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By ANTHONY GAGLIANO, STEVE LEE and Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 24, 2002


Despite good spring, Phillies send top pitching prospect to minors

SARASOTA -- Brett Myers' bid to go from Double A to the Phillies' starting rotation ended Saturday.

Myers, 21, the organization's top pitching prospect, was reassigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after showing the Phillies he's a lot closer than expected. In four games, Myers was 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 17 innings.

"I told Brett to go down, work hard, have the same attitude, same work ethic and he'll be in the big leagues before he knows it," manager Larry Bowa said. "He's a legitimate No. 1 in a rotation if he continues to progress."

The Phillies also reassigned pitcher Amaury Telemaco to the minor-league camp and sold the contract of outfielder Felipe Crespo to the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Central League.

With 33 players in camp, the Phillies must make eight more cuts.

THE GAME: Reggie Taylor homered in the ninth for a 4-3 victory over the Reds. Taylor went 3-for-4 with two doubles and scored twice. Mike Lieberthal and minor-league catcher Jeremy Salazar homered off Gabe White for a 3-2 lead in the seventh.

IN CONTROL: Starter Vicente Padilla allowed five hits and no walks in five innings. He hasn't walked anyone in 18 2/3 innings.

Lilly has good outing

TAMPA -- Ted Lilly isn't in the starting rotation, but with a few more outings like Saturday, he might be.

Lilly pitched five shutout innings in a 5-1 victory over Cleveland.

With Sterling Hitchcock sideline with a strained lower back, which likely will land him on the disabled list to begin the season, Lilly was pressed into the start. He responded by giving up no hits and two walks. But manager Joe Torre said he still expects Lilly to come out of the bullpen as a long reliever during the season.

"Right now, we have him slated for the bullpen, but he certainly can take the ball every once in a while if we need a start," he said. "He certainly gives us an option during the season." SWINGING BATS: Injured outfielders Rondell White and Bernie Williams took batting practice and shagged fly balls, but neither played. Torre said Williams, who hurt his left hamstring, probably would DH today. White, who strained his left rib cage, likely will DH Monday in a minor-league game.

PETTITTE UPDATE: Torre said Andy Pettitte, who last pitched March 3 because of a strained left elbow, won't start the season on the major-league roster.

"I think for his mental health, it's best that he doesn't even try to compete for a spot," Torre said.

MINOR HONORS: Outfielders Marcus Thames and Juan Rivera were honored as 2001 co-minor league players of the year. Thames hit .321 with 31 home runs for Double-A Norwich. Rivera had 28 homers and 98 RBIs for Norwich and Triple-A Columbus.

Same batter, same result

DUNEDIN -- With Detroit's Bobby Higginson leading off Saturday's game, Blue Jays starter Roy Halladay might have been excused for having nightmares.

Manager Buck Martinez insisted that was not the case after Higginson drilled a 1-and-0 pitch over the rightfield fence in a 9-4 loss. On Sept.27, 1998, Higginson foiled Halladay's no-hitter with a two-out, pinch-hit homer in the ninth in Toronto's final game of the season. Halladay won that game, his first as a major-leaguer. "I don't even think Doc thought about that," Martinez said. Halladay, slated to pitch Toronto's home opener April 4 against Minnesota, fell to 0-3 this spring after allowing eight hits and four runs in 6 1/3 innings. The 24-year-old right-hander also gave up a homer to Mike Rivera, one of three Tiger homers.

"He wasn't as sharp as he could have been, but he got his work in," Martinez said of Halladay, who threw 87 pitches. "We'll take him to 100 pitches in his next outing."

HITTING IN THE CLUTCH: First baseman Carlos Delgado, slowed recently by a stiff neck, started for the second straight game and drove in his first run.

Delgado's groundout scored Raul Mondesi, who led off the seventh with the first of his two doubles. Mondesi's second double drove in two runs and came with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth.

But Martinez wanted to talk about Mondesi's first double, a drive into the right-centerfield gap.

"When he hits the ball to right-center, he's as dangerous a hitter as there is," Martinez said.

FOUR SENT DOWN: The Jays reduced their roster by four with catcher Josh Phelps and right-handers Brian Bowles, Scott Cassidy and Pasqual Coco optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.

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