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Around the camps

By MIKE READLING AND BRANT JAMES
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 31, 2002


Don't call him Ron-DL anymore

TAMPA -- It was a sight the Yankees had been hoping to see long before Saturday, their last day of camp, but it was a welcome sight nonetheless.

Rondell White made his first appearance on the lineup card, showing up in the No. 5 spot behind Bernie Williams and just ahead of Robin Ventura, who returned after missing four games (ankle).

White had missed the spring with a rib-cage injury and only began swinging a bat about a week ago. After impressing manager Joe Torre in a minor-league game Friday, the outfielder was told he was going to be on the opening-day roster.

"It feels great. Things worked out," White said. "I'm thrilled I'm going up with them. I didn't want to be left here and be known as Ron-DL."

THE ELBOW'S SWELL: Shane Spencer said his left elbow felt "good" one day after he was hit by a Vicente Padilla pitch. X-rays showed no fracture and the outfielder is day-to-day. Jason Giambi left with tightness in his hamstring but will start on opening day.

GETTING TO 25: The Yankees reduced their roster to the required 25 players by optioning pitcher Adrian Hernandez and outfielder Juan Rivera to Columbus and purchasing the contracts of infielder Ron Coomer and pitcher Jay Tessmer, who came in as a long shot. New York also placed pitchers Sterling Hitchcock, Ramiro Mendoza, Christian Parker and Randy Keisler on the 15-day disabled list.

"To see his expression when I told him just made my spring," Torre said of Tessmer. "It was great. He had no chance when spring started, he did it all himself."

Pitcher Mercado impresses

TAMPA -- Hector Mercado passed his physical, showed up at the park and immediately began showing his new team what he could do. Mercado, the player to be named later in the trade with the Reds that sent Reggie Taylor to Cincinnati, pitched one inning, striking out one.

His appearance served two purposes. It gave manager Larry Bowa a chance to see him and it kept him active since he hadn't pitched since Tuesday.

"I just go by what the scouts say and they say he's got a good arm," Bowa said. "I've never seen him. They say he pitched against us last year but I can't remember."

To make room for Mercado the team designated pitcher Nelson Figueroa for assignment.

ALL LINED UP: Saturday's lineup is the same one Bowa plans to use in Tuesday's opener at Atlanta.

That means Doug Glanville will bat second behind Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Anderson will bat No. 8. The remainder is Bobby Abreu hitting third followed by Scott Rolen, Travis Lee, Mike Lieberthal and Pat Burrell. Pitcher Robert Person will make his first opening-day start and bat ninth.

JUST DUCKY: Brandon Duckworth will pitch today in a camp game at the Joe DiMaggio Complex to keep him on schedule for his first start Friday. The team will work out in Atlanta but Duckworth would not pitch there.

PITCHING IS THE KEY: Bowa is happy with his 25-man roster, which includes veterans Dave Hollins, Todd Pratt and John Mabry, but said the key will be pitching.

The rotation won't be filled until Randy Wolf joins the team in about a week. Wolf has been out with tendinitis in his elbow but is expected to be ready by the second week of the season.

Delgado not worried

DUNEDIN -- Carlos Delgado, the run-producing engine of the lineup, finished an unimpressive spring batting .186 after a 1-for-3 day.

More troubling, perhaps, is he had no home runs, and four doubles and one RBI. He singled, struck out and popped out in a 5-4 win over the Pirates.

Delgado, 29, hit .279 with 39 homers, slugged .540 and drove in 102 last season. That was considered an off year after hitting .344 and slugging .664, with 41 homers and 137 RBIs and making a run at the triple crown in 2000.

Delgado, who has been receiving treatment the past two weeks for a sore neck, said he's not alarmed, so neither should the Blue Jays.

"I don't even know what my numbers are," he said. "I know it's been a funky spring because after I hurt my neck I probably haven't played consistently, probably not had 20 at-bats in a row. I'm not worried. I know what it takes to be ready to play."

SURPRISE: Scott Cassidy, a 26-year-old rookie reliever, was the last player to snag a spot on the opening-day roster, replacing reliever Bob File, who went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left rib cage.

Cassidy, who was diagnosed during the 2000 season as having juvenile diabetes, was 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings this spring.

IN FORM: Vernon Wells received a rare spring-training intentional walk as left-hander Jimmy Anderson put him on in the sixth to face left-handed Eric Hinske with the bases loaded. Manager Lloyd McLendon's move didn't pay off as Hinske doubled in three runs for a 5-1 lead.

MOVES: Outfielder Chad Mottola was returned to minor-league camp after batting .271 this spring. Versatile infielders Brian Lesher (.304) and Dave Berg (.327) had their contracts purchased from Triple-A Syracuse and left-handed pitcher Mike Sirotka was placed on the 60-day disabled list. He is seeking a second opinion on a shoulder surgically repaired last April.

LAST TANGO IN DUNEDIN: The Jays will hold workout in Dunedin this morning at 10 before leaving for their season-opening series in Boston. Chris Carpenter will face Pedro Martinez on Monday.Roy Halladay will start Thursday in the home opener against Minnesota.

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