Garciaparra on 15-day disabled list

Nomar Garciaparra, who didn't get into any spring training games because of pain in his right wrist, was placed on the 15-day disabled list by Boston.

Saturday's move is retroactive to March 22, meaning Garciaparra could be activated next Saturday, but the three-time All-Star is likely to have surgery and miss 2½-4 months.

Garciaparra, who has won the last two AL batting titles, is likely to decide within the next couple of days, Red Sox spokesman Kevin Shea said Sunday.

Garciaparra split a tendon in the wrist after he was hit by a pitch from Baltimore's Al Reyes in September 1999.

The ball caused swelling in the tendon and the canal encasing the tendon. Garciaparra played with the injury last season, even though the throwing and swinging motions required in baseball made it worse.

Also placed on the disabled list retroactive to March 22 were right-handers David Cone (right shoulder inflammation), Juan Pena (recovering from right elbow surgery) and Hipolito Pichardo (right elbow strain), and infielder John Valentin (recovering from left knee surgery).

Right-hander Bret Saberhagen, recovering from right shoulder surgery, was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 30.

Right-hander Bryce Florie, recovering from a fracture near his right eye sustained when he was hit by a line last year, was placed on the 60-day disabled list retroactive to March 31.

Boston purchased the contracts of infielder Craig Grebeck and left-hander Pete Schourek from Triple-A Pawtucket, and optioned infielders Lou Merloni and Morgan Burkhart, and right-hander Sun Woo Kim to Pawtucket.

Outfielder Mike Neill, right-hander Todd Erdos and left-hander Trever Miller were reassigned to Boston's minor league camp. -- The Associated Press

Mets prospect killed in car crash

SNEADS, Fla. -- Brian Cole, among the top prospects in the New York Mets' farm system, died when he was ejected from his SUV after it crashed in the Florida Panhandle.

Cole, 22, was not wearing a seat belt when his Ford Explorer overturned as he drove home Saturday from spring training in Port St. Lucie to Meridian, Miss., with his cousin, Ryan Cole, a Florida Highway Patrol accident report said.

Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said Cole was taking his Explorer home and was to fly Sunday to Binghamton, N.Y., to join the Mets' Double-A team for its season opener.

The one-car accident occurred on Interstate 10 near State Highway 286, just south of the Georgia border and about 45 miles northwest of Tallahassee.

Witnesses traveling behind Cole said they watched as his Explorer veered into the median and re-entered the highway, said Cpl. Ricky Warden, an FHP homicide investigator. Cole apparently struggled to regain control of the truck before it turned over.

Cole, who was single and the youngest of five children, was pronounced dead at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Ryan Cole, 17, was treated and released.

Warden said there was no indication that alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash and that the accident remained under investigation. -- The Associated Press.

Jeter to open season on DL

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will start the regular season on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quadriceps.

“I know he feels obligated to be ready, but I'm still more comfortable having him take the extra four, five days and that's what it came down to,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said Saturday.

Jeter, who is going on the disabled list retroactively, will be eligible to be activated next Saturday, when New York plays the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Torre said Jeter likely will rejoin the team Friday.

“I know he probably could go out and play, but again, because it's such a short time being away, you really have to look at the big picture,” Torre said. “He did not try and talk me out of it. Once I said this is what I want to do, that was it. He did not, even kiddingly, try to change my mind.”

The Yankees also placed outfielders Henry Rodriguez (back strain) and Shane Spencer (knee), along with pitcher Ramiro Mendoza (shoulder) on the 15-day disabled list. Pitcher Darrell Einertson (rotator cuff) was put on the 60-day DL.

Scott Seabol, who hit .296 with 20 homers and 78 RBIs at Double-A Norwich last season, will replace Rodriguez.

Jeter has played the field past two days in minor league games after being sidelined two weeks. He admitted Saturday that he still feels the injury when running.

“I don't feel it walking around,” Jeter said. “The only time I feel it is when I run.”

Jeter will continue working out at the Yankees' extended spring training camp. He appeared in just five major league spring games, going 3-for-15.

“I don't want to be down here,” Jeter said. “I told him I'm ready and I told them I could play. I said my part. Everybody wants to play opening day. You don't want to miss games.”

The 2000 World Series MVP, also sidelined by a right shoulder injury and viral throat infection this spring, did not try plead his case with the Yankees.

“You know I'm not going to tell them anyway,” Jeter said. “What I tell them, I don't think they'll listen to it.”

D'Angelo Jimenez will take Jeter's spot on the opening day roster. Luis Sojo is likely to start at shortstop against Kansas City on Monday and bat eighth, with second baseman Alfonso Soriano moving from the No. 8 slot to No. 2. -- The Associated Press

Orosco becomes a free agent

LOS ANGELES — Jesse Orosco refused a minor league assignment with the Dodgers to become a free agent, and the pitcher's agent criticized Los Angeles general manager Kevin Malone.

“Jesse was promised he would be on the team if he was healthy and he's healthy,” agent Alan Meersand said after Friday's roster move. “In baseball, you're only as good as your word, and I'll never be able to trust Kevin Malone again.”

Malone declined to comment.

Orosco, who has appeared in more games than any pitcher in baseball history, signed a minor league contract Feb. 8 and was 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in nine spring training appearances,

Orosco had hoped to become a left-handed setup man for the Dodgers.

“I felt like something was going on the last four or five days, but I thought I'd just ride it out,” Orosco said. -- The Associated Press

Devil Rays trim camp roster to 25

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Devil Rays trimmed their roster Saturday to 25 by sending seven players to the minors, releasing one and placing two on the disabled list.

The Devil Rays optioned second baseman Brent Abernathy, infielder Aubrey Huff, right-handed pitcher Travis Phelps, outfielder Jason Tyner and right-handed pitcher Dan Wheeler to Class-AAA Durham. Infielder Ozzie Guillen was released.

The team placed left-handed pitcher Wilson Alvarez and right-handed pitcher Juan Guzman on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 23. Alvarez is recovering from left shoulder surgery and Guzman, right shoulder surgery. -- The Associated Press

Cuban defector headed for bullpen

HOUSTON — Danys Baez has been told by the Cleveland Indians that his future with the organization is in the bullpen.

Baez, 23, will start the season in a relief role at Triple-A Buffalo after a spring training in which he hit 96 mph several times but had a high ERA.

General manager John Hart said the club has always built its bullpens with power arms.

“We think he can come real fast in the bullpen,” Hart said. “His stuff plays really big in the pen. This could be a quick path for Danys.”

Baez signed a $14.5 million, four-year contract before last season after defecting from Cuba during the Pan American Games. The Indians outbid several teams, including the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves for Baez, a star pitcher on Cuba's national team.

But the 6-foot-3 right-hander has yet to pitch higher than Double-A and struggled last year. -- The Associated Press

Baines makes White Sox roster

MILWAUKEE -- The White Sox made their final roster cuts after Friday's 5-4 loss to the Brewers, sending Kip Wells and Jeff Liefer down to Class AAA Charlotte.

That means the survivors include Harold Baines, Julio Ramirez and relievers Gary Glover and Rocky Biddle. The biggest surprise was Wells, who was competing for a spot in the starting rotation, but also was a candidate for the bullpen.

"Kip has to get locked into what he was doing the last couple of outings -- attacking," manager Jerry Manuel said. "We toyed with him going to the bullpen, but we felt our best young pitcher at this time was probably (Mark) Buehrle."

Liefer was optioned because the Sox believe Baines can provide them with the left-handed at-bats off the bench. Baines said during batting practice Friday at Miller Park that he hadn't been told whether he has made the team. But the Sox already had decided Baines would stick.

"Harold has not officially been signed yet," Manuel said during batting practice. "But, yeah, he made the team."

The Sox's starting rotation at Charlotte figures to be Jon Garland, Jon Rauch, Matt Ginter, Josh Fogg and Wells.

Buehrle will get the nod as the No. 4 starter, while Ramirez will be the fifth outfielder. -- Chicago Tribune

Dodgers' Brown appears headed for DL

A second MRI of Kevin Brown's strained right Achilles' tendon showed improvement but probably not enough to keep him off of the disabled list.

"[The MRI] shows remarkable healing," team physician Frank Jobe said, "but it's still not quite well."

Should Brown go onto the disabled list, it would be retroactive to March 24, and he would probably pitch April 8 against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium.

Brown was scratched from his Opening-Day start because of the injury and Chan Ho Park will take his place. A decision to place Brown on the disabled list must be made by Sunday morning. -- Los Angeles Times

Red Sox exercise Garciaparra's 2004 option

HOUSTON -- The Boston Red Sox exercised their option on Nomar Garciaparra's contract for 2004, agreeing to pay their injured shortstop at least $11.5 million for the final season of a deal that began in 1998.

The team announced the move Friday, two days before the April 1 deadline for them to act on the option, during their next-to-last spring training game, in Houston.

Garciaparra, the AL batting champion the past two seasons, is set to make $6.85 million this season. But he's expected to have right wrist surgery that likely would sideline him for at least the first 2½ months of the season that Boston begins Monday in Baltimore.

His salary this season is far below that of other AL shortstops -- about a third of the $21 million Alex Rodriguez will make with Texas and over half of the $11 million salary Derek Jeter gets from the New York Yankees under their new 10-year contracts.

Garciaparra, in his fifth season with Boston, is playing under a deal that seemed generous for a player with just one year of major league experience when he signed it after hitting .306 with 30 homers and an AL-leading 209 hits in 1997, when he was the AL rookie of the year.

The original five-year deal was worth $23.25 million. Before last season, the Red Sox exercised his option for 2003 of $10.5 million. His salary last season was $3.3 million. -- The Associated Press

Baylor still tinkering with Cubs lineup

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs manager Don Baylor still is tinkering under the hood. As many as three spots are up for grabs in his Opening Day lineup.

Baylor is debating whether to start Joe Girardi or Todd Hundley at catcher. Hundley, who signed a four-year, $23.5 million deal to play in his hometown, probably will get the nod. Girardi's advantage is that he works well with Opening Day starter Jon Lieber.

Baylor is also undecided at first base between Matt Stairs and Ron Coomer. Both Stairs (.345 average, 10 runs batted in) and Coomer (.362, 11 RBIs) hit well this spring but they are suffering from minor injuries.

Coomer has a strained right Achilles' heel. He was available to pinch-hit Friday, so the Cubs figure he will be available Monday.

Stairs has swelling in his right leg from getting hit by an errant throw. He's on medication but also is expected to be ready for Opening Day.

Damon Buford is likely to start in center field, but Baylor wouldn't commit to it. He might opt instead for a left-handed bat, even though it's uncertain if that would be Todd Dunwoody or Gary Matthews Jr.

Baylor will wait until today, when reliever Tom Gordon pitches in a minor-league game. Pitching coach Oscar Acosta said he expects Gordon to throw curveballs, making his availability for Monday more likely.

If the 20-pitch session goes poorly and the club puts Gordon on the disabled list, both Dunwoody and Matthews could make the club.

If not the 25-year-old Dunwoody is expected to get the nod. He batted .298 this spring and played error-free defense. -- Chicago Tribune

Astros place Reynolds, Brocail on DL

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros placed starting pitcher Shane Reynolds and reliever Doug Brocail on the disabled list Friday night.

Reynolds, recovering from knee surgery in December, went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27. He pitched four strong innings Thursday night and will be eligible to come off the DL on April 11.

"I'm very pleased with the way I threw the ball," Reynolds said after throwing 56 pitches a day earlier. "I was hoping I would be able to get three innings. After getting through the first three with a low pitch count, I was able to go another inning."

Reynolds hopes to rejoin the rotation between April 16-18 at Pittsburgh.

Brocail went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 23 with a right hamstring injury. He'll be eligible to rejoin the team on April 7. -- The Associated Press

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