The NL West

The NL West

LA is good, but could be hurt, the Giants are old and apparently not very happy, the Rockies still play in Colorado, and the Padres picked up Mike Piazza? Catch up on the NL West in one fell swoop with


   It went down to the wire, just as manager Bob Melvin and general manager
Josh Byrnes thought it would. In the end, the final two spots on the
Diamondbacks' 25-man roster went to reliever Greg Aquino and utility player
Andy Green.
   Aquino edged out Casey Daigle, a non-roster invitee, for the last spot in
the bullpen; Green beat out shortstop Jerry Gil for the final spot on the
five-man bench.
   Neither decision was all that surprising. Aquino was already on the
40-man roster and had a dazzling 1.00 ERA in seven appearances this spring.
Gil, 23, hit .385 with five home runs in spring training but doesn't have
the versatility of Green, 28, who hit .367 with two homers and was the
Pacific Coast League's MVP in 2005.
   "For me, it's so much easier to play this game when you're focused on
winning games as opposed to winning a roster spot," Green said, adding of
Gil, "He's going to have a long major league career in my mind. ... The guy
played better than just about anybody in Major League Baseball. Let's be
honest, he was phenomenal.
   "I've worked a long time to put myself on the bench in the major leagues.
I think (Gil) has a chance to still be a superstar."
   Gil will start the season at Triple-A Tucson, but there is a logjam ahead
of him with Stephen Drew starting at shortstop, Alberto Callaspo starting at
second and Brian Barden the expected starter at third base. Gil can play all
three positions and will be tried in the outfield, too, so as to make him
that much more versatile to the organization.
   But finding him playing time could be difficult, which could lead to more
trade speculation. A handful of clubs called the Diamondbacks this spring
about Gil's availability, but a deal was never close to being finalized.

   --C Koyie Hill was designated for assignment Sunday, and if he were to
clear waivers on Tuesday, the team would assign him to Triple-A Tucson. Hill
was Arizona's Opening Day starter in 2005 but was third on the depth chart
this season behind Johnny Estrada and Chris Snyder.
   --LHP Terry Mulholland's contract was purchased by the club, and he was
officially added to the 25-man roster on Sunday when C Koyie Hill was
designated for assignment. Mulholland, 43, signed a minor league contract
with the club in the offseason, but there was never a doubt he wouldn't make
the club. He is the only lefty on the staff, however.
   --RHP Miguel Batista threw his longest outing yet, dealing 85 pitches to
the New York Yankees on Saturday at Chase Field in his final tune-up after a
spring training in which his action was limited because of his use in the
World Baseball Classic.
   Batista, 35, allowed just one run in 5 2/3 innings but said he felt tired
throughout and joked, "I'm getting old. I need to get in better condition.
It's a little hard for me."
   He finished the spring 2-0 with a 3.45 ERA in 15 2/3 innings.
   "Honestly, I think I'm still a little off," he said. "But I can tell you
one thing -- I think the team is ready."
   --SS Craig Counsell finished the spring playing in four straight games
and making all the throws he needed to despite playing with a slight labrum
tear in his right shoulder, which was diagnosed just before the start of
Cactus League play. Counsell likely will have more scheduled days off than
usual, however, just to be cautious. INF Damion Easley will pick up the
brunt of the starts when Counsell is rested.
   --Third base coach Carlos Tosca, still recovering from a broken bone in
his right foot after getting hit by a foul ball earlier in camp, will start
the season on the coaching staff's version of the disabled list. Triple-A
Tucson manager Chip Hale will start the season with the Diamondbacks as
their third base coach -- with Tosca possibly having to watch games in the
clubhouse -- until Tosca returns to his position for Arizona's first
homestand. Tucson hitting coach Lorenzo Bundy will manage the Sidewinders
until Hale returns.
   BY THE NUMBERS: .327 -- LF Luis Gonzalez's career batting average (in 272
career at-bats) at Coors Field, where the Diamondbacks open the regular
   .264 -- RF Shawn Green's career batting average (in 216 at-bats) at Coors
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "If we had a couple more like him we'd be all right."
--Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick on Arizona's Opening
Day starter, Brandon Webb.

   The Diamondbacks surprised even themselves with the amount of offense
that continued to pile up in spring training, at one point batting almost
.400 as a team halfway through the Cactus League schedule. But pitching will
be the biggest question mark facing this organization. The mantra is for the
starters to give the club seven innings every time out, but the bullpen
could be dead tired by the end of April.
   1. RHP Brandon Webb
   2. RHP Miguel Batista
   3. RHP Russ Ortiz
   4. RHP Orlando Hernandez
   5. RHP Claudio Vargas
   Vargas won the spot over LHP Brad Halsey, who was traded to Oakland. At
one point last season, Vargas was the club's best pitcher. He's thriving
with confidence now, and that's when he's at his best.
   RHP Jose Valverde (closer)
   RHP Luis Vizcaino
   RHP Jason Grimsley
   RHP Brandon Lyon
   LHP Terry Mulholland
   RHP Juan Cruz
   RHP Greg Aquino
   Jeff Bajenaru was sent to the minors, leaving the last spot in the pen to
RHP Greg Aquino. Juan Cruz, acquired from the A's for Brad Halsey, will open
in long relief.
   1. SS Craig Counsell
   2. 2B Orlando Hudson
   3. 3B Chad Tracy
   4. LF Luis Gonzalez
   5. 1B Conor Jackson
   6. RF Shawn Green
   7. C Johnny Estrada
   8. CF Eric Byrnes
   1B Conor Jackson will open the season hitting fifth, with RF Shawn Green
hitting sixth. The two flip-flopped during the final week of spring
training, and manager Bob Melvin did it for a couple of reasons, one being
the right-handed bat of Jackson would break up the lefty combination of No.
4 hitter Luis Gonzalez and Green.
   Arizona upgraded its offense by acquiring Estrada from the Braves. The
former Silver Slugger and All-Star might find himself batting in the No. 2
slot at times this season.
   C Chris Snyder
   1B Tony Clark
   INF/OF Damion Easley
   OF Jeff DaVanon
   INF/OF Andy Green
   Tony Clark, coming off a monster season in which he hit 30 home runs and
had 87 RBIs, will get plenty of at-bats. But Melvin loves the chance to
bring him off the bench when the game's on the line, where Clark usually
   DaVanon could challenge Byrnes for the starting job in center and will be
used often for his defense and ability to get on base. Easley will back up
Counsell at short and can play right field as well. Green, the reigning MVP
of the Pacific Coast League, can play second, third and left field, although
he also played shortstop and center at Triple-A Tucson.
   ROOKIE WATCH: 1B Conor Jackson has eased in nicely and was crushing the
ball to all fields and showing no glaring deficiencies in the field. RF
Carlos Quentin has shown amazing presence at the plate with his patience and
ability to produce even in poor pitch-count situations. He's ready for major
league pitching and won't stay in Triple-A Tucson for long.
   MEDICAL WATCH: SS Craig Counsell is playing with a "SLAP" tear to the
labrum in his right shoulder, which forced him to miss about three weeks of
camp. So far, it hasn't affected his hitting, but time will tell how much it
affects his throwing in the field. UT Damion Easley has been bothered by
tendinitis in his right elbow, but it isn't thought to be a long-term
problem. CF Chris Young, earmarked to start the year in Triple-A Tucson,
spent most of spring recovering from surgery to repair a broken bone in his
right hand. RHP Brandon Medders has been limited to bullpen sessions on the
side because of a spring-long problem with a muscle group strain below his
right shoulder. He could start the season on the 15-day disabled list.


   In their final roster decision, the Rockies chose catcher Miguel Ojeda
over JD Closser to back up at that position and put Yorvit Torrealba on the
disabled list. Danny Ardoin is the Rockies' starting catcher.
   Unlike Closser, Ojeda is out of options, which means the Rockies will
have try to get him through waivers if they want to send him back to the
minors after Torrealba returns. However, indications are Torrealba will be
out for an extended period.
   Torrealba has been dealing with tightness in his shoulder for most of
spring training, the residue of lifting weights over the winter with an eye
solely on gaining strength with little concern for maintaining flexibility.
In addition, Torrealba was recently hit in virtually the same spot in his
right biceps four times with foul balls in less than a week. He is scheduled
to undergo an MRI exam Monday in Denver.
   If there is no structural damage, manager Clint Hurdle said, "We're just
going to shut him down from throwing for a period of time, probably a week,
then we'll get him back on a throwing program. We'll get his strength built
back up. He'll throw long, he'll throw the bases, as we work into it. And
then we'll get him out on a (minor league) rehab where he's going to catch.
   "He's going to be a welcome addition to our club. He'll just be later
than earlier."

   --The Rockies will be trying to set a franchise record and win for the
third consecutive time on Opening Day. The Rockies are 7-6 on Opening Day
and 3-1 when they have started the season in Denver. This will be just the
second time in franchise history that the Rockies have opened two
consecutive seasons in Denver. They did it in 1994 and 1995, the latter
being the first season at Coors Field and a delayed start because of the
players' strike.
   The Rockies are 2-0 on Opening Day against Arizona, winning both games in
Phoenix. In 1998, the Rockies won 9-2 in the first game in Diamondbacks
franchise history, and in 2004, the Rockies won 6-2.
   The other times the Rockies opened consecutive seasons with a victory
were 1995-1996, 1998-1999 (in the latter year, the Rockies were the visiting
team and opened with a win against San Diego in Monterrey, Mexico) and
   --RHP Sun-Woo Kim recovered enough from a sore right hamstring to make
his Cactus League debut with one scoreless inning Saturday and solidify his
role as a long reliever. However, RHP Byung-Hyun Kim, who had been projected
to be the fourth starter, will not return soon after opening the season on
the disabled list with a strained right hamstring.
   Trainer Keith Dugger said Byung-Hyun Kim's hamstring injury is in the
gluteus, which typically requires three weeks' rest before a pitcher even
attempts to pitch in a simulated game.
   --RHP Jason Jennings will tie a franchise record when he makes his second
Opening Day start. In addition to Jennings, who also drew that assignment in
2003, Rockies pitchers with two Opening Day starts include Kevin Ritz
(1996-1997), Darryl Kile (1998-1999) and Mike Hampton (2001-2002).
   Jennings is intent on reversing history and avoiding digging out of an
April hole. He's 6-11 with a 6.32 ERA in 21 April starts, which includes
Opening Night at Houston on April 1, 2003, when he gave up eight runs and
never retired a batter in the fifth inning.
   That start, however, was by default. While Jennings had won the NL Rookie
of the Year Award in 2002, he was scheduled to pitch the Rockies' home
opener in 2003, but Denny Neagle, who was scheduled to start the first game
of the season, wound up on the disabled list.
   "I've got a lot more experience since '03," Jennings said. "I'm just more
comfortable with the team. I was still a young guy; I was a real young guy.
It was (the beginning of) my second full season (in the majors) when I had
the first Opening Day (start)."
   --3B Garrett Atkins will be the sixth player in the past six years to
start at that position Opening Day. He was supposed to start last year but
suffered a right hamstring injury in an exhibition game at Triple-A Colorado
Springs two days before Opening Day, and Jeff Baker took his place at third
base. Others to start at that position on Opening Day were Vinny Castilla in
2004, Chris Stynes (2003), Todd Zeile (2002) and Jeff Cirillo (2001).
Cirillo also began the season at third base in 2000.
   --Seven players will open the season on the disabled list, a franchise
record, surpassing the previous high of five in 1996, 2003 and 2005. RHPs
Scott Dohmann and Byung-Hyun Kim, C Yorvit Torrealba, OF Jorge Piedra and 1B
Ryan Shealy are on the 15-day disabled list. RHP Chin-hui Tsao and INF Josh
Wilson are on the 60-day disabled list.
   BY THE NUMBERS: 2.11 -- Jaime Cerda's spring training ERA, which is good.
   9 -- Jaime Cerda's spring training walks, in only 11 2/3 innings -- which
is definitely not good.
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was a gut feeling on my part." -- Manager Clint Hurdle
on why he chose LHP Tom Martin for the final bullpen spot.

   The Rockies will open the season without a new face in the stating
rotation or lineup. They will go into Year II of the youth movement giving
the inexperienced players of a year ago a chance to build off their first
   1. RHP Jason Jennings
   2. RHP Aaron Cook
   3. LHP Jeff Francis
   4. RHP Zach Day
   5. RHP Josh Fogg
   Byung-Hyun Kim will open the season on the disabled list, leaving the
bottom two spots as major questions. Day struggled all spring trying to find
his sinker. Day and Fogg will get the edge on Sun-Woo Kim, who can work in
relief. Miguel Asencio pitched well in the spring, but elbow surgery limited
him to four appearances the last two years and the Rockies want him to get
regular work in the minors.
   LHP Brian Fuentes (closer)
   RHP Jose Mesa
   LHP Ray King
   RHP Mike DeJean
   RHP David Cortes
   RHP Sun-Woo Kim
   LHP Jaime Cerda
   The Rockies have experienced relievers this year. A year ago they opened
with five rookies in the bullpen, and struggled until reworking the
relievers. This year they won't have a rookie.
   The Rockies have some depth with LHP Tom Martin, and RHPs Scott Dohmann
and Nate Field also possibilities. Chin-hui Tsao, the projected closer a
year ago, is targeted to be back in June after undergoing elbow surgery.
   1. CF Cory Sullivan
   2. SS Clint Barmes
   3. 1B Todd Helton
   4. LF Matt Holliday
   5. 3B Garrett Atkins
   6. RF Brad Hawpe
   7. 2B Luis Gonzalez
   8. C Danny Ardoin
   Sullivan and Barmes figure to switch spots occasionally. The key will be
if Holliday and Atkins can build off strong efforts they had producing runs
in the second half of the season, and if Hawpe can emerge as the anticipated
power threat.
   Hawpe, with Choo Freeman, could wind up in a platoon. Ardoin will share
time behind the plate with Yorvit Torrealba.
   C Miguel Ojeda
   C/1B/OF Eli Marrero
   INF/OF Jamey Carroll
   OF Choo Freeman
   INF Jason Smith
   Marrero provides great versatility for the Rockies. Not only can he be a
third catcher, but he plays all three outfield spots and gives the Rockies a
right-handed bat to fill in at first base on days that Todd Helton needs a
   ROOKIE WATCH: 3B Ian Stewart opened eyes in spring training with the
power of his bat and his solid defense. He doesn't figure to get to the big
leagues until September, though. He will start at Double-A Tulsa with the
idea that he could be promoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs by the middle of
the season. The Rockies don't have a true rookie that is expected to make
the team.
   MEDICAL WATCH: RHP Chin-hui Tsao underwent right elbow surgery last May.
He is on the 60-day disabled list, expected to be back in June. OF Jorge
Piedra was sidelined during the spring with plantar fasciitis in his left
heel. He also will open the season on the disabled list. RHP Byung-Hyun Kim
is sidelined with a hamstring strain. C Yorvit Torrealba hurt his shoulder
after lifting a lot of weights in the offseason, and he began the season on
the DL.


   Even as the Dodgers got good news on two injured players, they couldn't
escape the final days of preseason completely healthy.
   Shortstop Rafael Furcal recovered from the lower back strain he suffered
earlier in the week and was able to play against the Angels in the final
game of the Freeway Series on Sunday. He is expected to be in the Opening
Day lineup Monday against his former team, the Atlanta Braves.
   Outfielder Jose Cruz Jr. shook off lingering symptoms from a slight
concussion and played both Freeway Series games Saturday and Sunday. He will
also start Monday.
   Kenny Lofton, however, will start the season on the 15-day disabled list
with a strained left calf muscle. Lofton suffered cramping in the muscle
during pregame warmups Thursday in Las Vegas, and the Dodgers did not want
to take chances with the 38-year-old's legs, particularly with the threat of
cold weather in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (where the team will play seven
of its first 10 games this season).
   "We don't want to gamble with that," Dodgers manager Grady Little said.
"We'd rather give up 10 days now rather than risk a couple months later."
   The DL move with Lofton means Cody Ross makes the Dodgers' roster
temporarily. Ross was out of options and could not be sent to the minors
without passing through waivers. Jason Repko will start in center field on
Opening Day, but Little said he would determine the makeup of his outfield
on a daily basis based on matchups with the opposing team and pitcher.
   REPLAY: The Dodgers broke an obscure franchise record with their fifth
tie of the spring Saturday, a 0-0, 10-inning affair in the second game of
the preseason Freeway Series against the Angels.
   In Sunday's preseason finale, the Dodgers managed just three hits in a
4-2 loss to the Angels. Third baseman Bill Mueller was hit in the ankle by a
pitch and left the game, though it is not believed to be serious. Starter
Brett Tomko gave up three unearned runs when Juan Rivera hit a three-run
home run following an error by second baseman Sergio Garcia.

   --The Dodgers optioned C Russell Martin and INF Oscar Robles to Triple-A
and officially placed OF Jayson Werth on the disabled list to set their
season-opening roster. Robles' fate was decided when SS Rafael Furcal
recovered from a lower back strain. With Furcal back in the lineup, the
Dodgers opted to go with veteran INF Ramon Martinez as their lone utility
   --RHP Aaron Sele has agreed to accept the Dodgers' assignment to
Triple-A. A non-roster invitee this spring, Sele took a few days to consult
with his family before making the decision. His agent, Adam Katz, is
negotiating with the Dodgers for a provision that would allow Sele to leave
if a major league job opens up in another organization.
   --Dodgers manager Grady Little announced his Opening Day lineup on
Sunday. Against the Atlanta Braves on Monday, the Dodgers will go with SS
Rafael Furcal, LF Jose Cruz Jr., RF J.D. Drew, 2B Jeff Kent, 1B Nomar
Garciaparra, 3B Bill Mueller, C Sandy Alomar Jr., CF Jason Repko and RHP
Derek Lowe.
   --C Sandy Alomar Jr. will get the Opening Day start ahead of young C
Dioner Navarro because Dodgers manager Grady Little likes the idea of the
veteran's steady hand in the amped atmosphere of Opening Day. Alomar will
also start the third game of the opening series against the Atlanta Braves
though Little said he hopes to limit the 39-year-old Alomar to starting
20-25 percent of the Dodgers games. Most of those starts could come in a
"personal-catcher" relationship with Odalis Perez, Little said.
   --SS Rafael Furcal's lower back injury improved enough for him to play in
Sunday's final Freeway Series game against the Angels. Furcal went 0 for 3
and is scheduled to be in the Opening Day lineup on Monday.
   BY THE NUMBERS: 15-10-3 -- Dodgers' Grapefruit League record this spring,
their first winning spring record since 2001.
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think we are the poster child for a team that needs to
stay healthy. Every team says that. But to me, that's everything for us." --
RHP Derek Lowe on the Dodgers' prospects in 2006.

   The Dodgers had an uneventful spring -- just what they hoped for. Health
issues were prominent coming into spring, but nearly all of the news has
been good. J.D. Drew, Eric Gagne, Rafael Furcal and Jeff Kent all seem fully
recovered from offseason surgeries and will be ready to go on Opening Day.
Even SS Cesar Izturis (projected out until after the All-Star break) is
ahead of pace in his recovery from "Tommy John" surgery on his right elbow.
With a weak field in the NL West, the Dodgers are counting on a return to
health this season being enough to push them to the top of the division.
   1. RHP Derek Lowe
   2. RHP Brad Penny
   3. LHP Odalis Perez
   4. RHP Brett Tomko
   5. RHP Jae-Weong Seo
   The Dodgers let RHP Jeff Weaver leave via free agency even though he led
the team in victories, innings and strikeouts last season. But GM Ned
Colletti compensated by putting together a rotation of five pitchers all
capable of pitching more than 200 innings. The Dodgers have particularly
high hopes for Brad Penny, who enters this season healthy, and Derek Lowe,
who was a 20-game winner for new Dodgers manager Grady Little in Boston
(2002). Jae Seo's performance in the World Baseball Classic (one run allowed
in 14 innings) is also a good sign that his late season surge in 2005 (6-1,
2.74 ERA in final 11 starts for the Mets) wasn't a fluke.
   If any of the Dodgers' starting five fall victim to injury or simply
falter, the Dodgers won't wait long to call up top prospect RHP Chad
Billingsley. Just 21, Billingsley was obviously overthrowing at times during
his first big-league spring camp, but the Dodgers remain high on his
potential. Billingsley will get his feet wet at the Triple-A level for the
first time this season but might not be far away from a promotion to Los
   RHP Eric Gagne (closer)
   RHP Danys Baez
   RHP Lance Carter
   RHP Yhency Brazoban
   LHP Hong-Chih Kuo
   LHP Tim Hamulack
   RHP Franquelis Osoria
   The Dodgers' bullpen immediately becomes one of the best in baseball if
RHP Eric Gagne has fully recovered from elbow surgery last June and regains
the dominant form he had during his first three seasons as closer (2002-04).
Danys Baez was acquired as a fallback position if that isn't the case but
becomes a bullpen-lengthening, game-shortening setup man if Gagne is back to
form. Yhency Brazoban has been erratic this spring, showing little sign that
he has learned from last season's failure as Gagne's fill-in. Lance Carter
could take innings away from him.
   The Dodgers' depth in young bullpen arms was evident this spring. LHP
Hong-Chih Kuo and Franquelis Osoria pitched their way into the picture with
hard-throwing Jonathan Broxton not far behind. Osoria, in particular, caught
Grady Little's attention with a heavy, groundball-inducing sinker.
   1. SS Rafael Furcal
   2. LF Jose Cruz Jr.
   3. RF J.D. Drew
   4. 2B Jeff Kent
   5. 1B Nomar Garciaparra
   6. 3B Bill Mueller
   7. C Dioner Navarro
   8. CF Jason Repko
   GM Ned Colletti reconstructed the Dodgers' lineup from the top down this
winter, signing Rafael Furcal and Kenny Lofton (currently on the disabled
list) to be table-setters and Nomar Garciaparra and Bill Mueller to give
Jeff Kent backup. Mueller, in particular, looks like the kind of
professional hitter who was sorely lacking from the Dodgers' lineup in 2005.
   Flanking Kent in the lineup, J.D. Drew and Garciaparra could transform
the Dodgers' offense into something playoff-caliber if they are able to
return to health. Drew played a career-low 72 games in 2005, his first with
the Dodgers, but was an MVP candidate in 2004 when he hit .305 with 31 home
runs and 93 RBIs for the Braves.
   Colletti has shopped for a new left fielder who would add another bat to
the Dodgers' lineup (and make Cruz a valuable bench piece as the fourth
outfielder). But the Dodgers will most likely have to make do as is until
some of their top young prospects (Joel Guzman, mainly) arrive.
   C Sandy Alomar Jr.
   INF Olmedo Saenz
   INF Ramon Martinez
   OF Ricky Ledee
   OF Cody Ross
   The Dodgers' bench will be better in 2006 than last season if the players
who belong there stay there -- unlike 2005, when injuries to front-line
players meant overexpanded roles for bench players like Saenz and Ledee.
Those two give the Dodgers a strong right-left pinch-hitting punch.
   The real added depth for this year, though, will be located in Triple-A.
When injuries hit last season, the Dodgers had little in the way of
replacements ready in the minor leagues. Now a group of highly regarded
prospects (Joel Guzman, Andy LaRoche, James Loney, Russell Martin, Andre
Ethier, Chad Billingsley) will be just a step away in Triple-A, gathering
at-bats and developing. If injuries riddle the major league roster again in
2006, the Dodgers will turn to those players.
   ROOKIE WATCH: OF Joel Guzman was moved from shortstop to left field and
made a run at jumping from Double-A to the majors this spring. C Russell
Martin lost out in competition with Dioner Navarro for the big-league job
but looks as if he will be a better player in the long run. RHP Chad
Billingsley will get his feet wet in Triple-A this season -- but probably
not for long. 1B James Loney is exceptional defensively but has also
progressed at the plate and could be a fallback option if Nomar
Garciaparra's conversion to first base doesn't work out.
   MEDICAL WATCH: 2B Jeff Kent underwent right wrist surgery on Jan. 10 but
will be ready for Opening Day. SS Rafael Furcal underwent arthroscopic right
knee surgery on Jan. 11 and was limited early in spring training. Later, he
developed an annular strain in his lower back. But he will be ready for
Opening Day. RHP Eric Gagne (elbow) and LHP Kelly Wunsch (hip and ankle)
have recovered fully from surgeries last year. OF J.D. Drew (right shoulder
and wrist) is still rebuilding arm strength from shoulder surgery but will
open the season in the starting lineup. C Dioner Navarro suffered a strained
right hamstring on March 15 but is expected to recover in time for Opening
Day. OF Jayson Werth had wrist surgery in November, and the pins were
removed in January. He is not expected back until May at the earliest. SS
Cesar Izturis had "Tommy John" ligament-replacement surgery on his right
elbow in September. The early prognosis was that he would not return until
after the All-Star break, but Izturis' recovery is well ahead of schedule.
CF Kenny Lofton has a strained calf muscle and will begin the season on the


   The Padres have lost center fielder Mike Cameron two weeks to a month
with a strained left oblique muscle.
   Cameron suffered the injury Friday evening in Las Vegas while taking
batting practice before the Padres' penultimate exhibition game of the
spring against the Cubs.
   "The whole thing is getting out of spring training without getting hurt,"
said Cameron, who is one of the key players for the Padres this season.
"This is not good."
   Cameron, whom the Padres acquired from the Mets last winter in a trade
for Xavier Nady, hit .354 this spring and showed no ill affects from the
facial fractures he suffered last Aug. 11 in an outfield collision with then
Mets teammate Carlos Beltran at San Diego's Petco Park.
   "This is one of the most critical parts of the body," Cameron said.
"There is a lot of torque. All I can do is wait."
   With Cameron on the disabled list, Ben Johnson made the Opening Day
roster as the Padres fourth outfielder.
   Dave Roberts will move from left back to center, with left-handed hitter
Terrmel Sledge expected to get most of the starts in left against
right-handed pitchers while platooning with Eric Young and Johnson. Johnson
and right fielder Brian Giles will become Roberts' backups in center.
   "This is really sad," said Roberts. "You come all this way to assemble a
team, and Mike's such a huge part of that. To lose him for any amount of
time is disheartening."
   "How said is that?" veteran utility man Eric Young said of Cameron's
injury. "He looked so good."
   REPLAY: RHP Chris Young, who had struggled with an 11.40 ERA in his first
five spring outings, allowed three runs (two earned) on four singles in five
innings against the Cubs Friday night in his best outing of the spring.
   "That was the best I've felt this spring," said the 6-foot-10 Young, who
is the No. 3 pitcher in the Padres rotation. "I was throwing the ball where
I wanted. It's still not perfect, but I feel things are starting to come

   --CF Mike Cameron (strained left oblique), 1B Ryan Klesko (left shoulder
strain) and RHP Doug Brocail (who had an angioplasty March 11) were placed
on the 15-day disabled list as the Padres set their Opening Day roster.
   --Cameron's loss gave OF Ben Johnson a spot on the roster.
   --Dave Roberts will move from LF to CF to replace Cameron in the
defensive lineup with the left-handed hitting Terrmel Sledge expected to
platoon with right-handed hitters Eric Young and Johnson in left. Johnson
and Young can also play second.
   --Cameron was expected to hit second in the Padres order. Sledge will
likely hit there against right-handed pitchers until Cameron returns, with
SS Khalil Greene or Young hitting in that slot against RHPs.
   --With RHP Dewon Brazelton winning the No. 4 spot in the rotation --
behind RHP Jake Peavy, LHP Shawn Estes and RHP Chris Young -- veteran
right-handed starters Woody Williams and Chan Ho Park will open the season
in the bullpen. The Padres won't need a fifth starter until around April 10.
   --The final spots in the Padres bullpen went to RHPs Scott Cassidy and
Brian Sweeney. The Padres will open the season with 12 pitchers, which means
an eight-man bullpen.
   BY THE NUMBERS: $15 million -- Dollars guaranteed RHPs Chan Ho Park ($10)
and Woody Williams, who have been demoted from the starting rotation to the
   23 -- Age of two Padres Opening Day starters, 1B Adrian Gonzalez and 2B
John Barfield.
   8 -- Pitchers who could be in the Padres bullpen for the first two weeks
of the season.
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's kind of funny. Maybe I showed them something I
didn't want them to see." -- RHP Chan Ho Park after being demoted to the
Padres bullpen on how he had two saves while working three games as South
Korea's closer in the World Baseball Classic.

   Dewon Brazelton has won the fourth spot in the Padres rotation, meaning
both Woody Williams and Chan Ho Park will be in the bullpen until the Padres
need a fifth starter around April 15. The Padres are still very concerned
about the state of their rotation and bullpen (Padres 6.35 ERA this spring
was the worst in the major leagues by more than a half a run). The outfield
looks much improved both offensively and defensively. Rookie 2B Josh
Barfield has been the biggest hit of the exhibition season. 1B Ryan Klesko
will likely open the season on the disabled list due to an injury in his
left shoulder.
   1. RHP Jake Peavy
   2. LHP Shawn Estes
   3. RHP Chris Young
   4. RHP Dewon Brazelton
   Peavy set at the top and could be ready at 24 to break into the national
spotlight. After that, it's a crapshoot. Estes missed the end of last season
with a stress fracture of his left ankle.
   RHP Trevor Hoffman
   RHP Scott Linebrink
   RHP Clay Hensley
   LHP Alan Embree
   RHP Woody Williams
   RHP Chan Ho Park
   RHP Scott Cassidy
   RHP Brian Sweeney
   The loss of veteran RHP Doug Brocail because of an emergency angioplasty
upset the Padres' projections. Aside from that loss, however, is the fact
that no one -- from potential future Hall of Famer Hoffman to entrenched
setup men Linebrink and Hensley to candidates -- pitched well this spring.
   Hoffman, 38, needs 43 saves to pass Lee Smith as the game's all-time
leader in that category.
   1. CF Dave Roberts
   2. LF Terrmel Sledge
   3. RF Brian Giles
   4. C Mike Piazza
   5. 3B Vinny Castilla
   6. 1B Adrian Gonzalez
   7. SS Khalil Greene
   8. 2B Josh Barfield
   The Padres have a lot riding on Piazza being able to catch close to 100
games and batting fourth. The loss of CF Mike Cameron (strained oblique)
threw the lineup into disarray.
   C Doug Mirabelli
   INF Geoff Blum
   INF Mark Bellhorn
   2B/OF Eric Young
   OF Ben Johnson
   The bench carried the Padres through most of 2005. Both Blum and Bellhorn
are switch-hitters who can also play first base. Young is the clubhouse
leader. The trade of David Ross to Cincinnati ended the speculation that the
Padres would keep a third catcher. Padres pride themselves on their bench
and the way manager Bruce Bochy uses the bench. With Ryan Klesko sidelined
at least for the start of the season, Mirabelli has also been taking
grounders at first.
   ROOKIE WATCH: Josh Barfield took the second base job away from veteran
Bellhorn with a spring that kept raising expectations. The 23-year-old son
of former major league outfielder Jesse Barfield hit .308 with 15 homers and
72 RBI with Triple-A Portland last year. Padres had believed that Barfield
might need to start this season in Portland. He won the job with his bat as
well as glove. Ben Johnson would get the nod over injury-plagued Terrmel
   MEDICAL WATCH: RHP Doug Brocail is lost for an indeterminate amount of
time following an emergency angioplasty three weeks ago, although he is now
talking about a late April or May return. 1B Ryan Klesko will likely open
the season on the disabled list with an ailing left shoulder. The shoulder
did not respond to a cortisone shot last weekend. OF Terrmel Sledge, who
lost of most of last season with a severe hamstring tear, has suffered both
a strained left calf and sprained left ankle this spring. LHP Shawn Estes
shows no problems with the stress fracture of the left ankle that forced him
to miss the last two months of the 2005 season. CF Mike Cameron strained an
oblique at the end of the exhibition season and will be out for at least two


   Barry Bonds vs. Jake Peavy. What a matchup for Monday's season opener
between the Giants and Padres in San Diego.
   Peavy, in many ways, likes to challenge Bonds, who hit his 700th career
homer off Peavy.
   Former Padre Mark Sweeney called Peavy one of the few pitchers who will
go after Bonds, and that's true, but only to an extent. Bonds is 5-for-20
off Peavy with three homers, but Peavy also has issued 11 walks to Bonds.
   In any event, Bonds likes the challenge.
   "Peavy's a great guy. I love him to death," Bonds said. "I have the most
respect for that guy in the world. Me and him are like this (holding two
fingers together)."
   No matter what happens in the opener, the Giants are flat-out glad that
Bonds can play this year after appearing in only 14 games in 2004.
   "It's a big difference," manager Felipe Alou said. "It gives me a lot of

   --LF Barry Bonds declared himself ready to go for the 2006 season after
going 1-for-2 as a DH Sunday. He played the last two games of the exhibition
season (Saturday in left field, 0-for-4) and is slated to play left in
Monday's opener in San Diego. "I didn't play as much as I would've liked to
play, but I played enough to be able to go through it," Bonds said of his
spring training, in which he hit .478 with four homers.
   --RHP Armando Benitez is on the DL with left knee bursitis, and the
Giants are back to where they were in 2005, when Benitez missed most of the
season with a hamstring ailment. In his place, the Giants are leaning toward
RHP Tim Worrell, who saved 38 games for the 2003 Giants before playing
elsewhere in 2004 and 2005. "Right now, I can't do my job like this,"
Benitez said. "When I come in the game, I've got to have my command. Right
now, no. I don't have my stuff. I need a couple of weeks."
   --RHP Jeremy Accardo will take injured RHP Armando Benitez's roster spot.
The other option for the final bullpen spot was RHP Kevin Correia, but the
Giants want Correia (2.25 ERA in six games) to be a starter at Triple-A
   --RHP Jason Schmidt will start the Giants' opener for the second straight
year. He beat the Dodgers last year and is entering this season with the
right momentum. In spring training, he was 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA.
   --RHP Jamey Wright allowed five runs in six innings in the Giants'
spring-training finale. "It's the best I've felt in the spring," Wright
said. "Best I've thrown, too. I'm not happy about the runs, but I thought I
was right there."
   BY THE NUMBERS: 266-219 -- Felipe Alou's record in three seasons as the
Giants' manager. He had a sub-.500 mark in his previous managing gig in
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "You understand as you watch him pitch what he's been able
to put together in his career. He's good at making adjustments. He can pitch
off his fastball, behind in the count with off-speed stuff and early in the
count with breaking stuff. He can adjust to just about every situation." --
GM Brian Sabean on new Giants starter Matt Morris.

   Other than all the controversies swirling around Barry Bonds, the Giants
have had a mostly quiet camp. Armando Benitez had an inflamed left knee, and
Bonds remained careful with his right knee while sustaining a strained left
elbow. But otherwise, the focus was on getting the older players in shape
and examining other players vying for roster spots. The No. 5 rotation job
and No. 5 outfield spot were up for grabs. Jamey Wright is the final pitcher
and it seems Jason Ellison will be the final outfielder.
   1. RHP Jason Schmidt
   2. RHP Matt Morris
   3. LHP Noah Lowry
   4. RHP Matt Cain
   5. RHP Jamey Wright
   Only two starters have serious time in the majors, and there is little
concern with Schmidt and Morris. Lowry is coming off his first full season,
and Cain has only seven big-league appearances to his name.
   RHP Tim Worrell (closer)
   LHP Steve Kline
   RHP Scott Munter
   LHP Jack Taschner
   RHP Tyler Walker
   LHP Jeff Fassero
   RHP Jeremy Accardo
   The biggest concern is Benitez, who has been slowed in spring training
with a knee ailment and last year was on the DL from April 27 to Aug. 15,
requiring major hamstring surgery.
   The most successful reliever, Scott Eyre, was replaced by another lefty,
Kline, and Worrell takes over for LaTroy Hawkins. Munter and Taschner shined
as rookies last year and now have secure jobs. Fassero was re-signed despite
being 43, old even for this team.
   1. CF Randy Winn
   2. SS Omar Vizquel
   3. 2B Ray Durham
   4. LF Barry Bonds
   5. RF Moises Alou
   6. 3B Pedro Feliz
   7. 1B Lance Niekro
   8. C Mike Matheny
   How Bonds goes, so goes the offense. Bonds missed most of last season,
and the Giants finished with a losing record for the first time since 1996.
The Giants hope he can play 120 games (he played 14 last year), and that
would help immensely.
   Without Bonds, the lineup isn't nearly as scary, but the Giants hope
there are enough battle-tested veterans -- Vizquel, Durham, Alou, Matheny --
to get by. It'll be Niekro's first year as an everyday player and Feliz's
first year in which he'll have a job all to his own.
   OF Steve Finley
   INF Jose Vizcaino
   1B Mark Sweeney
   C Todd Greene
   OF Jason Ellison
   Again, lots of older guys, and management looks at that as a plus, not a
minus. The only youth would be Ellison. Everyone else is a newcomer to the
   Sweeney hasn't had much time in the outfield and will be used primarily
as a backup first baseman and pinch hitter. For now, Vizcaino appears to be
the only backup at second, short and third. Greene was acquired late in the
offseason because management wasn't confident to use a minor-league as the
No. 2 catcher.
   ROOKIE WATCH: Matt Cain is a rookie, still. He started seven games last
year to earn a spot in this year's rotation. Now 21, Cain has the nastiest
stuff on the staff and might be a No. 1 starter within a year or two. He was
2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in August and September. No other rookie is expected to
make the roster, though spring training showed the Giants are deep in second
basemen: Kevin Frandsen and Derin McMains. Frandsen is expected to be in the
majors by 2007.
   MEDICAL WATCH: LF Barry Bonds has been limited in spring training after
undergoing three right knee surgeries in 2005, but he's further ahead than
last spring, when he didn't play a single game. Bonds missed five straight
games in late March with a strained left elbow. 2B Ray Durham missed time
late in training camp with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. RHP Armando
Benitez has a sore knee and will begin the year on the disabled list. Recommended Stories

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