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By MARK DIDTLER, BRANT JAMES, Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 29, 2001
TAMPA -- The Yankees got good news on the injury front Wednesday.
Orlando Hernandez gave up one hit in three shutout innings in a Triple A exhibition game. It was his first game action since leaving a March 9 game against the Rays with right elbow inflammation.
Manager Joe Torre did not rule out Hernandez starting the April 8 game against the Blue Jays.
"I have a good feeling about 'El Duque,' " Torre said.
Hernandez did not throw any curves. He will do that in a bullpen session Friday.
JETER WORKING: Shortstop Derek Jeter was the designated hitter for consecutive games at the minor-league camp. He reported improvement with his ailing right quadriceps but realized time is running out to avoid going on the disabled list.
"If I don't run full out by Saturday, I can't play Monday," he said.
SHORT HOPS: The Yankees have narrowed the race for the fifth starter spot to Sid Fernandez and Christian Parker. Parker will make his final spring appearance Friday. ... The Yankees traded Glenallen Hill to Anaheim for minor-league outfielder Darren Blakely. ... Pitcher Ramiro Mendoza will remain in Florida after camp breaks. He had shoulder surgery last season. ... The Yankees likely will carry 11 pitchers, which should help the chance of St. Petersburg's Dwight Gooden to make the opening day roster. -- MARK DIDTLER
DUNEDIN -- Former Rays farmhand Chris Michalak entered spring training with modest expectations. The 30-year-old left-hander likely will leave camp on a team charter to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the Blue Jays open the season Sunday against Texas.
After going 1-1 with 3.57 ERA in six spring games, Michalak apparently has secured the fifth starter spot. Although he said management had told him nothing, he looked Wednesday like the pressure was off, allowing four hits and striking out four in six scoreless innings of a 6-2 win against Pittsburgh.
"I just wanted to come in and get a chance to pitch, and I managed to take advantage of it," Michalak said. "As a non-roster guy, things really have to fall into place for you. If I make it, I'll be pretty excited."
Five of the nine runs Michalak allowed this spring came in a March 6 loss to the Rays. Since then he has won manager Buck Martinez's confidence.
"He's pitched a lot of games," Martinez said. "I think he has experience beyond his major-league experience."
COCO PUFFS: Right-hander Pasqual Coco has replaced Chris Carpenter as the starter when the Blue Jays play Texas on Saturday in an exhibition in San Juan.
Carpenter has not pitched since straining a rib cage muscle in a game March 21. He long-tossed Tuesday and threw a bullpen session Wednesday.
Carpenter will not make the trip to Puerto Rico. Pitcher Mike Sirotka (torn labrum) and infielder Jeff Frye (knee surgery) also will remain.
NUMBERS GAME: Toronto has 33 players in camp after releasing catcher Todd Greene on Wednesday. Its roster must be pared to 25 by Saturday, the day before its season opener. Of the four non-roster players in camp, three are pitchers: Michalak, and relievers John Frascatore and Mark Hendrickson.
Outfielder Ryan Thompson is the other non-roster player. Placing Sirotka on the 60-day disabled list would open a spot on the active roster. -- BRANT JAMES
LAKELAND -- Omar Daal, scheduled to start on opening day, allowed three runs and six hits in six innings as Philadelphia beat Detroit 4-3 at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Damion Easley, Juan Encarnacion and Robert Fick homered for Detroit, the first home runs off Daal this spring. "He pitched good enough to win," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. "He makes good pitches when he has to."
SHORT HOPS: Reliever Rheal Cormier made his first appearance in six days, pitching a scoreless eighth inning. The left-hander had been out with hemorrhoids. ... The Phillies collected two runs and seven hits in 22/3 innings off starter Dave Mlicki. ... Mike Lieberthal homered in the second inning. -- TIMES WIRES