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Wells feels good on the mound

By Times wire and staff report
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 24, 2002

TAMPA -- Yankees pitcher David Wells had another strong bullpen session Saturday and could be ready to pitch in early spring training games.

Wells is coming off back surgery in July and was not expected to resume throwing until late this month, but the left-hander has thrown off a bullpen mound three times and had one session of batting practice.

"I threw a little longer because I felt good," Wells said of his 15-minute session. "I'm right even with everybody else."

Rain forced the Yankees indoors for the second straight day.

Wells should make his spring debut in the first week of games.

"When that day comes, I'll be ready," he said.

Wells is scheduled to throw batting practice Monday.

MATTINGLY UPDATE: Hall of Fame first baseman Don Mattingly remained hospitalized with back pain two days after being hurt helping in a spring training drill. He has spent two nights at St. Joseph's Hospital, and it is not known when he will be released.

PLAY BALL: Intrasquad games are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. A number of prospects, Brandon Claussen, David Walling, Alex Graman and Adrian "El Duquecito" Hernandez, are scheduled to pitch.

McGraw reports to camp

CLEARWATER -- Tug McGraw, father of country singer Tim McGraw and father-in-law of Faith Hill, joined the Phillies as a spring training instructor.

Tug's greatest claim to fame is that he threw the final pitch of the 1980 World Series to close out the Phillies' only championship.

"They said it was the slowest pitch ever thrown in Philadelphia. It took 97 years to get there," McGraw said. "Those memories are still something I cherish and still something fresh. I enjoy sharing them with people."

Manager Larry Bowa invited McGraw to camp to share his winning attitude and his thoughts on pitching. Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt also will join the team as a spring instructor.

"These are two guys who weren't just good players, they were also on winning teams," Bowa said after a rain-shortened workout. "I think it's important for (young players) to be around players who have been successful here."

Bowa figures all his players know who McGraw's daughter-in-law is. "That just goes to show you players haven't changed that much," McGraw said.

McGraw, also a member of the Mets' 1969 championship team, admitted he was nervous about coming to camp and said he went on a diet and lost 20 pounds before his two-week spring training stint.

NEW DEAL: Shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who led the National League in stolen bases (46) and triples (12) and was the only Phillie selected for the All-Star Game last season as a rookie, signed a one-year contract worth $355,000.

ADAMS RECOVERING: Right-hander Terry Adams, sidelined since the second day of camp with a strained right calf muscle, may return to the mound Monday.

-- BOB BROOKOVER

Loaiza out of action

DUNEDIN -- An MRI on Esteban Loaiza's right shoulder revealed a small tear in his labrum. Loaiza will be sidelined 10-14 days before he attempts to throw again.

The Blue Jays hope rest and an exercise program will strengthen the shoulder and that after a couple of weeks the 30-year-old right-hander can throw again.

"We are disappointed for Esteban, but we can't do a thing about it," manager Buck Martinez said. "We'll have the answer in 10-14 days."

Loaiza said he knew something was wrong.

"It was kind of tight," he said. "I think I overdid it. You know, there's excitement when you come into camp and you want to throw and all."

BACK FOR MORE: Former manager Cito Gaston, 57, began his third stint with the Jays after being hired as a special adviser to Paul Godfrey, Jays president and CEO.

-- MIKE RUTSEY

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