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Neagle has pain-free workout

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2003


PHOENIX -- Colorado's Denny Neagle had no trouble with his sore left elbow in a bullpen session Saturday, but his status as opening-day starter remains unclear.

Neagle threw for nearly 10 minutes, working his way through all of his pitches without pain in his second bullpen session in three days.

"He threw all of his pitches, his breaking pitches and changeups, and he came away feeling very, very encouraged by it," Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca said. "A little reluctance at the start because he remembered where the bite would come in certain pitches, but he realized there was nothing there."

But even with the progress, the Rockies might hold Neagle back to give him more time to heal and build his strength.

"We want to make sure we have no sense of urgency with his recovery," manager Clint Hurdle said. "If we are getting to the point we are feeling confident his recovery is secure and complete, we might backload him ... to the back of the rotation."

Neagle, who had arthroscopic surgery on his elbow during the offseason, threw Thursday for the first time since taking himself out one batter into the fourth against minor-leaguers March 14. He also had elbow pain against Seattle on March 9.

Neagle is expected to throw again Monday. Without any setbacks, he will start either against the White Sox on Wednesday or in a simulated game.

Meanwhile, outfielder Gabe Kapler was taken to a hospital for what Hurdle called "violent vomiting."

And Aaron Cook's scoreless inning streak ended at 14 after giving up four runs in the first to Oakland.

BRAVES: Making his fourth start of the spring, Mike Hampton pitched six scoreless innings in a 4-1 victory against the Mets. He gave up three hits, walked two and threw 79 pitches, lowering his spring ERA from 7.07 to 4.95.

BREWERS: Brooks Kieschnick allowed two runs in the top of the sixth then homered in the bottom half against the White Sox. Kieschnick is trying to win a spot as a reliever and pinch-hitter.

CUBS: Infielder Mark Grudzielanek played in his first game since March 4, when he sprained his right ankle sliding into home. He started at second base and went 0-for-3.

EXPOS: Ace Javier Vazquez could miss the season opener because of a strained calf muscle. He was hurt Friday, and the Expos estimate he will miss 5-14 days.

INDIANS: Starter Dave Burba struck out three in two innings. The right-hander probably won't make the roster, but 10 scouts attended the game.

MARLINS: Third baseman Mike Lowell, out since March 6 with a stiff lower back, had a run-scoring single in his first at-bat and showed no signs of the injury. Also, former Devil Rays reliever Steve Kent was sent to Triple-A Albuquerque.

ORIOLES: Former Ray Jason Johnson made the starting rotation, for now, manager Mike Hargrove said, leaving Rick Helling and Pat Hentgen to compete for the final slot. Johnson joins opening-day starter Rodrigo Lopez, Omar Daal and Sidney Ponson.

After Johnson gave up six first-inning runs to the Marlins, the manager softened his endorsement, saying, "As of now, he's in the rotation." He settled down, but the outing raised his ERA this spring from 3.27 to 6.19.

REDS: Danny Graves, converting from a closer to a starter, worked out of the stretch during his entire outing and had his best game this spring. He allowed six hits in five shutout innings, struck out two and walked none against Toronto.

"Things are going too well not to throw out of the stretch," Graves said. "I've got all four pitches working. Why even worry about going back to the windup?"

RED SOX: Former Ray Ryan Rupe was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Rupe went 2-0 with a 12.00 ERA this spring.

TIGERS: Rookie Jeremy Bonderman was named to the starting rotation then allowed four home runs in four innings in a 10-3 loss to Cleveland.

"He got roughed up, but I don't care," manager Alan Trammell said. "I think he can handle this. I'm going to stick to my decision."

Trammell also selected Omar Infante as his starting shortstop and gave the second-base job to Ramon Santiago. That leaves Damion Easley as the odd man out, and Trammell hinted that Easley, who is guaranteed $6.5-million in each of the next two seasons, might not make the 25-man roster.

TWINS: Third baseman Corey Koskie left the game against the Yankees in the second with right groin tightness. His status was not known.

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