KANSAS CITY: The Royals are regarded as the worst team in what is perhaps baseball's best division, but Detroit pitcher Jeremy Bonderman said it's foolish to take them lightly. ``They're a better team than a lot of people give them credit for,'' he said. ... John Buck hit .533 with two homers on the 10-game road trip, and the 6-foot-3, 220-pound catcher is batting .440 overall this season. ``He's a big guy and he's getting after it like a big guy,'' manager Buddy Bell said. ``He worked very hard over the winter, and it is paying off.''
DETROIT: SS Carlos Guillen received a letter from Major League Baseball, threatening to fine him $1,000 for having his pockets pulled out on the backside of his pants. Guillen said he plans to stop the superstitious habit of pulling out a pocket, usually the left one. ``They are going to take my money. I'm not stupid,'' he said. ``But I don't understand because I've been doing this for three years. Why don't they worry about Magglio's (Ordonez) hair?'' ... RHP Joel Zumaya pitched a perfect eighth and has retired 14 straight batters over four games, but manager Jim Leyland bristled when a reporter asked if he considered keeping him in the game instead of using closer Todd Jones. ``That's not a good question,'' Leyland said. ``Jones is our closer.'' Jones blew his first save in eight opportunities.
Orioles-Devil Rays
BALTIMORE: C Ramon Hernandez (strained left oblique) might need a short minor league rehab assignment before being activated from the DL. He resumed taking batting practice Tuesday. ``He just feels it a little bit,'' manager Sam Perlozzo said. ... OF Jay Payton (strained left hamstring) could rejoin the team Friday, but Perlozzo said he might not be inserted into the lineup immediately. ... RHP Paul Shuey (foot) pitched a perfect inning in his first appearance for Double-A Bowie on Tuesday. He was injured during spring training. ... OF Jon Knott, who hit a three-run, pinch-hit homer in his first at-bat with the Orioles on Tuesday, started in left and went 2-for-3. He has six hits in nine at-bats against Tampa Bay, and is 0-for-12 against everyone else.
TAMPA BAY: With a flu bug bothering the Devil Rays, third base coach Tom Foley jokingly wore a surgical mask over his mouth and nose during early pregame drills. Several players and coaches have flulike symptoms, an on-going problem for the team the past couple of weeks. ... LHP Scott Kazmir struck out Brian Roberts in the first to become the 23rd left-handed pitcher to reach 400 strikeouts before age 24 in the last 50 years.
LOS ANGELES: OF Vladimir Guerrero and INF Howie Kendrick returned to Los Angeles to see a hand specialist. Guerrero was hit on his right wrist by a pitch Monday and Kendrick was plunked on the top of his left hand Tuesday. ... RHP Bartolo Colon (recovery from torn right rotator cuff) will make his season debut on Saturday against the Mariners in Seattle. ... RHP John Lackey allowed three runs in the first five innings, matching the total of his previous 31 innings against the A's.
OAKLAND: OF Milton Bradley, recovering from a strained left hamstring, is hoping to return to the lineup in Texas on Friday night. He's missed six games. ... RHP Joe Blanton brings a four-game winning streak against the Rangers into his Friday start. ... RHP Huston Street has four saves this year, all against the Los Angeles Angels. He is 2-0 with nine saves and a 1.47 ERA in 19 career appearances against them.
CLEVELAND: Manager Eric Wedge wants to see how LHP Cliff Lee comes through Saturday's rehab start for Triple-A Buffalo before deciding whether Lee needs a second minor league outing. Lee strained an abdominal muscle early in spring training. ... Kelly Shoppach started at catcher in place of Victor Martinez, who returned Tuesday after being sidelined since April 6 with a strained left quadriceps. ``You can't play him three days in a row coming back anyway, much less with a day game coming,'' Wedge said. ``It's just not smart to push it right off the bat.'' ... Casey Blake started at 3B instead of Andy Marte (.194). ``He's going to be fine,'' Wedge said. ``He just needs to relax and keep playing. He'll figure it out.''
on the offer.
Red Sox-Blue Jays
BOSTON: LHP Jon Lester, who spent the offseason undergoing chemotherapy after he was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma last season, will make one more start for Class-A Greenville on Friday before coming to Boston to throw a side session Sunday. After that, he'll likely make his next start for Triple-A Pawtucket next Wednesday or Thursday. ... RHP Julian Tavarez will start Thursday's series finale, his first appearance since April 7. Francona said he'll try to let Tavarez work as long as possible. ``I don't think we want to send him into a start thinking he's going short,'' Francona said. However, Francona acknowledged that 90-100 pitches ``might be a reach.'' ... Francona said he's pleased with LHP Hideki Okajima's success against right-handed batters so far. ``He's really been a plus in our bullpen,'' Francona said. ``He's a valuable weapon down there.''
bbons said he hasn't considered giving the struggling Thomas a day off. ``I don't think we're there yet,'' Gibbons said. ... With Toronto and Boston playing a day game Thursday, C Jason Phillips gave Gregg Zaun a night off Wednesday.
Rangers-White Sox
You don't want anyone sitting out that long.''
isinterpreted. He didn't mean it that way,'' Sosa said.
M, have a bet that if Tyner hits that first home run, Gardenhire has to wear an Aggies shirt. ``I know he's still trying to hit that home run,'' Gardenhire said, chuckling.
homers in each of the previous two games. So Brady Anderson is still the only player to ever hit home runs to begin a game three straight times. Anderson hit four consecutive leadoff home runs for Baltimore beginning on April 18, 1996.
NEW YORK: C Paul Lo Duca was back in the lineup Wednesday at Florida. He left Tuesday's game after being hit on the right hand by a foul. ... The Mets went into Wednesday's game tied for the fewest errors in the majors and first in double plays. ``We take a lot of pride in our defense,'' manager Willie Randolph said. ``Everybody kind of wants ownership of that, of making a good play. They want to be able to get a high five.'' ... RHP Orlando Hernandez, scheduled to start Thursday at Florida, has won his previous two starts in Miami.
FLORIDA: RHP Sergio Mitre said he expects to make his next start as scheduled Sunday against Washington. He faced only one batter in Tuesday's start at Houston before leaving with a torn callus on the tip of his middle finger. ``It looks good,'' Mitre said Wednesday. ``It's not raw and pink. We should be OK.'' ... LHP Dontrelle Willis made his 131st career start Wednesday to tie RHP A.J. Burnett's team record.
PHILADELPHIA: RHP Brett Myers is moving from the rotation to the bullpen, with RHP Jon Lieber going from relief duty to starting. ``I'm not going to be selfish about it. If this is what it takes to get us to the playoffs, then that's what I'm going to do,'' Myers said. ``They left it up to me. They left it as my decision, and I told them that whatever is going to help the team, I'm going to do.'' Myers, 0-2 with a 9.39 ERA in three starts this season, will mostly be used in the seventh or eighth innings. The right-hander also could see work as a closer when Tom Gordon isn't available. ... Manager Charlie Manuel discussed his argument with a radio host, saying: ``I got questioned (about) who I was as a man, and how tough I am.'' Manuel sought to make clear that he's capable of confronting players, that there's more to him than the mild-mannered man most are familiar with, a persona he called, ``Take-It-Easy Charlie, Laid-Back Charlie, Uncle Charlie, Grandpa Charlie.''
' Williams spoke after Tuesday night's loss to Atlanta about not having confidence in himself. Said Acta: ``That doesn't send the right message to me or the rest of the league.'' ... Acta was asked what his plans are for when SS Cristian Guzman (hamstring, DL) is able to play; Felipe Lopez moved from 2B to SS when Guzman went down, with Ronnie Belliard moving into the lineup at 2B. ``We'll cross that bridge when we get there,'' Acta said.
HOUSTON: The Astros began an unusual trip in Cincinnati on Wednesday night - nine games in four cities. They play two in Cincinnati, three in Milwaukee, one in Philadelphia and three in Pittsburgh. ... Chris Burke, who had started every game in CF, was out of the lineup. Jason Lane started in center. ... RHP Woody Williams (0-2) gets his fourth chance to get his first win for the Astros on Thursday. Williams hasn't faced the Reds since July 31, 2005, when they hit three homers off him in five innings. Williams is 8-5 career against Cincinnati. He signed with the Astros as a free agent last November.
CINCINNATI: Ken Griffey Jr. caught Luke Scott's fly at the top of the right-field wall in the second inning. ... The Reds have decided to go with two catchers for now. They activated OF Norris Hopper from the 15-day DL and designated C Chad Moeller for assignment to the minors. That leaves them with David Ross and Javier Valentin to catch. ... 2B Brandon Phillips ran hard on his second-inning homer, which barely cleared the wall in center. Manager Jerry Narron said something to Phillips after he broke into a home run trot on a ball that hit the wall the previous night.
CHICAGO: 2B Mark DeRosa, the No. 7 hitter in nine of his first 10 starts, hit second Wednesday and delivered a first-inning homer. Manager Lou Pinella said he's looking for better production from the top of the lineup but hopes to stick with a winning combination. ``The more constant the lineup, the better,'' Pinella said. ``We've just got to find the right combination and we're still poking. Once we find the right combination and it works, you won't see changes. We'll stay with it, believe me.'' ... Pinella said he will stick with an 11-man pitching staff indefinitely after the team optioned RHP Angel Guzman to Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday to make room for OF Felix Pie. ``If we need to, we can get a pitcher in here right away,'' Pinella said.
ATLANTA: INF Willy Aybar was suspended indefinitely after the utility infielder failed to report for Atlanta's game against the Chicago Cubs. Aybar, on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right hand, was suspended without pay for three games after he did not show up for treatment. The suspension was due to end Wednesday but instead was extended. ``Willy is not here,'' Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. ``We want all our players to be here. That's not unreasonable, is it? But he's not here, and so that's a problem.'' ... The Braves-Marlins game rained out in Atlanta on Saturday has been rescheduled as part of a split doubleheader on June 5. The rescheduled game is set for 2:35 p.m., and the previously scheduled game is scheduled for 7:35 p.m.
. He is 3-1 vs. Milwaukee in his career, with an ERA of 3.63. Duke made his major league debut at Miller Park, going seven innings while allowing three earned runs and received a no-decision.
MILWAUKEE: The Brewers are in the midst of a stretch of 22 games in which they only play NL Central opponents. ... They entered Wednesday night's game 2-2 in the first four of those games, with one rainout. ... 1B Prince Fielder did not start for the first time of the season Wednesday night. Kevin Mench batted third for Fielder, and Damian Miller played first base. The last time Miller played first was 2001 with the Diamondbacks, but this is his first career start at first. First base was the only position started by only one player for the Brewers until Wednesday night. ... Brewers starters have gone at least five innings in every one of Milwaukee's 13 games this season. The longest such streak in Brewers history is 17, back in 1971. ... The Brewers are 6-0 when leading after seven innings.
Little said he would choose between RHP Rudy Seanez and RHP Chin-Hui Tsao for the long relief role while Hendrickson is in the starting rotation. ... Little was amused with LHP Randy Wolf's umpire brother, Jim, working behind the plate Wednesday. ``What would have happened if I'd brought in Randy to pitch?'' Little said. ``Would his brother have to move to one of the bases?''
COLORADO: Manager Clint Hurdle clarified his rotation for the next two days. He'll go with Aaron Cook Thursday and then Josh Fogg. ``There was an erroneous statement put out that Josh would start Thursday,'' Hurdle said. ... CF Steve Finley was the only change to Colorado's lineup on Wednesday night. ``It had nothing to do with his home run that got us started in the eighth inning (Tuesday),'' Hurdle said. ``I've always liked to keep players fresh and I felt this was the time to get him into the lineup.''
Wrigley Field. ... The Cardinals' 6-7 overall start marked the worst by a World Series winner since the 1998 Florida Marlins opened 1-11.
SAN FRANCISCO: All three catching Molina brothers were in the Bay Area on Wednesday: Jose with the Angels in Oakland; Yadier with the Cardinals in San Francisco to play the Giants, whose backstop is their older brother Bengie. Yadier and Bengie started against each other for the first time in their careers. ... Todd Linden started in center field in place of Dave Roberts, who had some food poisoning Tuesday. Manager Bruce Bochy will play Linden most games against left-handed starters. ... After a rough and rainy road trip, Bochy was happy that everyone came out of it uninjured - a real feat with a veteran roster. ``That's one of our goals - keeping everybody feeling good,'' Bochy said. ``We'll get this turned around.''
ARIZONA: LHP Randy Johnson plans to make one more minor league start before joining the Diamondbacks' rotation. The Big Unit, returning from offseason back surgery, will pitch for Triple-A Tucson on Thursday night. If all goes well, Johnson could pitch for the Diamondbacks against San Diego next Tuesday in Phoenix. ... Rookie RHP Micah Owings played catch a day after leaving a game against the Dodgers with a strained right hamstring.
SAN DIEGO: C Josh Bard, on the disabled list with a strained groin, played soft toss Wednesday and is scheduled to begin running when the Padres are in Colorado for a weekend series. ``He's progressing,'' manager Bud Black said. ... The Padres purchased the contract of RHP Aaron Rakers from Triple-A Portland to help bolster their weary bullpen, which threw 25 2-3 innings in the last five games. INF-OF Paul McAnulty was optioned to Portland. The addition of Rakers gives the Padres 13 pitchers.

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