© St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2003
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas slugger Juan Gonzalez took part in agility drills Monday, then was held out of the rest of the Rangers' workout because of a continuing back problem.
"He was ready to go, and I probably would have played him if there was a game," manager Buck Showalter said. "At this point it's just better to let him rest."
Gonzalez, a two-time AL MVP, hit .282 with eight homers and 35 RBIs in 70 games last season. The outfielder was sidelined by an injured right thumb that put him on the disabled list on July 31.
"It's a little tight right here," Gonzalez said, pointing to the left side of his lower back. "It's a little uncomfortable, but I'll be fine."
WINTER HAVEN -- Third baseman Matt Whitney, a first-round pick by Cleveland in June, broke a leg while retrieving a basketball and could miss the season.
Whitney, 19, and two minor-leaguers were waiting on another player Sunday when they began shooting a basketball, according to John Farrell, Indians director of player development.
The ball got away, Whitney jogged to retrieve it and turned his ankle when he stepped on a box that covered a sprinkler head.
Whitney had surgery Monday at Celebration Hospital in Orlando to repair fractures to his left tibia and fibula. "It came in a situation that we don't condone, having another kind of ball in his hand," Farrell said. "We will have a talk about that."
HOUSTON -- The Astros will wear the mission patch from the space shuttle Columbia throughout the season to honor the astronauts who died this month.
The team received permission from NASA and the families of the astronauts to wear the patch.
GROUP: NO EPHEDRA: Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, sent a letter to commissioner Bud Selig calling on Major League Baseball to ban the use of ephedra.
Baltimore pitching prospect Steve Bechler died last week, a day after collapsing at spring training with heatstroke. A medical examiner said the death may have been linked to an ephedra-based diet pill, Xenadrine RFA-1.
While ephedra is banned by the NFL, the NCAA and the International Olympic Committee, use of the substance, which is available without prescription, is allowed in baseball.
NO ROSE: Even when he was put on a Hall of Fame ballot, Pete Rose failed to get elected. Rose missed out on making the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, falling short of the necessary 75 percent vote from the selection committee. Baseball's career hits leader, who spent part of the 1984 season with Montreal, was among 46 nominees for the Canadian Hall.
METS: Offense wasn't a problem in the team's first intrasquad game under Art Howe. The new manager saw his players combine for four homers and 25 hits. New York struggled at the plate for most of last season, finishing 11th among the 14 NL teams with 690 runs.
PADRES: Second baseman Homer Bush told the team he is retiring, ending his attempt to make the squad as a nonroster invitee.
TIGERS: The team signed starting catcher Brandon Inge and four pitchers to major-league contracts.