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Baseball

Jeter, A-Rod will miss spring opener

By Times Staff and Wire Reports
Published March 4, 2004

TAMPA - Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter were left off the travel roster for the Yankees' exhibition opener today against Philadelphia. It appears likely that Rodriguez, the AL MVP, will make his debut Friday in the Yankees' spring training home opener against the Phillies.

Manager Joe Torre has not decided whether Rodriguez will make the trip to Fort Myers for Sunday's game against the Red Sox. Rodriguez nearly was traded to the Red Sox in December, but the deal feel through when the players association blocked Boston's proposed restructuring of A-Rod's record $252-million, 10-year contract.

Torre said the offseason turmoil for Rodriguez might factor into his decision.

"Let's put it this way, with everything that goes on with him on a regular basis, that could influence me," he said. "I really haven't given it any thought, but sure, he doesn't need to be exposed to something."

WILLIAMS HOPEFUL: Bernie Williams is not giving up on opening day. He had his appendix removed last week. He will start mild conditioning Monday.

- ASSOCIATED PRESS

Phillies: what about us?

CLEARWATER - The Phillies will christen their new spring home today and the Yankees will be in the opposing dugout for their Grapefruit League opener at sold-out Bright House Networks Field. So what are Phillies are most juiced about?

Themselves.

After just missing the playoffs in 2003, the Phillies upgraded this winter by adding premier closer Billy Wagner, former All-Star left-hander Eric Milton, setup man Tim Worrell and veteran reliever Roberto Hernandez.

"Any time you open against the Yankees - great organization, great tradition - you have to be excited," first baseman Jim Thome said. "But we have an exciting team here, too. After what we've done over the winter, it's time to get it going. We're all pumped up."

Third baseman David Bell won't play today or Friday, but it's simply manager Larry Bowa being cautious and not a relapse of 2003 back/hip injuries or last week's minor knee problem.

"He's not hurt," Bowa said. "Did you watch him (in practice Tuesday)? He must have taken 100 ground balls. I really don't care what people read into it. He's not playing because I don't want to play him."

Catcher Mike Lieberthal also is scheduled to sit today, but rightfielder Bobby Abreu, who had a sore back earlier in the week, expects to play.

Right-hander Vicente Padilla will start for the Phillies and pitch one inning in an outing that will put him on track to pitch the third game of the regular season. Milton will follow Padilla and work three innings or throw 50 pitches, whichever comes first.

As for the games, Bowa says he won't be concerned about wins. That wasn't the case his first year, when the Phillies went into 2001 coming off seven consecutive losing seasons.

"When you lose seven years in a row, (winning in the spring) means a lot," Bowa said. "This year, I want everyone to get their work in. I want everyone to get out of here healthy. I want pitchers stretched out. I want hitters getting at-bats."

- RANDY MILLER

Jays: Lilly gets some rest

DUNEDIN - Left-hander Ted Lilly has stopped throwing, as much as a precaution as anything. Lilly, who arrived at spring training with a strained left wrist courtesy of a fluke accident when moving a television, is now not expected to play catch again until at least Saturday.

While there is no structural damage to the wrist, manager Carlos Tosca is not ruling anything out, not even the possibility Lilly won't be ready for the regular season.

"Obviously, that's a possibility," Tosca said. "We will not do anything to rush him so we are prepared both ways."

- MIKE GANTER

[Last modified March 4, 2004, 01:15:01]


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