MLB News and Notes July - 29

MLB News and Notes July - 29

Astros swap Wheeler for D-Rays' Wigginton
July 28, 2007

Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Hoping for more offensive production from their infield, the Houston Astros acquired Ty Wigginton from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Saturday for relief pitcher Dan Wheeler.

Wigginton was hitting .275 with 16 homers and 49 RBIs in 98 games this season. Last year, he had a career-high 24 homers and 79 RBIs.

Since Wigginton isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2009 season, the trade could signal the end of Morgan Ensberg's career in Houston. Ensberg, who's started 52 games at third, is hitting .232 with eight home runs. He's spent his entire seven-year career with Houston and was an All-Star in 2005.

The Astros have also used Mike Lamb and Mark Loretta at third this season. Lamb is a left-handed hitter and Loretta is a utility infielder who's made more starts at shortstop in 2007.

"We are looking forward to refilling some of our position player needs and this gives up a player in Wigginton that can play third base for us for the next several seasons," Houston general manager Tim Purpura said. "He is the kind of player that we like to have on this club. He is a gamer. And he is guy that has power and is a run producer. He can play a couple of positions, although we will use him primarily at third base."

Wigginton batted .321 in June. He's started 30 games at third base, 38 at second, 15 at first and 15 as the Rays' designated hitter.

"You're always surprised when a trade happens," he said. "But at the same time it's a positive because then you know teams are interested in you, and I look forward to being part of the Astros' family."

The acquisition of the 29-year-old Wigginton comes less than a week after Craig Biggio announced he will retire at the end of this season. Wigginton said the Astros haven't told him if he'd succeed Biggio at second base.

"I don't even want to think about it that way," Wigginton said. "I don't think anyone ever replaces Biggio. I don't think I'm the guy to replace him. I'm just a part of their organization now."

Wheeler (1-4, 5.07 ERA) leads the Astros with 11 saves, but has blown four this season. He gave up an RBI double in Tuesday's 7-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the first run he had allowed in nine innings over his last seven appearances.

The 29-year-old Wheeler should give a boost to one of the worst bullpens in baseball. Over its last 30 innings, the Rays' bullpen has given up 44 runs.

"Upgrading our bullpen has been a priority for a long time," Tampa Bay executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "Wigginton has been a tremendous value to this organization on the field and in the clubhouse and obviously, it's bittersweet to lose to Wiggy. But we got a relief pitcher that we feel can pitch important high leverage innings and the back part of the game, where it's especially important with our young starting pitchers."

Since coming to the Astros from the New York Mets in August 2004, Wheeler had developed into the Astros' dependable set-up man for closer Brad Lidge. He moved into the closer's role in April, when Lidge was demoted.

Wheeler had a 2.41 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 159 innings over the previous three seasons.

"All trades hurt in one way or another," Purpura said. "Certainly losing Wheeler, who has been a big piece of our bullpen for a long time, hurts."

The deal was announced minutes after the Astros beat San Diego 3-1.

"Wheeler has been great for us for the last three years," said Roy Oswalt, who earned the win on Sunday. "Since the day he walked in, he has been a good seventh- and eighth-inning guy for us. We are going to miss him for sure."

Wheeler played for Tampa Bay from 1999-2001. He just bought a house in Florida, about 30 minutes from the ballpark. He'll also reunite with former Astros pitching coach Jim Hickey.

"You hear everything flying around. I guess you can't be too surprised," he said. "It's an opportunity to make this team better."

The acquisition of Wheeler is the latest by the Devil Rays as they try to fix a bullpen that has only 19 saves and a 6.68 ERA.

Earlier Saturday, Tampa Bay traded for minor league reliever Brian Shackelford from Cincinnati, and sent down struggling reliever Shawn Camp. On Friday they added reliever Grant Balfour in a trade with the Brewers.

On Monday, they placed Jay Witasick on the 15-day disabled list, sent J.P. Howell to Triple-A Durham and called up Jason Hammel and Juan Salas from Durham.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July - 29

Padres' Young put on DL
July 28th, 2007

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - San Diego Padres starting pitcher Chris Young, the major league leader in ERA, was put on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained left oblique muscle.

Young suffered the injury in Tuesday's 5-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies in the third inning. Young, who is 5-0 over his last 12 starts and hasn't lost since May 12, came out to start the bottom of the third, but after a few warm-up tosses, manager Bud Black decided to cut Young's night short.

Young's mark this season stands at 9-3 with a 1.82 earned run average in 20 starts.

The Padres replaced Young's roster spot by recalling righty Tim Stauffer from Triple-A Portland to start Sunday against Houston.

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Notes from Saturday's AL games
July 28, 2007

OAKLAND: RHP Esteban Loaiza is moving forward in his rehabilitation from injuries to his neck and knee. Loaiza threw on Friday and could see game action as soon as Wednesday. Manager Bob Geren said Loaiza will either throw another simulated game in Oakland on Tuesday, or will go on a rehab start with Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday. Loaiza has not pitched this season. ... RF Travis Buck was a late scratch from Saturday's game with a strained left forearm suffered in batting practice. Mark Kotsay took his place in the lineup. ... RHP Chad Gaudin is winless in his four starts since the All-Star break with a 7.89 ERA. He was 8-3 with a 2.88 ERA in 18 starts before the break. Gaudin threw his first career complete-game on Saturday but lost.

SEATTLE: CF Ichiro Suzuki had an interesting eighth inning on Saturday. During a pitching change, a fan came out of the stands and started talking to Suzuki and LF Raul Ibanez. It took security a minute to realize the man, who was wearing a jersey, was not a player. As security approached, the fan gave Suzuki a hug before laying down on the grass and being handcuffed. ``First I asked him, 'Have you been drinking?' He said 'No.' ... But all drunk people say, 'I'm not drinking,''' Suzuki said. After checking to see that the fan didn't have any weapons, Suzuki played along, ``lightly'' hugging the fan back. ``I started thinking what would be the most fun thing for me to do for the fans.'' ... Suzuki went hitless on Saturday and remained one hit shy of reaching 1,500. ... RHP Mark Lowe made his first appearance since Aug. 19, 2006, missing all of this season recovering from elbow surgery. He faced two batters in the eighth, getting one out and walking the second. ``I was just happy to be out there and get the first one out of the way.''


DETROIT: Jim Leyland's first season as a big league manager was in 1986 at Pittsburgh - Barry Bonds' rookie season with the Pirates. Bonds hit 176 of his 754 career homers during his seven years with Leyland, and averaged 111 RBIs over their last three seasons together (1990-92) to help the Bucs win three straight division titles. Leyland took time to reflect on Saturday. ``I remember when they brought him up from Triple-A, they said they thought they had something special here - or somebody that had a chance to be real special. And you could see that,'' Leyland told The Associated Press. ``He always had something that managers like in a player. He had a real good swagger about him. Some people would interpret it as cocky, but I interpret it as just a positive confidence in himself.'' Leyland said Bonds had ``an inner confidence'' and wasn't afraid of anybody or of failure. ``He knew he was good, and he knew he was going to do good,'' Leyland said. ``Did I know he was going to break Hank Aaron's record? No. You didn't think about that with any player in those days. But he was a star in the making.'' ... Placido Polanco's first-inning single on Saturday gave him a hit in six consecutive plate appearances, after his 5-for-5 effort in the Tigers' 11-6 loss Friday night. ... Magglio Ordonez homered against the Angels, his 16th of the year. He went 1-for-3 and leads the majors with a .354 average.

LOS ANGELES: The Angels placed C Mike Napoli on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring - just seven days after trading backup Jose Molina to the Yankees. Jeff Mathis started behind the plate and Ryan Budde was promoted from Triple-A Salt Lake. ... Budde, who was acquired by Philadelphia last winter in the Rule 5 draft, began this season on the disabled list with a left oblique strain and was returned to the Angels on April 23. He found out about his promotion when Salt Lake manager Brian Harper removed him from Friday night's game while the team was in the field. ``I tried to call my wife Darcy in the stands, and she wouldn't answer her phone. So I called my dad in Oklahoma City and he was pretty excited,'' said Budde, who is in his sixth professional season and turns 28 on Aug. 15. ``My mom thought I was kidding, and I said, 'Why would I kid about something that I worked for all my life?'''


MINNESOTA:
Manager Ron Gardenhire says Tuesday's trade deadline is a distraction to his players. ``We all know what's going on, but we have to get over that,'' he said. ``All people want to talk about is trades. Sometimes it takes away their focus.'' ... Following Friday night's 10-4 loss at Cleveland in which the Twins made two errors, Gardenhire called the performance embarrassing. He didn't change his opinion Saturday. ``We don't miss the ball,'' he said. ``We don't throw the ball all over the place. Sometimes you're going to get blasted, but if you start missing plays, that's not funny.'' ... CF Torii Hunter strained the middle finger on his right hand Friday night, but was in the lineup Saturday. ... 3B Brian Buscher was 2-for-4 in his major league debut Friday. He also made a throwing error and had a hard grounder bounce off his chest for a hit. ``I thought he did fine,'' Gardenhire said. ``He had a couple of hits. He tried to make a backhand play on the error and threw it away. The other one was a hard smash off his chest. There's not much you can do about that.''

CLEVELAND: Left-hander Aaron Fultz, sidelined since June 24 with a strained muscle in his right side, is scheduled to pitch one inning Sunday at Double-A Akron. ``Assuming everything goes OK, he'll probably make another outing in a couple days and then we'll go from there,'' manager Eric Wedge said. In 32 outings before getting hurt, Fultz was 3-1 with a 1.71 ERA. ... OF Kenny Lofton said Saturday he appreciated the ovation he got from fans in his return to the Indians on Friday night after being acquired in a trade from Texas. ``That was a lot of fun and meant a lot to me,'' the 40-year-old said. ``I've always loved playing in Cleveland. I want to win for these fans. They've been good to me.'' ... The Indians' entered play Saturday 15 games better than a year ago at 60-43, their best mark since a similar record in 2001 - the last time they went to postseason play.


TORONTO: 1B Lyle Overbay was back in the lineup after sitting out Friday with flu-like symptoms. ``I saw him when he got here,'' manager John Gibbons said. ``He's feeling better. Got some fluids in him.'' ... RHP A.J. Burnett (shoulder strain) threw three simulated innings Friday and will start a minor league rehab assignment on Wednesday. ... Gibbons had little to say Saturday about the critical comments made by RHP Josh Towers after a 4-3 loss. Towers said on Friday that his teammates and the coaching staff did not consistently show up. ``I was told about them but I have no comment,'' Gibbons said. After some prodding, Gibbons would only say, ``He's very intense. He cares and he competes. A lot of that is what makes him good.''

CHICAGO: 2B Danny Richar made his major league debut on Saturday night for the White Sox. He started and hit ninth in the batting order. Richar was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte before the game, taking the roster spot vacated by Tadahito Iguchi, who was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday. Richar hit .346 in 32 games for Charlotte. He was traded to the White Sox for OF Aaron Cunningham on June 16. Between the two organizations, he hit .305 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs. ``We're going to take a close look at him and see what we have,'' said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. ... Guillen doesn't expect the White Sox to make any moves before the July 31 trade deadline, but admitted he didn't expect to see Iguchi get traded. ``I don't expect any trades, I really don't,'' said Guillen. ... Guillen is unsure if he will put RHP Gavin Floyd in the bullpen or in the starting rotation. He will talk to White Sox general manager Ken Williams to make a decision. In two spot starts for the White Sox, Floyd is 0-1 with a 9.58 ERA. ``Right now, we haven't made that decision yet. Hopefully (Sunday) we can figure out exactly what we want to do with this kid,'' said Guillen.


NEW YORK: Manager Joe Torre is concerned about RHP Scott Proctor, who allowed a home run to Baltimore Kevin Millar in the eighth inning of Friday's game. ``He's got to get his confidence back. This game is all about confidence. We're not going to stop using him,'' Torre said. The manager said he would lean on RHPs Luis Vizcaino and Kyle Farnsworth more in the seventh and eighth innings. ... Torre is looking forward to the possible return this week of RHP Jeff Karstens, who's been on the 60-day disabled list with a broken leg. Karstens allowed no runs and two hits in six innings in a rehab start for Class Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre on Friday.

BALTIMORE: RHP Danys Baez returned Saturday after missing Friday night with the flu. ``He's here. He's a lot better,'' Orioles interim manager Dave Trembley said. ... 3B Melvin Mora, who's been on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left foot, is close to returning. ``It's improved,'' Mora said Saturday. Before he is activated, Mora must first go through a rehab assignment, Trembley said. ... SS Miguel Tejada, who returned on Friday from the disabled list, might be used at DH on Sunday. Tejada doubled in two first-inning runs Saturday, his first hit since his return. ... RHP Chad Bradford recorded his 10th save in 447 major league relief appearances Friday night.


BOSTON: RHP Matt Clement (right shoulder surgery) threw 38 pitches off a bullpen mound. ``He said it was the first time he felt like a pitcher in a long time,'' manager Terry Francona said. Clement said it felt he was not holding anything back during the session. ... 2B Dustin Pedroia (sore ribs) was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game. Both Pedroia and Francona said the infielder will play Sunday. ``He certainly could play,'' Francona said. ``Sometimes it makes sense not to. Just take advantage of one more night.'' ... The Red Sox are reviewing different options for Brendan Donnelly (strained right forearm) after Francona said the right-hander's long toss session Friday was ``so-so.''

TAMPA BAY: RHP Grant Balfour, acquired from Milwaukee Friday night for minor league reliever Seth McClung, was limited to nine minor league rehab appearances last season after undergoing elbow and shoulder surgeries. ``I'm feeling as healthy as I've ever been,'' Balfour said. ``I'm happy to be here. I think it's a great opportunity.'' ... LHP Scott Kazmir, Sunday's scheduled starter, is 5-3 with a 2.76 ERA in 12 career starts against Boston.


TEXAS: SS Hank Young singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to a season-high 11 games. The longest hitting streak of his career is 25 games in 2005. ... 2B Ian Kinsler, who went on the disabled list July 2 with a stress fracture in his left foot, began a rehab assignment on Friday with Triple-A Oklahoma. He went 2-for-5 with an RBI and stolen base against Portland. ... After starting July hitting .140 with no RBIs in his first 12 games, DH Sammy Sosa has hit two home runs in four games. ``I see the same Sosa going up there,'' Rangers manager Ron Washington said. ``He just got over a period of fatigue and got his second wind.'' ... Washington said LHP John Rheinecker, who has made two spot starts this season, would start Wednesday at Cleveland. Rheinecker held Seattle to one unearned run on six hits in seven innings in a start Tuesday in a doubleheader.

KANSAS CITY: RHP Leo Nunez will make his second major league start on Sunday. In his first career start on July 17 at Boston, he went four-plus innings, allowing one run on six hits before being pulled because of a pitch count. Manager Buddy Bell said Nunez's pitch limit would be 85-90 against the Rangers. ``He just needs to throw good low strikes,'' Bell said. ... LHP Odalis Perez faced the Rangers on Saturday for the first time. Texas was the only major league team he had never pitched against. ...RF Mark Teahen, who led the club with 18 home runs in 2006, has not homered since May 29, a span of 47 games. ``Because of his stroke, there might be years he hits 25 and another year 10,'' Bell said. ``He's got a line drove stroke.''

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Re: MLB News and Notes July - 29

Notes from Saturday's NL games
July 28, 2007

WASHINGTON: 1B Dmitri Young has agreed to a two-year contract extension. Young, who turns 34 in October, signed a non-guaranteed, minor league deal in February and was hitting .331 with nine homers and 53 RBIs this season heading into second half of Saturday's doubleheader. ... 1B Nick Johnson is feeling better after getting a cortisone shot for his troublesome right hip earlier this month. Johnson broke his right leg in a collision with right fielder Austin Kearns during a game at Shea Stadium on Sept. 23, 2006, and his hip started bothering him while he was working his way back from the injury. He hasn't played this season. ``It's frustrating not to be able to get out there,'' he said. ``It's been a grind so just keeping pushing forward and when I get out there I get out there.'' ... The doubleheader was the franchise's fourth since moving to Washington and first since Sept. 2. ... RHP Joel Hanrahan became the major league-leading 13th different starting pitcher for the Nationals this season when he made his big league debut in the second game.

NEW YORK: INF Anderson Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans after the first game to make room for RHP Mike Pelfrey, who started the second game of the doubleheader. ... RHP Orlando Hernandez is 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in his last four starts. He has held right-handers to a .153 batting average this season. ... LHP Billy Wagner extended his scoreless streak to 17 innings when he got three outs in the opener to earn his 24th save. He hasn't allowed a run since the Dodgers scored twice against him on June 13. ... Actress Alyssa Milano was at Shea Stadium to promote her clothing line, TOUCH, in conjunction with Major League Baseball Properties. She was born in Brooklyn and went to both Shea and Yankee Stadium when she was growing up. ``I grew up in a house that was about baseball,'' said Milano, now a Dodgers season ticket holder. ``It wasn't about necessarily one particular team. It wouldn't be uncommon for us to watch games at my family's house with teams that weren't from New York.'' ... OF Chip Ambres cleared waivers Friday and accepted an assignment to Triple-A New Orleans. He was designated for assignment Tuesday.


MILWAUKEE: Craig Counsell was 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position and two outs before his RBI double in the second. The Brewers scored all six runs with two outs in the opener. ... Saturday's doubleheader was the 250th in franchise history, including 114 splits. ... RHP Scott Linebrink, acquired from the Padres on Wednesday, threw a scoreless ninth Friday in his first game with the Brewers in a 12-2 blowout over the Cardinals. ``Throwing to a new catcher it's probably good that Johnny (Estrada) saw me one time. That way we're that much more prepared the next time we go in there in a tight situation.''

ST. LOUIS: Manager Tony La Russa said RHP Brad Thompson, who left the game because of a blister on his hand, might have to go on the DL. Thompson's response: No way. ``The blister's not an issue at all,'' he said. ``I came out of the game because I walked two guys in that inning and was probably going to come out anyway.'' ... Seven of the Cardinals' eight losses since the All-Star break have been by four or more runs. They've been outscored 74-20 in the setbacks. ... Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers is the only major league manager without an ejection this season after La Russa got his first in the sixth inning of Game 1. ... RHP Brian Falkenborg, who three scoreless innings after being recalled from the minors earlier in the day, didn't arrive at Busch Stadium until a half-hour before the game.


ATLANTA: The Braves played consecutive extra-inning games for the second time since opening the season with a pair of extra-inning wins at Philadelphia. ... RF Jeff Francoeur's double in the second inning gave him hits in five straight games and 10 of his last 11. ... RHP John Smoltz did not walk a batter for the second time this season. ... The Braves have lost four straight for the first time since a five-game losing streak June 19-24. ... RHP Chad Paronto, who gave up the game-winning single to Conor Jackson, turned 32 on Saturday.

ARIZONA: The Diamondbacks became the first team to post three straight walkoff wins since the Milwaukee Brewers from May 13-17, 2006. Arizona has won three consecutive walkoff games once previously in franchise history, from May 10-12, 1999. ... RHP Doug Davis threw a season-high 122 pitches, 66 for strikes, but walked only three. ... Davis leads the NL with 72 walks in 131 1-3 innings pitched. ... LF Chris Young has homered in three of his last four games and has leadoff home runs in two of his last four. Young has five leadoff homers overall. ... Arizona has not played consecutive extra-inning games since May 29-30, 2003. ... LF Eric Byrnes' third-inning sacrifice fly was the Diamondbacks' major-league leading 45th of the season. ... C Chris Snyder doubled to extend his career-best hitting streak to six games.


SAN DIEGO: The Padres placed RHP Chris Young on the 15-day disabled list and called up Tim Stauffer from Triple-A Portland. Young has a strained oblique muscle and manager Bud Black said he was going to be evaluated on Saturday. ``He's feeling better,'' Black said. ``He's just continuing therapy. He's moving around a little bit better, but not able to really play catch or anything.'' Young's 1.82 ERA leads the NL. ... Black made a smart decision Friday night. He decided that catcher Michael Barrett should serve his one-game suspension with Jake Peavy on the mound. The thinking was that Peavy would probably pitch deep into the game and limit how many substitutions Black would have to make. Peavy allowed one run on four hits in seven innings, as the Padres beat the Astros 9-4. ``We were hoping for Jake to pitch deep into the game and keep us from using our bench, and Jake held up his end of the bargain,'' Black said. ``And we scored some runs, so it worked out and didn't require a whole lot of moves.''

HOUSTON:
RHP Brandon Backe threw three innings against live batters on Saturday, the next step on his road back from Tommy John surgery. Backe will make the first of six scheduled rehab starts for Double-A Corpus Christi on Thursday. Backe had surgery last September on his throwing elbow and doctors said Backe would need 12-18 months to fully recover. Manager Phil Garner expects Backe to rejoin the Astros by Sept. 1, though his first start would come later. ``That's actually probably ahead of where I thought he might've been,'' Garner said. ... RHP Roy Oswalt matched his season high with 10 strikeouts in Saturday's victory. It was the 10th time Oswalt has recorded at least 10 strikeouts. He also earned his 10th win on Saturday. ... 3B Ty Wigginton, acquired in a trade for reliever Dan Wheeler, has a career .094 average (3-for-32) at Minute Maid Park.


PITTSBURGH:
RHP John Van Benschoten was sent to Triple-A Indianapolis a day after his latest poor outing. Van Benschoten, a former first-round pick, was 0-5 with a 9.76 ERA in seven starts this year. Tony Armas Jr. will take his spot in the rotation. ... The Pirates have allowed nine runs in the first inning in the last five games. ... Freddy Sanchez tied his career-high with six homers when he connected in the third inning. He has five homers in his last 17 games.

PHILADELPHIA:
All-Star CF Aaron Rowand was out of the lineup for the second straight game after tweaking his shoulder playing tag with neighborhood kids Thursday. Rowand said he was fine to play, but manager Charlie Manuel wanted to give him an extra day off. ... Chase Utley was back with the team after having surgery on his broken right ring finger Friday. ... Kyle Kendrick (4-1) takes the mound Sunday. He pitched at least six innings in his first six outings, but hasn't gone past the sixth in his last two.


CHICAGO: RHP Kerry Wood's appearances in back-to-back minor-league games Thursday and Friday had manager Lou Piniella hoping the right-hander is close to being ready to fortify what Piniella describes as a bullpen that's developing leaks. ``August and September are 'experience' months, especially for pitchers,'' Piniella said. ``If he's on track, I don't see any reason why we can't get him here sooner rather than later.'' ... RF Matt Murton was scratched from the Cubs' original starting lineup so that Cliff Floyd could play Saturday night and get Sunday off. ... Matt Belisle, Sunday's starter, will be the 11th consecutive right-handed starter faced by the Cubs.

CINCINNATI:
RHP Aaron Harang left Saturday's start against Chicago after one inning with lower back stiffness. ... David Weathers's fifth blown save of the season on Friday was enough evidence for manager Pete Mackanin, who planned to give the closer the day off Saturday. Weathers pitched in four of the previous five games, and he's worked more than one inning in a major league-leading 10 of his saves. ``We've been in so many close games, it's been hard to give him a day off,'' Mackanin said. ... RF Ken Griffey Jr. also got Saturday off. ``He'll play (Sunday) and we have Monday off, so that will be a nice rest,'' Mackanin said. ``We need to keep him strong the rest of the year.'' ... The Reds acquired infielder Jorge Cantu, outfielder Shaun Cumberland and cash from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for right-hander Calvin Medlock, left-hander Brian Shackelford and future considerations on Saturday.


LOS ANGELES: RHP Derek Lowe had his scheduled bullpen session pushed back to Sunday. ``Friday's rainout gave us the flexibility to give him another day of rest for his (left hip),'' manager Grady Little said. ``He still hasn't been ruled out for his next start on Tuesday.'' ... RHP Brad Penny (abdominal cramp) will throw a bullpen session Sunday. ``It will be short,'' Little said. ``We want to test the abdomen.'' ... Penny wasn't happy about his lack of RBIs as a hitter. ``I'm hitting .293 and have six RBIs,'' Penny said. ``The guys ahead of me haven't been getting on base.'' ... C Russell Martin was given the day off Saturday and will have another day off Monday. ``Two days off will do Martin good,'' Little said.

COLORADO:
Manager Clint Hurdle took advantage of Friday night's rainout by watching a movie at home with his son. ... Hurdle set his rotation for later in the week, going with RHP Aaron Cook on Tuesday against Florida and RHP Josh Fogg on Wednesday. ... LHP Brian Fuentes said his back wasn't strained and that the injury was his left lat muscle. ... Hurdle had no update on the conditions of Fuentes and RHP Rodrigo Lopez (forearm strain). Lopez showed up at the park Saturday wearing a black sleeve on his arm. Both pitchers were scheduled to throw on the grass later in the evening.


FLORIDA: C Matt Treanor said the Marlins have bigger worries than Barry Bonds' home run chase with a five-game losing streak coming into Saturday. ``To me it's a sidebar kind of thing. We're in a little bit of a rut. We've lost our last five. For me, I'm looking to win a ballgame. I'm not really looking to walk Barry Bonds or give him a cupcake so he can get on to the road to glory or whatever they have going on. I'm looking just to help our pitchers through the game,'' Treanor said. ... LHP Dontrelle Willis struck out Barry Bonds in the first inning for the 700th strikeout of Willis' career.

SAN FRANCISCO: Lost in Friday night's win was Mark Sweeney's pinch-hit RBI single in the sixth inning. It was Sweeney's 151st career pinch hit, moving him past Manny Mota and into sole possession of second place on the all-time list behind Lenny Harris with 212. ``It's incredible,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ``That's a lot of pinch hits. It means you had a great career. It's not an easy job. It could be one of the toughest things in baseball to be a great pinch hitter.'' ... Backup C Eliezer Alfonzo, on the 60-day DL recovering from left knee surgery, is scheduled to go to Arizona after Sunday's game and start catching some light bullpen sessions in the middle of the week and doing some designated hitting, probably Wednesday or Thursday. Once he's ready to catch in a game - probably after next weekend - Alfonzo will report to Triple-A Fresno. He is eligible to be activated Aug. 8 and should be close to reaching that schedule, trainer Dave Groeschner said.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July - 29

Lo Duca leaves game with hamstring injury
Sat, Jul 28, 2007
By Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Paul Lo Duca left the New York Mets' game against the Washington Nationals on Saturday night with an injured right hamstring.

The All-Star catcher was rounding second after Lastings Milledge's seventh-inning single when he grabbed his leg. Manager Willie Randolph, third base coach Sandy Alomar Sr., and a trainer all came out to check on Lo Duca, who tried to walk it off before deciding to depart.

Orlando Hernandez, the winner in the first game of Saturday's day-night doubleheader, came in to run for Lo Duca. Ramon Castro replaced him behind the plate in the eighth.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July - 29

Report: Canseco gives Mitchell names
July 29, 2007

Sporting News report

Jose Canseco has met with has met with George J. Mitchell, the former senator who is leading baseball's investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs, Canseco's lawyer said Saturday.

According to the report from The New York Times, Robert O. Saunooke, Canseco's lawyer, said Canseco provided Mitchell with greater details about which individuals knew about the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The report also says that, in an interview with a Boston radio station on Friday, Canseco said he had "other stuff on Alex Rodriguez that will be coming out" in a book he is shopping to publishers.

Canseco admitted to using steroids in his 2005 book "Juiced," in which he also named other major league players such as Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro.

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Astros designate Ensberg for assignment
July 29, 2007

HOUSTON (AP) -One day after acquiring Ty Wigginton in a trade with Tampa Bay, the Houston Astros designated struggling third baseman Morgan Ensberg for assignment on Sunday.

Houston also recalled left-hander Mark McLemore on Sunday to fill the roster spot vacated when reliever Dan Wheeler was sent to the Devil Rays in Saturday's trade.

The 31-year-old Ensberg was hitting .232 with eight homers and 31 RBIs in 85 games. That was far off the pace from his All-Star season in 2005, when he hit .283 with 36 homers and 101 RBIs and helped Houston reach its only World Series.

Ensberg was never the same after tearing a tendon in his right shoulder diving for a foul ball on June 9, 2006. He spent a month on the disabled list, then came back in August and finished the season with a career-low .235 average and only 58 RBIs.

Houston is responsible for the remainder of Ensberg's $4.35 million salary this season.

The 29-year-old Wigginton was in the starting lineup for the Astros for Sunday's game against San Diego. Wigginton was hitting .275 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs in 98 games for Tampa Bay this season.

McLemore made his major league debut on May 24, pitching a scoreless inning against Arizona. He was sent back to Triple-A Round Rock on July 13, when closer Brad Lidge came off the disabled list.

Houston manager Phil Garner said Chad Qualls will take over Wheeler's role as the late-inning setup man.

Wheeler was 1-4 with a 5.07 ERA this season. The previous three seasons, Wheeler had a 2.41 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 159 innings.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July - 29

Astros designate Ensberg for assignment
July 29, 2007

HOUSTON (AP) -One day after acquiring Ty Wigginton in a trade with Tampa Bay, the Houston Astros designated struggling third baseman Morgan Ensberg for assignment on Sunday.

Houston also recalled left-hander Mark McLemore on Sunday to fill the roster spot vacated when reliever Dan Wheeler was sent to the Devil Rays in Saturday's trade.

The 31-year-old Ensberg was hitting .232 with eight homers and 31 RBIs in 85 games. That was far off the pace from his All-Star season in 2005, when he hit .283 with 36 homers and 101 RBIs and helped Houston reach its only World Series.

Ensberg was never the same after tearing a tendon in his right shoulder diving for a foul ball on June 9, 2006. He spent a month on the disabled list, then came back in August and finished the season with a career-low .235 average and only 58 RBIs.

Houston is responsible for the remainder of Ensberg's $4.35 million salary this season.

The 29-year-old Wigginton was in the starting lineup for the Astros for Sunday's game against San Diego. Wigginton was hitting .275 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs in 98 games for Tampa Bay this season.

McLemore made his major league debut on May 24, pitching a scoreless inning against Arizona. He was sent back to Triple-A Round Rock on July 13, when closer Brad Lidge came off the disabled list.

Houston manager Phil Garner said Chad Qualls will take over Wheeler's role as the late-inning setup man.

Wheeler was 1-4 with a 5.07 ERA this season. The previous three seasons, Wheeler had a 2.41 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 159 innings.

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