done best - getting on base or doing something to create some kind of havoc out there.''

Freel's all-out style will be tested when he gets back on the field after the most serious accident of his career.

When he went to Triple-A Louisville on a rehabilitation assignment, he toned down his play by sliding more conservatively at times.

``For the most part, I played hard,'' Freel said. ``I didn't have any chances to dive for any balls in the outfield. I stole a couple of bases, dove headfirst. I did some feet-first sliding, too, on a couple ones that I normally don't do.

``I don't know. I guess I probably thought about it a little bit and didn't want to get tagged on the head, so I did slide feet-first. If anything, it felt a little awkward.''

He's going to get plenty of chances to stir things up.

Mackanin, who took over after Jerry Narron was fired on Sunday night, likes Freel's style and wants to see as much of it as he can.

``He's got a lot of energy,'' Mackanin said. ``I think we need a lot of energy. I want to try to use him as much as I can and keep him as healthy as I can.''

Freel was hitting only .251 with two homers and eight steals when he got hurt. He was happy to hear Mackanin's plans.

``It's nice to be thought about,'' he said.

Moeller, one of three catchers on the roster, hit .170 with one homer in 29 games, including nine starts.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July - 4

Baseball Today - July 4
By Associated Press


Cleveland at Detroit (7:05 p.m. EDT).

Jake Westbrook and Kenny Rogers square off in a matchup of the top two teams in the AL Central.

STARS

Tuesday

-Brad Wilkerson, Rangers, hit three homers and had six RBIs to help Texas beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-3.

-Joe Blanton, Athletics, threw a four-hitter for his AL-leading third complete game and Oakland beat Toronto 3-1.

-Javier Vazquez, White Sox, gave up four hits in his 21st career complete game to lead the Chicago White Sox past Baltimore 5-1.

-Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox, allowed four hits in eight scoreless innings and struck out nine and Boston defeated Tampa Bay 4-1.

-Chien-Ming Wang, Yankees, pitched four-hit ball for seven innings to lead the New York Yankees past Minnesota 8-0.

-Casey Blake, Indians, hit a go-ahead home run in the 11th inning to lift Cleveland over Detroit 5-4.

-Billy Butler, Royals, homered and drove in six runs in Kansas City's 17-3 rout of Seattle.

CHASING AARON

Barry Bonds hit homer No. 751 in his first at-bat Tuesday night, a two-run shot that moved him within four of tying Hank Aaron's record during San Francisco's 7-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Bonds' latest came in the city where Aaron hit No. 714 on opening day 1974, tying Babe Ruth's previous mark. That record-book homer landed at Riverfront Stadium, which was demolished in 2002.

TRIPLE THREAT

Brad Wilkerson hit three home runs to lead Texas past the Los Angeles Angels 8-3 on Tuesday. He is the first AL player with a three-homer game this season. Alfonso Soriano of the Chicago Cubs and Carlos Lee of Houston have three-homer games in the NL.

A-ROD A-OK

Alex Rodriguez played third base for the New York Yankees on Tuesday, one night after leaving the game with a strained left hamstring. The two-time MVP went 0-for-4 with a strikeout but looked comfortable in the field. Rodriquez was pulled after the sixth inning in the Yankees' 8-0 victory over the Twins.

ROMP

Seattle's Ryan Feierabend allowed 10 runs in just 1 1-3 innings in his seventh major league start and Kansas City pounded the Mariners 17-3 on Tuesday. The 17 runs and 16 hits tied the Royals' season highs. It was the most runs the Mariners have allowed all year.

STREAKS

Boston topped Tampa Bay 4-1 on Tuesday to deal the Devil Rays their ninth straight loss. ... Milwaukee lost 6-2 to Pittsburgh, but Kevin Mench hit a home run for the Brewers, who have now homered in 12 consecutive games... Cleveland topped Detroit 5-4 in 11 innings to win their sixth straight.

SNAPPED

Julio Lugo hit a two-run single in the second inning of Boston's 4-1 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday to snap an 0-for-33 skid - the longest for a Red Sox player since 1991. Lugo also singled in the seventh and was the only batter on either team with more than one hit.

SPEAKING

''It's all about New York. New York is center stage and the place everyone is aware of and watches.'' - Rockies second baseman Kaz Matsui, on his team's success against the two New York teams. Colorado beat the Mets 11-3 on Tuesday to improve to 5-0 against the Mets and Yankees this season. The former Met Matsui had a career-best five hits in the win.

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Notes from Tuesday's AL games
July 3, 2007

TAMPA BAY: The Devil Rays play 18 of their final 81 games against each Boston. ... The Devil Rays reinstated RHP Juan Salas from the restricted list after serving a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug testing program. ... RHP Tim Corcoran (right elbow strain) was transferred to the 60-day DL. ... 3B Akinori Iwamura, who was 2-for-8 against Daisuke Matsuzaka in Japan, struck out in his first two at_bats against him on Tuesday.

BOSTON: OF Coco Crisp returned from a four-game absence with a sprained left thumb. ... Kevin Youkilis was back in the lineup after missing one game with a sore left quadriceps. ... Hideki Okajima led the early balloting to be the final player on the AL roster at the July 10 All-Star game in San Francisco. Voting continues until Thursday.


DETROIT: C Ivan Rodriguez caught the 2000th game of his career Tuesday, becoming just the fourth catcher in major league history to reach that mark. Barring injury, Rodriguez should pass Gary Carter (2,056) for third place on the all-time list before the end of the season. ... RHP Joel Zumaya, who has been disabled since May 3 after dislocating a tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand, will start playing catch after the All-Star break. His success with that will determine the next steps in his rehabilitation schedule. ... CF Curtis Granderson needs one stolen base this week to become just the seventh player since 1957 to reach double figures in doubles, triples, homers and steals before the All-Star break.

CLEVELAND: The Indians won their 50th game of the season Monday, over a month faster than they accomplished the same mark in 2006. Cleveland improved to 50-32 with a weekend sweep of Tampa Bay, a year after winning on August 11 to improve to 50-64. ... Tuesday is the 60th anniversary of the Indians signing Larry Doby. Two days later, Doby broke the American League's color barrier when he made his Cleveland debut at Chicago. ... Paul Byrd made his first start of July Tuesday after not issuing a single unintentional walk in May or June. ... Grady Sizemore and Casey Blake started Monday's game with back-to-back singles, which might not have been a surprise. The two hits raised the duo's career batting average against Nate Robertson to .400 (10-for-25).


MINNESOTA: SS Jason Bartlett was 16-for-16 on stolen-base attempts this season until he was thrown out by Yankees C Jorge Posada in the fourth inning. ... Two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana goes for his 10th win of the season when he starts Wednesday. Santana is 2-0 with a 2.67 ERA against the Yankees in his career. ... Injured OF Rondell White (strained right calf) played seven innings Monday night at Class-A Fort Myers and was slated to play nine on Tuesday. ``Everything went good,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``Just keep playing. Play game after game, get in game shape and get some swings, see what happens.'' White has been out since April 5.

NEW YORK: SS Derek Jeter, who normally bats second, was in the No. 3 hole for the second consecutive game. He hit an RBI groundout in the first inning and singled in the third. ``I think he's pretty much oblivious to where he hits,'' manager Joe Torre said. ``He plays the same no matter what position he bats in.'' CF Melky Cabrera batted second again. ``He just seems to give us energy. And he's been swinging the bat well,'' Torre said. ... Hideki Matsui lined out to center and grounded out his first two times up, leaving him 1-for-17 on the homestand and in a 5-for-43 slump overall. Torre said it appears Matsui has been trying to pull the ball too much, and the outfielder agreed when the two spoke recently in Baltimore. Torre added that he probably should have talked to the ``low-maintenance'' Matsui more often the past few years, but the left fielder has been ``so automatic'' that he overlooks him sometimes.


SEATTLE: John McLaren chose Gary Thurman as his first base coach. Thurman is in his ninth season in the organization and had been outfield/baserunning coordinator. He replaces Mike Goff, who moved to bench coach. ... 1B Richie Sexson will be out at least a few days after bruising his left thumb Monday. McLaren said there was no thought now of putting him on the DL. ``We're not going to make a hurried decision. We'll just see if he starts recuperating in a hurry,'' McLaren said. ... RHP Jon Huber, out since June 9 with right forearm strain, threw on Tuesday and felt good. A decision will be made regarding him on Wednesday, McLaren said.

KANSAS CITY: DH Mike Sweeney will not be activated before the All-Star break, manager Buddy Bell said. Out since June 19 with right knee inflammation, Sweeney had hoped to return on Friday. But 2B Mark Grudzielanek is still a possibility to rejoin the lineup before the break. ... Mike Moustakas, the power-hitting shortstop KC drafted overall No. 2 in the June draft, was chosen high school player of the year by Baseball America. Moustakas hit a California state high school record 24 home runs and batted .577 for Chatsworth High in the Los Angeles area. A Scott Boras client, Moustakas has not agreed to a contract.


BALTIMORE: LHP Garrett Olson will be called up from Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday and make his first major league start in place of the injured RHP Steve Trachsel. Interim manager Dave Trembley said the club considered promoting Olson, who is 7-6 with a 3.46 ERA at Norfolk, earlier. ``We feel he deserved a chance,'' Trembley said. ``He's coming off some real good outings.'' The Orioles will announce a corresponding move before the game. ... 3B Melvin Mora was out of the starting lineup for a second straight game with a bruise on the instep of his left foot. Mora took batting practice and fielded some ground balls before Tuesday's game. Trembley said he could have started Mora but didn't want to rush his recovery. Trembley added that he hoped to have Mora back in the lineup Wednesday. ... RHP Scott Williamson said his bruised left foot felt better before heading out for a bullpen session.

CHICAGO: OF Scott Podsednik went on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday because of a strained left ribcage muscle, leaving the team without its leadoff hitter. The injury occurred Sunday while batting in the first inning at Kansas City, and it came less than two weeks after Podsednik returned from a two-month stint on the DL with a strained adductor muscle. Chicago recalled OF Jerry Owens from Triple-A Charlotte. ... Manager Ozzie Guillen remains at a loss to explain the bullpen's struggles. The Orioles scored five runs in the final two innings Monday - including two against closer Bobby Jenks - to rally for a 7-6 win. That meltdown spoiled a fine start by Mark Buehrle and left the bullpen with a 5.60 ERA and 14 blown saves in 37 chances. ``You look at the names, what they did in the past, you feel pretty comfortable with the bullpen,'' Guillen said. ``But what they've done this year, everything went backward. We thought we could do a lot better. You see over a period of time how good they can be. All of a sudden, you're seeing the other side - how bad they can be.'' ... Guillen is leaning toward starting RHP Nick Masset in the second game of Friday's day-night doubleheader with Minnesota.


LOS ANGELES: Manager Mike Scioscia said the prognosis on C Mike Napoli's sprained left ankle is better than anticipated. Scioscia said the injury ``is more of a contusion and low ankle sprain than a high sprain, so it might not be as long as it could have been.'' Napoli was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday. Napoli will be in a walking boot for a week to promote healing. ... OF Garret Anderson, activated on Monday from his second stint on the DL this season, was the DH on Tuesday night. Scioscia said Anderson will also see action in LF. ``We're not going to see him in the outfield every day,'' Scioscia said. ``Hopefully he'll be able to get enough at_bats to get some continuity and consistency in his swing.''

TEXAS: 1B Mark Teixeira could begin a minor league rehab assignment as soon as this weekend and expects to return to the lineup soon after the All-Star break. Out with a strained left quadriceps since June 9, Teixeira has been taking batting practice and will begin taking ground balls in a few days. ``I feel great right now,'' he said. ``If it was up to me, I'd go out and play today. In a week I'll be ready to go.''. ...Manager Ron Washington doesn't want to overuse RHP Eric Gagne, who saved back-to-back games over the weekend in Boston. ``I'm not going to run him out there four days in a row,'' Washington said. ``A lot will have to do with his workload. If he gets three outs in nine or 10 pitches, he'll go out there the next day, and then gets another save in six or seven pitches, I'll use him again. But if he has to use 25 pitches, that's different.''. ...Washington said that with Ian Kinsler on the DL, Jerry Hairston Jr. will take over the 2B job on Wednesday night until Kinsler returns. Kinsler could be out for from two to six weeks. Hairston didn't start Tuesday night because of a sore left knee.


TORONTO: RHP Josh Towers feels he's just about back to full strength as a starting pitcher. Towers has made five starts since being moved back into the starting rotation. He spent all of May and part of June in the bullpen, making six appearances. ``I was the long guy and it was hard to stay sharp with the starters doing so well,'' Towers said. ``It's hard on the body to go from the bullpen to starting. I tried to throw a bullpen session every two days but when you don't see action, you lose some of your pitches. I lost my slider. I told them I'm about two starts away from my body really understanding starting again.'' Towers won his second straight start on Monday night, something he regards as a positive development, even though he allowed four runs in five innings. ``I just felt good,'' he said. ``That's a good sign that I'm close to where I want to be.'' ... OF Alex Rios batted third for just the fourth time this season. He entered play batting .167 (2-for-12) with a home run in that spot. Rios is hitting .283 as a leadoff hitter.

OAKLAND:
RHP Rich Harden could be close to returning to the starting rotation. He was scheduled to play catch and a determination was to be made afterward. He has not allowed a run in three relief appearances covering four innings since coming off the disabled list on June 21. ... OF Bobby Kielty (strained left calf) is hitting .364 in eight games in his rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento. ``He's building himself up to nine innings,'' manager Bob Geren said. ``When he does that we'll make a decision.'' ... RHP Esteban Loiaza played catch for the first time in a month. ``It's the first day of his return,'' Geren said. ... RHP Kiko Calero (right shoulder inflammation) also played catch and could return sometime around the All-Star break. ... RHP Huston Street (right ulnar nerve irritation) took a day off from his throwing program. He could return to action as soon as July 20, when the A's open a three-game home series against the Baltimore Orioles. ... C-DH Mike Piazza (sprained right shoulder) caught a bullpen session on Monday and has been improving in his attempt to be game ready. He has yet to catch a game this season. ``He's having better success getting his arm slot,'' Geren said. ``He's coming along.'' ... OF Chris Snelling was scheduled for arthoscopic surgery by Dr. Stephen Lombardo on his injured left knee.

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Notes from Tuesday's NL games
July 3, 2007

MILWAUKEE: C Damian Miller wasn't in the lineup Tuesday afternoon against the Pirates despite his two-homer, seven-RBI game Monday that included his sixth grand slam. Miller, the backup to Johnny Estrada, didn't expect to play. He said, ``Nah, let the kids play. I'm having success playing once or twice a week.'' ... Milwaukee is 23-13 against the NL Central but 18-22 overall on the road. ... Because it came in the final inning of a 10-3 victory, CF Bill Hall's exceptional catch of Jack Wilson's drive into the right-center gap in the ninth inning Monday wasn't a big factor in the win. But it was one of the best plays at PNC Park this season, if only because of the amount of ground Hall had to cover before stretching out to make the catch.

PITTSBURGH: Despite beating the Brewers 6-2 Tuesday, the Pirates (18-23) still aren't close to .500 at home. They are 18-24 on the road. ... Of the eight starting pitchers the Pirates have used this season, six came up through their farm system - including Shane Youman, who got his first career win on Tuesday. Youman was 0-2 in three late-season starts last season, but did pitch seven shutout innings against Cincinnati in the final game of the season. ... All-Star infielder Freddy Sanchez was 0-for-12 until he singled Tuesday to start a three-run sixth. ... While Milwaukee was committing four errors, the Pirates played their ninth consecutive errorless game.


CHICAGO: 3B Aramis Ramirez was given the day off despite a seven-game hitting streak in which he's hitting .414 (12-for-29). ... Chicago scored a run in the first inning. It was the 66th run they scored in the first - by far the most in any inning. ... Entering Tuesday's game, RHP Michael Wuertz has stranded all 18 of his inherited runners this season. ... C Rob Bowen did not start. He's in an 0-for-17 slump. ...The Cubs have won 115 games on July 4 - more than any other date.

WASHINGTON: Dmitri Young was the only National named to the All-Star team, and it's his second trip. Young didn't get in the game the first time he made it in 2003 ... Tim Redding became the 10th Washington starting pitcher when he started Tuesday's game; tying the Nationals with Philadelphia for the most in the National League. ... Matt Chico will start Wednesday afternoon. He hasn't won in his past eight starts.


SAN FRANCISCO: The series opener featured two players with 1,336 homers between them: Barry Bonds at 751 (after his first-inning shot off Aaron Harang) and Ken Griffey Jr. at 585. It was the highest total for two players in the same game since Aug. 1, 1976, when Cleveland's Frank Robinson (586) faced Milwaukee's Hank Aaron (755), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... The top combined-homer came on July 17, 1973, when Willie Mays - Bonds' godfather - played against Aaron. They had a combined 1,356. ... Omar Vizquel played in his 2,500th game at shortstop. Only two others have played that many in the majors: Luis Aparicio (2,583) and Ozzie Smith (2,511). ... The Giants activated INF Rich Aurilia off the DL, placed RH Vinnie Chulk on the bereavement list and called up LH Pat Misch from Triple-A Fresno.

CINCINNATI:
LHP Eddie Guardado played catch and reported no problems with his forearm. He had to end a rehab assignment because of stiffness in the forearm last week. Guardado is trying to come back from reconstructive elbow surgery on Sept. 8. ``I'm still ahead of schedule,'' Guardado said. ``I think I'm pretty good, still. You don't want setbacks but if they're going to happen, let them happen now.'' ... LHP Mike Stanton, out with a pulled hamstring, threw off the mound. He plans to make a rehab appearance for Class-A Dayton on Wednesday, then return to the roster. ``I told them only one rehab start,'' Stanton said with a smile.


PHILADELPHIA:
RF Shane Victorino was back in the lineup on Tuesday after a Superman-style dive into the seats in the seventh inning of Monday's 7-5 loss. ``I'm glad I got up and I feel good today,'' he said. Victorino couldn't make the catch and said after the game he hurt his ribs. ``Dude, I don't know what I was thinking,'' he said. ``Stupid - that's my new nickname.'' ... OF Aaron Rowand was out of the starting lineup on Tuesday with a bruised right thumb. Manager Charlie Manuel said Rowand, one of Philadelphia's three All-Stars, was questionable for Wednesday's series finale in Houston, depending on how the minor injury responds to treatment. ``We'll see how it goes,'' Manuel said. ... RHP Jon Lieber will undergo season-ending surgery on Friday to repair a ruptured tendon in his left foot. Lieber got injured on June 20. The 37-year-old right-hander was 3-6 with a 4.73 ERA in 12 starts this season. He was the Phillies' opening day starter in 2005 and '06. ``He pitched some good baseball for us,'' Manuel said. ``If things had been a little bit different, he could've pitched better. He had the talent.''

HOUSTON:
RHP Brad Lidge said his strained left oblique muscle felt fine after he threw 28 pitches off the mound on Monday. Now, Lidge said his right knee is hurting and that will delay his return until after the All-Star break. Lidge has been on the disabled list since June 16 with the strained oblique. He had a bone bruise in the knee in May, but said the latest flareup was nothing serious. ``It's not really a big problem,'' Lidge said. ``For whatever reason, it kind of acted up on me again. It's a little frustrating because I was trying to get back before the break.'' ... SS Mark Loretta and 3B Mike Lamb were both in the starting lineup Tuesday. Both have been keys to the Astros' recent offensive surge, with each hitting near .400 through the first five games of Houston's 11-game homestand. ``We'll continue to use that combination as long as they continue to swing the bats like that,'' Houston manager Phil Garner said.


ARIZONA: Orlando Hudson was batting second for the first time this season, the major move in manager Bob Melvin's promised lineup shakeup for his struggling offense. The Diamondbacks entered the game batting .106 (6-for-57) with runners in scoring position the previous eight games. ``Offensively we needed a little bit of a change,'' Melvin said. ... Eric Byrnes, who had been hitting leadoff, was moved to third. ... Melvin recalled having nearly a .450 batting average against Randy Johnson in about 40 at_bats. ``I was one of the few guys. If I sat for two weeks and didn't play when Randy Johnson came to town I was in the lineup,'' Melvin said. ``It's not like I hit 12 bombs, it was a little single over there and a little single over there. Not a lot of damage.''

ST. LOUIS: SS David Eckstein had three cortisone injections for his back on Monday and will not be activated until after the All-Star break. The team had been hopeful of Eckstein returning on Monday, but he had soreness after a strenuous workout a day earlier. ``There's no need to rush him back,'' manager Tony La Russa said. ... La Russa juggled his lineup after learning Randy Johnson had been placed on the 15-day disabled list, starting 2B Adam Kennedy and LH Chris Duncan, both left-handed hitters, in place of Brendan Ryan and Ryan Ludwick. ... Scott Spiezio may have to go on the DL after the infected index finger on his left hand failed to improve overnight. Spiezio, who hasn't played since June 26 and was hospitalized for a few days last week, had been optimistic on Monday that the finger was close to recovery. ... RHP Chris Carpenter's numbers were unimpressive in his first rehab start for Class-A Palm Beach on Tuesday: five runs, three earned on five hits in 1 1-3 innings. Carpenter, who underwent surgery on May 8 to remove bone spurs from his elbow, could rejoin the rotation after the All-Star break. ... LHP Mark Mulder threw in the bullpen before batting practice, the latest step in his rehab from shoulder surgery last September, although there's no timetable for his return.


NEW YORK: RHP Pedro Martinez threw a 50-pitch, three-inning simulated game on Tuesday. ``It is a step in the right direction,'' manager Willie Randolph said. ``The schedule for the next move is pending.'' ... LHP Oliver Perez (strained lower back) was sent back to New York and will fly to the team's training center in Port St. Lucie, Fla., while he's on the disabled list. ... Several Mets coaches went on a morning fishing trip west of Denver. Howard Johnson had the most success, landing three, 2-pound rainbow trout. ... RHP Jorge Sosa received treatment on his strained left hamstring.

COLORADO: Matt Holliday's three-run home run Monday night extended his hitting streak at Coors Field to 22 games ... RHP Matt Herges was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs to replace LHP Jason Hirsh, who sprained his right ankle on the bases Monday. Hirsh was placed on the 15-day DL. .. LHP Jeremy Affeldt has plenty of fond July 4 memories. The reliever grew up on various military bases across the country. ``It was great. They'd always have big productions on the Air Force bases. It was a really big thing,'' Affeldt said.


FLORIDA: SS Hanley Ramirez, who tweaked his left hamstring while doubling in the third inning of Monday's game was on the bench last night, but was available for pinch-hitting duty. ``He's available to pinch-hit, the trainer told me,'' Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ``He's going to take batting practice and take all the pre-game workouts and everything drills and we'll shoot for tomorrow. Gonzalez described the injury as ``a discomfort.'' ``It's not a strain and not a pull. And if I don't have to use him, it's even better for tomorrow. Ramirez, the 2006 NL Rookie of the Year, has played in 80 of the Marlins past 83 games.

SAN DIEGO: Right-handed reliever Doug Brocail will report to Single-A Lake Elsinore Tuesday to begin a rehab assignment. Brocail has been on the disabled list since June 21 with a left guttural strain. Brocail was 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA in 29 games. ... Manager Bud Black would not rule out newest Padre Milton Bradley from playing before the All-Star game. Bradley, who was acquired in a deal with the Oakland A's, has been on the DL since June 21. ``He'll continue the treatment of getting better and we really don't know what's going to happen. As we get closer to the weekend, we'll have a better idea''... Padres No. 1 draft pick Nick Schmidt (23rd pick overall) was introduced to the media after working out in the bullpen. The 6-foot-5 left-hander from the University of Arkansas was 11-3 with a 2.69 ERA and broke the school record for strikeouts in 2007 finishing his career with 345. ``I think we were all impressed by Nick,'' Black said. ``We liked his delivery, we liked his arm action. His fastball and change had nice movement. I think there's some deception in there.''


ATLANTA: CF Andruw Jones, mired in the worst slump of his career, entered Tuesday hitting just .199 with a .297 on-base percentage and 83 strikeouts - just 44 fewer than he had last season in 669 plate appearances. On Sunday, he snapped an 0-for-24 skid. ``To me, he's got the same approach he's always had,'' manager Bobby Cox said. ``He's always had some parts of the season where he's looked like this - although not as long - but hitting .200 hasn't changed Andruw one bit. He's our biggest cheerleader in the dugout, and he's still the best center fielder in baseball. At the end of the year he's going to have 100 ribbies and 30 homers, and hopefully he'll have his average higher.'' ... RHP Tyler Yates, who allowed one earned run over 10 2-3 innings during June, allowed three earned runs in one-third of an inning during his first appearance of July - giving up hits to three of the four batters he faced in Monday night's 8-2 loss to the Dodgers.

LOS ANGELES: Backup C Mike Lieberthal started for the ninth time this season and first time since June 24 at Tampa Bay, when Brendan Harris kicked the ball out of his glove on an attempted tag play in the Dodgers' 9-4 loss. They came in 1-7 when Lieberthal starts. When he arrived at his locker on Tuesday, there were 30 balloons hanging from it - along with a floral arrangement and a card that read: ``Congratulations on your start - It's been a long time.'' LF Luis Gonzalez and reserve INF Olmedo Saenz collaborated on the prank. ``It's just my teammates showing the love, showing the support,'' said Lieberthal, who took the ribbing in stride. ... Manager Grady Little said he isn't giving up on RHP Brett Tomko, who has been struggling lately out of the bullpen with a 5.89 ERA. He was converted back to reliever on May 26 after being moved out of the starting rotation. ``We need him to step it up and get him back to where he needs to be,'' Little said. ``His confidence level is down a little bit, but we need the guy, so we'll keep running him out there.''

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Re: MLB News and Notes July - 4

Giants place P Sanchez on DL
July 4th, 2007

Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - The San Francisco Giants placed pitcher Jonathan Sanchez on the 15-day disabled list with a strained rib cage.

The move is retroactive to June 25.

Sanchez is 1-1 with a 3.96 earned run average in 22 games for the Giants this season.

To replace Sanchez on the roster, San Francisco purchased the contract of pitcher Scott Atchison from Triple-A Fresno.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July - 4

Bonds held out of starting lineup to rest sore legs
July 4, 2007

CINCINNATI (AP) -A day after hitting his 751st home run, Barry Bonds was held out of San Francisco's starting lineup Wednesday to rest his sore legs.

The Giants played on a toasty Midwest afternoon in the middle contest of their three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. That came on the heels of a night game Tuesday, when Bonds moved within four homers of tying Hank Aaron's record with a two-run shot in the first inning off Aaron Harang. Thursday's series finale is a night game, giving Bonds adequate time to recover.

San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy had said Bonds might play all three games in Great American Ball Park if the slugger felt fine, but the two chatted Wednesday morning and Bonds reported that his legs were bothering him.

``I'm alive,'' Bonds said, getting ready at his locker before heading out to the field to see Ken Griffey Jr., whose three children were taking batting practice with other Reds' kids.

When asked if it was his decision to sit out, Bonds said curtly, ``Does it matter?''

Bochy and Bonds are trying to avoid further problems that could cause Bonds to miss more time. He sat out two games at Arizona last month with shin splints. As long as the seven-time NL MVP feels OK, Bochy said he likely would play the final four games of the club's road trip - including a three-game weekend series in St. Louis.

Bonds, who was available to pinch hit Wednesday, is set to start in left field for the National League in the All-Star game next Tuesday in San Francisco - meaning that getting much rest during the All-Star break won't happen.

``I talked to Barry quite a while here,'' Bochy said. ``It's general soreness. He talked about doing something to get ready. I said, 'Let's give you a day today.' With the travel, a night game to day game, I'd rather give him a day to get fresh for the rest of the road trip. ... We'll see how it goes. If he feels good, he'll play the rest of them.''

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Re: MLB News and Notes July - 4

Devil Rays place Reyes on 15-day DL
July 4th, 2007

St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Devil Rays placed closer Al Reyes on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a strained right rotator cuff.

The 27-year-old righty has converted 17-of-18 save chances this season. He is 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA in 34 appearances.

In a related move, the Devil Rays recalled lefthanded pitcher Jon Switzer from Triple-A Durham. He has a 2-2 record with a 5.32 ERA in 47 career big league games.

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Sweeney to have arthroscopic surgery on knee
July 4, 2007

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -Mike Sweeney, who had hoped to get back in the Kansas City Royals' lineup this week, will have arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Thursday.
   
Sweeney, hitting .245 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs, has been dogged by injury since signing a $55 million contract five years ago. A vigorous offseason yoga program has kept him free of the back problems that had been plaguing him.

He went on the disabled list June 19 with right knee inflammation. The surgery will be performed by team physician Dr. Steven Joyce.

``We just don't know how long he might be out,'' said manager Buddy Bell.

Sweeney's tough luck could be a lucky break for 21-year-old rookie Billy Butler, who was called up from Triple-A Omaha to be the designated hitter in Sweeney's absence. Butler, who homered and doubled and drove in six runs on Monday, was slated to return to the minors when Sweeney returned.

``I think he's got a lot to learn about his swing,'' Bell said. ``He's got a lot to learn about the game in general. But I think he's also a kid who can learn up here. I don't think he necessarily needs to go back to Omaha. The problem is that if Mike's healthy, there's a good chance we might have to send him back.

``But we don't have to deal with that right now cause Mike's not healthy.''

Bell had said that putting Butler back in the minors would be a painful decision. A converted outfielder, he's also trying to learn to play first base.

``The way this kid is offensively, I don't think you're going to see that big of a jump (in progress). I think it's going to be more gradual,'' Bell said. ``He's pretty accomplished for a young kid, in terms of his discipline at the plate, how he understands the game. I'm not saying he's even close to what he's going to be. But he's got a pretty good feel.''

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Re: MLB News and Notes July - 4

Mets promote Alomar Jr., demote Vargas
July 4, 2007

DENVER (AP) -The New York Mets purchased the contract of catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. from Triple-A New Orleans on Wednesday and sent left-hander Jason Vargas to the minors.

Alomar was hitting .323 with four home runs and 29 RBIs in 38 games with New Orleans.

``We wanted to get an extra guy here in case we could use him as a pinch hitter,'' Mets manager Willie Randolph said. ``He's a veteran presence, a veteran bat that can help us out and win a ballgame.''

The Mets also shipped Vargas to New Orleans. Vargas took the loss Tuesday, giving up nine runs and 11 hits over 3 1-3 innings in a spot start after left-hander Oliver Perez was placed on the disabled list.

To make room for Alomar on the 40-man roster, the Mets transferred right-handed reliever Duaner Sanchez from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.

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BoSox enter into strategic alliance with Japanese team
July 4th, 2007

Boston, MA (Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox announced that the team has entered into a strategic alliance with the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball.

The three-year alliance, which extends through 2010, was announced at a Wednesday afternoon press conference in Chiba, Japan.

"This is an historic day for the Boston Red Sox," team president Larry Lucchino said. "This alliance is part of the continuing effort of this organization to expand its influence from both a baseball and business perspective into Japan and the Pacific Rim."

The partnership between the Marines and Red Sox will result in a collaboration of scouting information, statistical analysis, and other aspects that will assist the Red Sox organization in its evaluation of players in Japan and other Pacific Rim countries.

"The international scouting initiatives of the Red Sox are a vital component in our ability to compete at the major league level," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein.

The 2007 Red Sox feature two veterans of Nippon Professional Baseball in pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima.

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