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Cone enjoys perfection

By MIKE READLING

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 19, 1999


TAMPA -- David Cone said before his start against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night that he probably would throw about 80 pitches before leaving.

For a while it looked as though Cone might have to hope for extra innings to reach that number.

The right-hander pitched five perfect innings, striking out two and throwing 58 pitches.

"This was the kind of night to take the plus and run," Cone said. "I always seem to throw them when they don't count. I think it was a good night to cut it off right there. It's nice to get out, take a good night and go."

Cone said the keys were the bite on his breaking ball and the movement on his fastball. Of the 15 batters he faced, nine popped up or flew out, four grounded out and the last two struck out swinging.

"Of the couple of mistakes I made, they hit a couple of fly balls. They just missed them," Cone said. "Stuff like that makes you look good."

OFF THE MOUND: Andy Pettitte returned from his grandfather's funeral in Louisiana and threw off a mound for the first time since leaving a March 7 game with a sore elbow.

The left-hander threw 29 pitches in five minutes and reported no pain. He is not yet scheduled to make a return to the starting rotation.

MORE CUTS: On Wednesday, catchers B.J. Waszgis and Jaime Torres and OF Alonzo Powell were reassigned to the minor-league camp. The team also optioned P Mike Buddie and INF D'Angelo Jimenez to Triple-A Columbus. The team is down to 38 players in camp after starting with 56.

COMING UP: The Yankees travel today to St. Petersburg to take on the Devil Rays as Orlando Hernandez starts against Bobby Witt. Saturday, they play the Indians at Winter Haven with Ramiro Mendoza going against Cleveland's Bartolo Colon. They return home Sunday to play Atlanta at 1:15 with Roger Clemens scheduled to start.

Wells passes second test

DUNEDIN -- LHP David Wells, scratched as the starter Wednesday because of a pulled muscle in his rib cage, made his second appearance of the spring Thursday against the Atlanta Braves.

Relieving starter Pat Hentgen in the sixth inning, Wells pitched two scoreless innings. He started off shaky, giving up three singles to load the bases. But he got out of the jam with an infield popup and a double-play grounder. He retired the side in the seventh. In all, he threw 25 pitches, 17 for strikes.

"Everything was fine," Wells said. "My arm is in good shape. I just need to go out and face hitters."

Wells hopes his next outing lasts longer. He is scheduled to start Tuesday at home against the Rangers. Since being acquired from the Yankees on Feb. 18, Wells has been sidelined with back problems. He worked his back and threw a perfect inning against the Pirates on Saturday. But this week, Wells had pain in his side.

"I felt good, but the twinge is still there on the right side," Wells said. "I hope I'm given the chance to go four innings next time."

LONG TIME COMING: The game was the first time the Blue Jays and Braves have met in five years. The Braves won the past three and own a 3-2 series lead.

TRANSACTIONS: On Wednesday, INF Felipe Crespo was released and RHP Paul Fletcher was re-assigned to minor-league camp.

UP NEXT: The Jays play the Tigers today in Lakeland. RHP Chris Carpenter is scheduled to start for the Jays against RHP Jeff Weaver. On Saturday, LHP Joey Hamilton starts at home against a Phillies split squad.

Another look at Hershiser

Phillies GM Ed Wade said he still is interested in Orel Hershiser, the 40-year-old RHP who will learn by Monday if he fits into Cleveland's plans. If the Indians don't put him in their rotation, Hershiser can walk away from his contract and strike a deal with a team that would

Hershiser has indicated he has options besides the Phillies. Wade said he might call Hershiser's agent, Robert Fraley, in the next day or so. "That's why we made an offer," Wade said of his unsuccessful attempt earlier this spring to sign Hershiser. "We identified him and a couple other guys who might possibly be available."

ETC.: Scott Rolen and Rico Brogna homered against the Pirates but the Phillies couldn't hold leads of 3-0 and 6-4. "A lot of good things happened," manager Terry Francona said, citing two bunt singles and aggressive baserunning. "If you had lost this game in April you'd be a little ticked off, but you can't be upset in March."
-- TIMES WIRES

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