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© St. Petersburg Times, published March 1, 2001

Gooden to start today in opener

TAMPA -- Dwight Gooden, a candidate for the fifth starter role or a bullpen spot, will start the spring opener today for the Yankees against the Blue Jays at Dunedin.

"Doc has some advantages over the other people, that's the experience he has," manager Joe Torre said. "With everything being equal, that will help his cause."

Gooden, 36, is not reading too much into the assignment.

"It's probably just the way the schedule works out," the St. Petersburg resident said. "I don't think it's any indication of being a starter, reliever or whatever. How all the pitchers perform will dictate that."

Also scheduled to pitch are Matt Karchner, Todd Williams, Darrell Einertson, former Ray Jeff Sparks and Randy Choate.

DJ AND JORGE: Neither shortstop Derek Jeter nor catcher Jorge Posada, both with right shoulder stiffness, will make today's trip.

Jeter might resume throwing Friday. A decision on Posada's return might come this weekend.

Among the players scheduled to make the trip to Dunedin include third baseman Scott Brosius, second baseman Chuck Knoblauch and outfielder Bernie Williams.

ODDS AND ENDS: Outfielder David Justice (double hernia surgery) should be ready to play this week. . . . Right-hander Roger Clemens will start Friday's home opener against the Blue Jays.- MARK DIDTLER

Bowa: Win 'em all

CLEARWATER -- Don't tell manager Larry Bowa wins and losses won't mean anything when his team opens today against the Royals at Jack Russell Stadium.

"One of the favorite lines down here is, 'I was just getting my work in,' " he said before Wednesday's intrasquad game at the Carpenter Complex. "I know the wins and losses all go back to zero when the regular season starts, but when a team is not used to winning, I want them to get that taste in their mouths."

The Phillies have had losing records in 13 of the past 14 years.

Bowa quickly left himself a loophole, however.

"Winning and losing (exhibitions) doesn't matter to me as much as the way they approach the game matters," he said. "They have to learn how to compete."

ODDS AND ENDS: Right-hander Robert Personwill start today. Right-hander Blake Stein is scheduled to pitch for the Royals. ... Left-hander Bruce Chen has agreed to a split contract worth $300,000 or $170,000 if he is sent to the minors. That leaves only left-hander Randy Wolf and catcher Gary Bennett unsigned. -- PAUL HAGEN

Sirotka's status looming

DUNEDIN -- The Blue Jays hope to know today whether injured left-hander Mike Sirotka can begin a light throwing program soon.

Sirotka, who has a torn labrum and partially torn rotator cuff in his pitching shoulder, will be evaluated today by team doctor Steve Mirabello.

"I don't know that just because (Sirotka) meets with a doctor that we'll be at a point where we can say when he's going to start throwing," manager Buck Martinez said. "But we are going to have an idea of what path to follow."

PARRIS READY: Right-hander Steve Parris, who starts today, is looking forward to throwing in a game situation.

"The only thing I want to do is throw strikes, period," Parris said. "Throwing every other day (in workouts) was tiring me out. I'm looking forward to getting into a rotation."

ODDS AND ENDS: Joey Hamilton will start against the Yankees on Friday in Tampa and Chris Carpenter against Randy Wolf and the Phillies on Saturday at Dunedin Stadium. -- TONY MARASCHIELLO

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