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Yanks pitchers breeze in 1st hitting session

By MARK DIDTLER and PAUL HAGEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 23, 2001


TAMPA -- All four of the Yankees' top starters -- Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez and Mike Mussina -- reported no problems after their initial 10-minute batting practice Thursday.

"Everybody is fine," manager Joe Torre said.

Mussina has been kept out of running drills because of a minor left calf problem. The right-hander has not missed a scheduled throwing session.

"My arm doesn't hurt, and I was throwing it over the plate," Mussina said. "That's what counts."

CAREFUL MENDOZA: The Yankees continue to be cautious with reliever Ramiro Mendoza, who had shoulder surgery in September. He is scheduled to throw in the bullpen today. It is possible he will remain in Florida when the Yankees break camp next month.

O'NEILL'S REST: Torre hopes to give rightfielder Paul O'Neill, who turns 38 Sunday, a few extra days off this season. O'Neill could get some at-bats at DH. "We'll see what is best for him," Torre said. "What's best for him is best for us." O'Neill hit .283 with 18 homers and 100 RBI in 142 games last year.

ETC.: The Yankees are scheduled to take the field at 10 a.m. today. The schedule includes live batting practice and fundamental drills. ... DH/OF David Justice returned after missing Wednesday's first workout because of a personal matter. He faced Mussina and Adrian "El Duquecito" Hernandez in his first live batting practice session since double hernia surgery last month. ... Team officials have been impressed with 2B Chuck Knoblauch, who had elbow and throwing problems last season. ... First-base prospect Nick Johnson (chicken pox) is expected back early next week. -- MARK DIDTLER

Byrd unhappy after pitching workout

CLEARWATER -- Paul Byrd's comeback suffered a setback at the Carpenter Complex.

The right-hander, who won 15 games and was a National League All-Star in 1999 before arthroscopic shoulder surgery in August, was discouraged after pitching batting practice.

"I don't think throwing 70 mph to hitters is going to help me at all," he said. "If I need to play long toss or whatever, I'll do that. I had no arm strength at all."

After signing a minor-league contract Jan.26, Byrd had been upbeat about his progress. "Three days ago I thought I was going to be the Cy Young winner. Now I couldn't break a pane of glass," he said. "I guess that's what happens after surgery."

PENTHOUSE PROBLEMS: Slugger Pat Burrell usually is noticed for what he does on the field, but his life off the field was the topic of discussion Thursday.

In a sometimes-raunchy interview appearing in the April issue of Penthouse magazine, the 24-year-old answers a series of mostly sex-related questions with surprising candor. He talks about his experiences in a Clearwater strip club, pick-up lines, sexual fantasies and turn-offs and, just for a changeup, threw out a comment on Bill Clinton's White House legacy.

The Phillies were not amused. "Everybody's right to freedom of speech is protected," general manager Ed Wade said. "But I don't think Pat used good judgment in this situation. I'm disappointed and I hope he uses better judgment in the future."

Burrell said he would have more to say today, then added: "I didn't mean to offend anyone and, if I did, I apologize. There was no intent to embarrass the organization or my teammates. If that happened, I'm sorry. I didn't really think about that at the time. Obviously, this is a touchy issue."

Burrell, who is 24 and single, said he got an unsolicited call from the magazine about two months ago. He did not deny making any of the comments attributed to him.

CLOSED DOORS: Manager Larry Bowa held an unusual session after the workout. He called Scott Rolen, Mike Lieberthal, Bobby Abreu, Doug Glanville, Travis Lee, Kevin Jordan, Robert Person, Burrell and Brian R. Hunter into a conference room at the Carpenter Complex for a meeting that third-base coach John Vukovich also attended.

They didn't emerge for two hours. When it was over, Bowa issued a gag order. It is believed, however, that leadership issues were discussed.

ETC.: Bowa is considering giving second baseman Marlon Anderson, Glanville and Abreu the green light to run on their own in spring training. -- PAUL HAGEN

Today's workouts

BLUE JAYS: 9 a.m. at Englebert Complex, 1700 Solon Ave., Dunedin.

PHILLIES: 10 a.m. at Carpenter Complex, 651 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater.

YANKEES: 10 a.m. at Legends Field complex, 1 Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa.

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