|Toronto closer B.J. Ryan excels in 1st game in 10 months; Cabrera, Duncan and Gomes suspended|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 14 March 2008 20:01|
New York's Melky Cabrera, Shelley Duncan and Tampa Bay's Jonny Gomes are less likely to take the field on the day the regular season starts.
Pitching for the first time since last April, Ryan struck out two of the three batters he faced during the Toronto Blue Jays' 8-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays Friday.
``It was good,'' the Blue Jays closer said after making a rare spring training start because rain delayed the first pitch and manager John Gibbons wanted to ensure the left-hander made his long-awaited debut.
Meanwhile, the Yankees' Duncan and Cabrera were suspended for three games and Tampa Bay's Gomes was docked two games following the latest dustup this week.
``I sure hope we can put this fire out,'' Gomes said.
The penalties will begin at the start of the regular season, unless they're appealed. All three players were fined, as were Yankees manager Joe Girardi, third-base coach Bobby Meacham and hitting coach Kevin Long.
Major League Baseball imposed the suspensions - rare for exhibitions - and took an even more unusual step: It changed the umpire assignments for a spring training game because of brewing trouble.
Determined to stop the Yankees and Rays from turning Saturday's split-squad rematch into a split-lip affair, veteran crew chief Jerry Crawford was added to the original three-man crew.
``Why should we anticipate something?'' Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. ``So it happens for the next 19 games we play them? No. Why would it linger on? Why would you continue to do it? If something happens, it would be stupid. It gets to a point where it's got to end.''
Girardi wasn't worried, either.
``I'm sure that there will be a warning tomorrow. I'm sure it will be something in the umpire's room,'' he said.
The feud began last Saturday after a Rays prospect plowed into Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, breaking his wrist. On Wednesday, Duncan made a spikes-high slide that led to the benches clearing, and Gomes rushed in from right field to barrel into him.
At St. Petersburg, Fla., the appearance was Ryan's first since April 14 against Detroit. The Blue Jays initially thought he might be sidelined six weeks. But when pain persisted, the reliever had elbow ligament replacement surgery in May.
Before Friday, Ryan had only pitched simulated games and faced minor leaguers in batting practice.
``I kind of went out there anxious and nervous, not really knowing what to expect because it's the first time being back out there, and I didn't want to feel my way around the way like I did in those simulated games,'' he said.
Ryan, who signed a $47 million, five-year contract before the 2006 season, was 0-2 with three saves and a 12.46 ERA in five games in 2007. He was 2-2 with a 1.37 ERA and 38 saves in '06.
The 32-year-old initially felt soreness in his elbow during spring training a year ago. He was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career on April 15, one day after blowing a save opportunity against the Tigers.
It's hard to imagine his spring debut going any better.
``We didn't hold anything back. We moved it around both sides of the plate, threw a couple of good breaking balls and a couple of crummy ones,'' Ryan said. ``But I figured that's what was going to happen.''
The next step is to see how he feels on Saturday.
``We're just going to kind of keep going at the pace we're going right now. Just kind of take it one day at a time and not get too far ahead of myself and try to do too much, too fast,'' Ryan said.
In other spring training games:
Red Sox 7, Orioles 4, 6 1/2 innings
At Fort Myers, Fla., Daisuke Matsuzaka threw 25 of his 53 pitches in the first of his four innings and left after allowing two runs and four hits with two strikeouts and no walks. Manny Ramirez hit a long home run.
Mets 8, Marlins 2
At Jupiter, Fla., John Maine threw five more scoreless innings to extend his streak to 10 innings without allowing a run.
Mariners 9, Rockies 4
At Peoria, Ariz., Ichiro Suzuki hit his first spring home run in five years and Colorado's Franklin Morales gave up nine runs - five earned - and 10 hits in 2 2-3 innings.
Reds (ss) 7, Yankees 7, tie
At Sarasota, Fla., Alex Rodriguez hit his third home run of the spring in the first inning and Phil Hughes allowed four runs and nine hits in 2 2-3 innings.
Athletics 8, White Sox 1
At Tucson, Ariz., Oakland starting pitcher Rich Harden allowed only one hit, a run-scoring single by Alexei Ramirez in five innings.
Cardinals 6, Dodgers 4
At Vero Beach, Fla., Rick Ankiel hit two home runs for St. Louis and Esteban Loaiza gave up a run and three hits in five innings for Los Angeles.
Braves 9, Phillies 1
At Clearwater, Fla., shortstop Yunel Escobar's grand slam capped a six-run second inning.
Angels 6, Cubs 5
At Mesa., Ariz., Ryan Dempster failed to make it out of the second inning, giving up six runs - five earned - after needing just six pitches to get out of the first.
Giants 11, Diamondbacks 6
At Scottsdale, Ariz., Bengie Molina drove in three runs off Arizona ace Brandon Webb, who was tagged for 11 hits and six runs in 4 2-3 innings.
Rangers 10, Royals 8
At Surprise, Ariz., Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton went 2-for-2, raising his batting average to .607. He has reached base in 10 consecutive plate appearances in his past four games, going 9-for-9 with a walk.
Twins 4, Pirates (ss) 1
At Fort Myers, Boof Bonser pitched four scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk, striking out three to lower his spring ERA to 3.00.
Reds (ss) 5, Pirates (ss) 0
At Bradenton, Fla., Josh Fogg pitched five strong innings and combined with four relief pitchers on a six-hitter. Fogg allowed three hits and a walk while striking out three.
Nationals (ss) 8, Indians (ss) 4
At Viera, Fla., Jason Michaels, Ben Francisco and Kelly Shoppach hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning for Cleveland, and Aaron Boone hit a two-run shot for Washington.
Indians (ss) 3, Nationals (ss) 2, 5 1/2 innings
At Winter Haven, Fla., Franklin Gutierrez drove in three runs with a home run and a single and Jake Westbrook pitched four scoreless innings for Cleveland.
Brewers 6, Padres 2
At Peoria, Ariz., San Diego starter Randy Wolf took the loss after allowing three runs - two earned - in four innings, with his brother serving as the home plate umpire.
Claudio Vargas continued to build his case for a spot in the Brewers' rotation. He gave up one run and three hits in five innings, lowering his spring training ERA to 2.40 and earning his third win in four starts.