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Around The Area Camps

Pettitte leaves early with mild arm strain

By Times staff, wire reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 1999

TAMPA -- After throwing seven pitches in the first inning of the Yankees' exhibition game against Minnesota, left-hander Andy Pettitte tossed three warmup pitches and went to the trainer's room with a tight left elbow.

Pettitte, 16-11 with a 4.24 ERA last season, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where an MRI exam revealed he has a mild muscle strain.

"There was no significant tenderness, no swelling," team physician Stuart Hershon said. "The preliminary studies look good. We won't have a complete answer on that until (today), but so far everything looks good. It was a precautionary thing to do."

"I guess he felt a little tight in the first and wanted to see if it would loosen," manager Joe Torre said. "I think he felt a little thing and didn't want it to become a big thing."

Pettitte, making his first start of the spring, has a history of tightness and pain in the elbow. He missed a scheduled live batting practice appearance two weeks ago but has pitched twice since without a problem.

"I think we're safe for a week or so without him," Torre said. "I'm happy it happened in the first week."

LOCAL HERO: Mike Figga, a Leto High graduate and Tampa resident trying to become the third-string catcher, hit a two-run homer in the ninth for a 6-5 Yankee victory.

INJURY UPDATE: Second baseman Chuck Knoblauch sat out after being hit in the kidney by a pitch in the ninth inning of Saturday's game. "He just got hit and there was no reason for him to play today," Torre said.

COMING UP: Today the Yankees play their first night game when they take on the Phillies at 7:15. David Cone pitches against Curt Schilling. Roger Clemens is scheduled to make his first start at Legends Field against the Texas Rangers on Thursday beginning at 7:15.

MIKE READLING, TIMES WIRES Homecoming for Andrews

DUNEDIN -- Three years ago, LHP Clayton Andrews pitched in Dunedin Stadium for Seminole High School. Sunday, Andrews was back on the mound, this time for Toronto

Andrews, invited to major-league camp for the first time, started and pitched three innings in the second game. He gave up two hits and two runs, including a home run to Brook Fordyce. Andrews pitched for Class A Hagerstown last season and was 10-7 with a 2.28 ERA.

"This is something I've always wanted to do," Andrews said. "I've pitched on this mound in high school, and now I'm here pitching in the big leagues. It's almost unreal.

"My location was a little shaky. I was a little nervous. This is the first time I pitched since last season, so obviously everything isn't going to be jelled quite yet."

ROUGH START: The last time right-hander Roy Halladay pitched for Toronto, he came within one out of a no-hitter against Detroit on Sept. 27. Halladay made his spring debut Sunday, and it was a different result. He pitched three innings and gave up seven hits and five runs, including home runs to Michael Tucker and Aaron Boone, in a 10-1 loss.

"I wasn't happy with the way I felt," Halladay said. "Three out of my four pitches were good. The slider wasn't too good. But now I know what I need to work on."

Halladay is vying for the fifth starting spot, and he said he feels some pressure.

"I think that might have been in the back of my mind," he said. "I need to not try to do too much. I don't want to go out every time and think about that. I know I have to challenge for a spot."

ETC.: Cecil Fielder hit his first homer in the seventh inning of the first game. . . . 2B Tony Fernandez was hit in the right knee by a John Hudek pitch in the fourth and left the game. Fernandez walked off and is day-to-day. . . . RHP Pat Hentgen faces Cleveland RHP Charles Nagy at 1:05 p.m. today at Dunedin Stadium.

Solid start for Spoljaric

BRADENTON -- When the Phillies acquired left-hander Paul Spoljaric, it was assumed that he was coming in to bolster a bullpen that was one of the worst in baseball last year. Wrong. The Phillies wanted to look at Spoljaric as a starting pitcher

* * *

"When I look at Paul, I see a healthy, 6-foot-4 lefty with three good major-league pitches," manager Terry Francona said. "We'd be crazy not to look with him in this role.

"I'm not going to say he's going to win 20. But we have to find out if he can do it. If he can, all of a sudden, we've got a pretty good find."

Spoljaric pitched three innings against the Pirates. He gave up five hits and two runs while walking one and striking out two. Two of the hits were doubles.

"Three or four years ago, everyone thought he was going to be a good starter in the big leagues," Francona said.

Spoljaric, 28, moved to the bullpen when he got to the majors in 1996. "This is a chance for me to resurrect my career," he said. "It's a big opportunity to excel. They're going to give me the ball. You can't ask for more."

ENCOURAGING START: Tyler Green and Mike Grace, both coming off arm surgery, made their first appearances. Green, in relief of Spoljaric, allowed four runs and three hits and Grace gave up a run in two innings. Green and Grace are trying to pitch their way back into the rotation.

"I was really encouraged by Gracie and I think he should be, too," Francona said. "It probably wasn't fair to put Tyler in a situation like that because he's always been a starter."

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