Even before the start of spring training games, Brad Lidge and Mark DeRosa left the field with health concerns.
Lidge hurt his surgically repaired right knee Saturday when he caught a spike in the mound on his first pitch of batting practice. The Philadelphia Phillies' new closer limped away after talking with team trainers, and the club hoped to know more about the injury Sunday.
``It was my push-off leg,'' Lidge said in Clearwater, Fla. ``I threw the pitch but it felt like I pulled something in the knee.''
Doctors removed torn cartilage from the knee in October.
``It swelled up a little, but I'm optimistic that I just pulled some scar tissue loose,'' Lidge said.
Philadelphia's biggest offseason addition, the right-hander was acquired from Houston in a November trade and penciled in as the Phillies' new closer. That allowed them to strengthen their rotation by making Brett Myers a starter again.
DeRosa, the Chicago Cubs' second baseman, was taken to a hospital with an irregular heartbeat before being released Saturday evening. He began to have a problem while taking grounders, shortstop Ryan Theriot said.
DeRosa, who turns 33 on Tuesday, was sitting up on a stretcher as he was wheeled out of the Fitch Park complex around midday. Some of his teammates were still on the field winding up a day of workouts in Mesa, Ariz.
``Mark's doing fine,'' manager Lou Piniella said shortly after practice. ``He came in with a rapid heartbeat from doing the things on the field and was having a little trouble breathing, so they called in the medical team.
``He's completely stable, but better be safe than sorry. With the irregular heartbeat and so forth, they sent him to the hospital to test him and evaluate him. But he's fine.''
Piniella said DeRosa had experienced irregular heartbeats before.
``I talked to him. He was a little nervous and outside of that he's OK,'' Piniella said.
A team spokesman said DeRosa felt faint but never lost consciousness.
``It wasn't any one particular thing,'' Theriot said. ``It started to speed up on him, and I think he started to get a little worried.
``He was fine through the whole thing. I think it was just one of those deals. He was more scared than anything.''
At Peoria, Ariz., Brian Giles passed a big test when he did some cutting on the basepaths in San Diego's practice. The right fielder is attempting to come back from offseason microfracture surgery on his right knee.
``Everything is going good,'' Giles said. ``I'm going through full workouts. No setbacks so far since the surgery and that is a good sign.''
The Padres hope the 37-year-old Giles can start playing by the third full week of spring training games.
``He's getting the reps in the cage and all the fundamental stuff done,'' manager Bud Black said. ``He may not be doing every drill the outfielders do, but he is progressing to a point where he should be in games by the middle of March and that will give him enough game conditions to hopefully be ready by opening day.''
At Tucson, Ariz., the NL champion Colorado Rockies took the field together for the first time since getting swept by Boston in the World Series.
``There's good days at the ballpark and there's great days, and this is always a great day,'' manager Clint Hurdle said after a three-hour workout that began with last year's top draft pick, reliever Casey Weathers, donning a fake beard and cowboy hat to sing Charlie Daniels' ``Drinkin' My Baby Goodbye.''
Hundreds of fans milled around, in stark contrast to a year ago when the Rockies opened camp in relative anonymity.
``They still have a lot to prove, I think,'' owner Charlie Monfort said. ``Let's face it, we didn't finish the job.''
At Tampa, Fla., Andy Pettitte threw 55 pitches in an indoor cage after rain wiped out his first scheduled batting practice session of the spring.
The New York Yankees' left-hander had a difficult offseason. He was implicated in the Mitchell Report and later admitted using human growth hormone in 2002 and 2004. He also gave a deposition and affidavit about buddy Roger Clemens to a congressional committee looking into drug use in baseball.
The Yankees granted Pettitte's request to report four days late to spring training. His first day in camp Monday included a 35-pitch bullpen session and a 55 1/2-minute news conference.
``This is extremely good to be doing this, no doubt,'' Pettitte said. ``Just everything else was such an unnormal lifestyle. Like I've said a hundred times, everybody has just made me feel so comfortable. The team, the guys, the organization. It's been great to be back.''
At Port St. Lucie, Fla., Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax visited New York Mets camp and offered some pointers to closer Billy Wagner.
``I wanted just to talk to him,'' Wagner said. ``I've known Sandy off and on for 12 years. He's probably about the only lefty I can go to and say, 'Hey, what am I doing?' and kind of have somebody I feel kind of connects with me.''
The 36-year-old Wagner went 2-2 with 34 saves and a 2.63 ERA last year. He's trying to maintain his status as an elite reliever.
``If somebody wants to get better and they think I can help them, then it's a pleasure,'' Koufax said. ``I don't do it unless someone asks. If I help them, great. If I don't, I tell them, 'This is an experiment. If it doesn't work for you, forget it. It has to work. You have to be comfortable.' I don't have all the answers.''
Koufax and Mets owner Fred Wilpon were high school teammates growing up in Brooklyn.
At Tucson, Chicago White Sox third baseman Joe Crede expects to be available for the spring training opener Wednesday against Colorado despite a sore hand.
Crede took batting practice for the first time since he was hit on the left hand Thursday by a pitch from teammate Mike MacDougal. The hand swelled up considerably, but Crede said X-rays were negative.
Crede is competing with Josh Fields for the starting third base job.
The White Sox were still waiting on the arrival of second baseman Danny Richar, their last remaining roster player not in camp. Richar was having visa trouble in the Dominican Republic. The delay has put him behind in the competition for the starting second base job against Juan Uribe, Pablo Ozuna and Alexei Ramirez.
``When he shows up he better be ready to play and compete,'' manager Ozzie Guillen said.
At Tucson, outfielder Trot Nixon reported to Diamondbacks camp after agreeing to a minor league deal the day before. Arizona views him as a possible insurance policy if Chad Tracy hasn't recovered from microfracture surgery by opening day.
Asked if this was his best opportunity to play, Nixon said, ``I don't know about best - it was the only opportunity I had.''
In other news, Manny Ramirez switched agents and is now represented by Scott Boras, known as one of the game's toughest negotiators.
Ramirez, entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, became the seventh player on Boston's probable 25-man roster to be represented by Boras. The slugger had been represented by Greg Genske.
The Red Sox have options on Ramirez's contract in 2009 and 2010 at $20 million per season. If the team doesn't pick up the option, he can become a free agent, making his agent's role more significant.
Boston general manager Theo Epstein confirmed the switch.

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