|Busy day for closers: Brad Lidge to start season on DL, Kerry Wood gets new job with Cubs|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 24 March 2008 16:45|
Brad Lidge and B.J. Ryan will miss the start of the season, however, adding to a long list of key players burdened by injuries during the final week of spring training.
The NL Central champion Cubs made Wood their closer on Monday and picked Jason Marquis as the team's No. 5 starter.
As a rookie 10 years ago, Wood tied a major league record in his fifth start by striking out 20 batters in a game against Houston. Converted to a reliever last season to preserve his troublesome right arm and shoulder, the oft-injured Wood entered spring training in a three-way competition after the Cubs moved former closer Ryan Dempster to the rotation.
Manager Lou Piniella chose Wood over Bob Howry and Carlos Marmol because he values durability in his setup men and thinks closing will put less stress on the right-hander's arm. It didn't hurt that his fastball has been clocked in the high 90s, either.
``It's going to be something new, but that's exciting for me,'' Wood said. ``I'm looking forward to it.''
Nathan is staying with Minnesota rather than following Johan Santana, Torii Hunter and Carlos Silva out of town.
A two-time All-Star, Nathan and the Twins agreed to terms on a $47 million, four-year contract, a deal that includes a 2012 club option on the 33-year-old right-hander.
The Twins weren't going to get rid of their reliable closer, not after deciding to deal Santana and watching Hunter and Silva depart as free agents during the offseason.
``It was definitely a priority for us,'' assistant general manager Rob Antony said. ``I think a lot of people thought, when it became clear we were going to trade Johan Santana, that Joe was next. That wasn't the case at all. We look at Joe as a key member of the core of this ballclub. We had to take care of some other things first ... but when the time was right we did it. And it was well worth it.''
Lidge, the Phillies' new closer, will start the season on the 15-day disabled list while he rehabilitates his knee following arthroscopic surgery last month.
Tom Gordon will fill in at closer for the 31-year-old Lidge, who is eligible to come off the DL on April 5.
``It's not what I wanted,'' he said in Clearwater, Fla. ``I was trying to get ready as fast as possible and unfortunately in the end my arm strength is behind. I was trying basically to cram four weeks of spring training into a little over a week.''
The Toronto Blue Jays will be without Ryan and third baseman Scott Rolen when the season starts.
Ryan, who had 38 saves and a 1.37 ERA for Toronto in 2006, is still recovering from elbow surgery and isn't expected back until at least mid-April. Rolen had surgery on his broken finger Monday and will be out two weeks or more.
Both will stay behind in Florida when the Blue Jays break camp this week and head north. They open the season next Monday at Yankee Stadium.
Ryan made two appearances this spring. After the second one, against Pittsburgh on March 17, he felt some soreness in his elbow, slowing his return.
The left-hander threw in the bullpen Monday.
``The best-case scenario is the middle of April. As he continues to make strides I don't want to put a date on it because I think that is unfair to the player and us,'' general manager J.P. Ricciardi said.
At Winter Haven, Fla., Atlanta pitcher John Smoltz decided not to test his sore right shoulder, opting to postpone a throwing session that could determine whether he opens the season on the disabled list.
Smoltz remained at the team's complex in Kissimmee while the Braves played the Cleveland Indians.
``Probably tomorrow, for sure,'' Smoltz said when asked Monday morning about his plans to throw.
Smoltz missed his scheduled start Friday because of tightness in the back of the shoulder.
Smoltz and manager Bobby Cox say they don't believe the discomfort is a serious concern. Smoltz said Friday he would have pitched with the tightness in a regular-season game.
At Tampa, Fla., Andy Pettitte made 47 throws on level ground, two days after the New York Yankees' left-hander was scratched from a scheduled start due to lower back spasms.
``I feel better,'' Pettitte said. ``I felt good enough to go out there and throw.''
Pettitte threw for five minutes on a back field with pitching coaching Dave Eiland.
``It's still tight,'' Pettitte said. ``There's still a little pull back there when I try to get out over my front side. So we'll see how I feel tomorrow.''
Pettitte could throw off a mound Wednesday or Thursday. He currently is slated to make his first regular-season start April 2 against Toronto, but he might be pushed back.
The Yankees aren't planning to put Pettitte on the disabled list.
At Tempe, Ariz., Los Angeles Angels outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. sprained his right ankle against San Diego and is day-to-day.
At Scottsdale, Ariz., San Francisco Giants utility infielder Kevin Frandsen ruptured his left Achilles' tendon in a minor league game and could miss the entire season.
In other news, pitcher John Patterson agreed to a minor league contract with Texas, four days after he was released by the Washington Nationals.
In spring training games:
Mets 1, Orioles 0
At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., John Maine allowed only Nick Markakis' single over six shutout innings for New York, combining with two relievers on a two-hitter.
Houston 10, Marlins 10, 10 innings
At Jupiter, Fla., Cameron Maybin will start the season in the minors for Florida.
One of baseball's top prospects and a centerpiece of the trade that sent Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera to Detroit in December, the 20-year-old Maybin was optioned to Double-A Carolina. He went hitless in his final 18 at-bats, finishing the spring with a .190 average, three homers and eight RBIs.
Tigers 5, Nationals 3
At Viera, Fla., Paul Lo Duca went 2-for-3 with an RBI double for Washington. Tigers starter Nate Robertson allowed one run in 5 1-3 innings.
Indians 8, Braves 0
At Winter Haven, Fla., Jake Westbrook pitched six perfect innings, striking out eight for Cleveland. He extended his scoreless streak to 14 innings over four spring starts. He has allowed only five hits while striking out 16.
The Indians also picked Cliff Lee to be their No. 5 starter and decided to part ways with left-handed reliever Aaron Fultz.
Rays 13, Pirates 4
At St. Petersburg, Fla., Edwin Jackson threw seven strong innings, allowing seven hits and only two first-inning runs for Tampa Bay. Carlos Pena hit a three-run shot, his fourth homer this spring.
Cardinals 8, Twins 4
At Fort Myers, Fla., Carlos Gomez, who won Minnesota's center-field job, went 1-for-5 with an infield single. He also struck out three times and was caught stealing.
Diamondbacks 6, Giants 5
At Tucson, Ariz., Micah Owings gave up four runs, including two homers, in 5 1-3 innings for the Diamondbacks. He is 0-2 with a 9.77 ERA. Conor Jackson homered for Arizona.
Padres 4, Angels 4, 10 innings
At Tempe, Ariz., San Diego left-hander Randy Wolf pitched six scoreless innings. Ervin Santana allowed three runs in seven innings for Los Angeles.
Rockies 6, Brewers 5
At Phoenix, Colorado starter Ubaldo Jimenez allowed 10 hits and five runs in four innings. Chris Iannetta went 3-for-3 with a double, a home run and two RBIs.
Cubs 7, Rangers 6
At Mesa, Ariz., Mark DeRosa hit a three-run homer and Eric Patterson singled home the winning run in the ninth inning for Chicago.
Mariners 3, White Sox 1
At Peoria, Ariz., Jarrod Washburn tossed seven shutout innings for Seattle and Ichiro Suzuki went 2-for-3 with a double and two stolen bases.
Reds 5, Blue Jays 3
At Sarasota, Fla., touted prospect Homer Bailey failed to last five innings in a start that could go a long way in deciding his immediate future with Cincinnati. Bailey walked six in 4 1-3 innings, throwing only 42 strikes out of 84 pitches. Adam Dunn and Joey Votto homered for the Reds off Shaun Marcum.