Phillies letting Bell set own pace
By Times Staff Writers Times Wires
Published February 29, 2004
CLEARWATER - After missing much of last season with back and hip injuries, Phillies third baseman David Bell can come and go as he pleases this spring to ensure he's healthy when it's time to break camp.
"He knows his body," manager Larry Bowa said. "He's got carte blanche on what he's doing. If he feels he doesn't want to go out there because it's too cold, he's not going out there."
So far, so good for Bell.
A year ago, the worst of times came when Bell swung the bat. After rehabilitating all winter, he started swinging again Feb. 1 and has had no setbacks.
"The way I feel right now is like it never even happened," Bell said. "I've done probably a couple million situps. I'm in good shape."
From 1999-2002, Bell averaged .260 with 17 homers and 65 RBIs for Seattle and San Francisco. Thanks to injuries he played 85 games his first season in Philadelphia and hit .195 with four homers and 37 RBIs.
"David Bell's a winner," Bowa said. "He's very unselfish in how he approaches the game. He could give a damn about hitting .300. All he wants to see is that left-hand (win) column move every day."
PADILLA OKAY: Right-hander Vicente Padilla, one day after straining a groin during fielding practice, threw batting practice without any problems.
- RANDY MILLER
George hopes Torre stays
TAMPA - Yankees owner George Steinbrenner left no doubt he wants Joe Torre to be his manager.
Torre, in the final year of his contract, has guided the Yankees to four world championships and six AL pennants since 1996.
"We'd like to keep him ... sure would," Steinbrenner said Saturday. "I want Joe to be happy and satisfied. Right now I just want to leave Joe to his own pace. When he's ready, he'll make up his mind, and that's good enough for me."
General partner Steve Swindal, Steinbrenner's son-in-law, and Torre have held general discussions. Torre has not decided whether he wants to manage past this season. He said no formal offer has been presented.
EYEING EL DUQUE: Steinbrenner is interested in bringing right-hander Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez back to New York. Hernandez, a free agent coming off shoulder surgery, threw in an open workout Friday in Miami. Newsday reported Friday that Steinbrenner may have offered Hernandez a minor-league contract, but the owner said he would leave the decision to general manager Brian Cashman, who said the Yankees have not made a proposal.
WILLIAMS UPDATE: Centerfielder Bernie Williams remained hospitalized in Tampa two days after having his appendix removed. Though he had a low-grade fever, he might be released today.
- TIMES WIRES
Ex-closer set to compete
DUNEDIN - Kerry Ligtenberg is one of four candidates for Blue Jays closer.
Ligtenberg, signed as a free agent after a year in Baltimore, has not filled that role for any length of time since 2000, when he had 12 saves for the Braves.
That came a year after Tommy John surgery in his right arm cost him the 1999 season.
The saves have been few and far between since, but that doesn't mean he won't get the chance with the Jays.
"I think every reliever wants to be the closer, to be the guy who is out there pitching with the game on the line," Ligtenberg said. "I'm not coming here saying I want to be the closer, but if I get the opportunity I'll certainly take advantage of it. If nothing else, I think I'll give Carlos (Tosca) another option down there because I know we have four guys who can do it."
Aquilino Lopez, who saved 14 games last season for Toronto after Cliff Politte failed in the role, would appear to be the front-runner. Also in contention are former Colorado reliever Justin Speier and former Phillies setup man Terry Adams.
FILE IT UNDER REJUVENATED: Bob File will miss good friend Pete Walker, but that doesn't mean he was sorry to see him go.
Walker packed his bags last week after the Jays, at his request, sold his contract to the Yokohama BayStars of the Japanese Central League.
Walker was a candidate for the 11th or 12th spot in the bullpen. His departure helps File's cause.
"Yeah, you know I wouldn't mind if three or four more pitchers opted for Japan," File said, joking.
LILLY TO LET LOOSE: Left-hander Ted Lilly, acquired from Oakland for outfielder Bobby Kielty, is expected to throw off a mound today. Lilly hurt his left wrist moving a television before his arrival and has been limited to long tossing.
- MIKE GANTER
[Last modified February 29, 2004, 01:15:11]
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