MLB inside pitch

2013-02-28T00:00:00Z MLB inside pitchThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Cactus League

• Lance Berkman is ready to take some swings in a spring training game for the Texas Rangers. Berkman, who has been bothered by a mild right calf strain, is set to make his Rangers spring debut today. "You need some at-bats to kind of get a good gauge of where you are with your spring," Berkman said Wednesday. "From a practice standpoint, I feel pretty good. But there's certainly work to do and I'm sure I'll find that out (today), just where I'm at, just in terms of timing and bat speed and all of that."

• The Rangers may need to take another name into consideration when trying to determine their fifth starter: Colby Lewis. While the veteran right-hander will miss the start of the season still recovering from elbow surgery, Lewis will have a rotation spot when he's back - and that could be sooner than expected. If that happens, whoever starts the season in the No. 5 spot could end up being a temporary fill-in. Lewis is scheduled to throw off a full mound for the first time in seven months Friday.

• One of the base-running sausages, a familiar sight at Milwaukee Brewers games, is missing. Someone wearing the Klement's Racing Italian Sausage costume recently posed with bar patrons in Cedarburg, Wis. The 7-foot-long, $3,000 costume was in a backroom at the Milwaukee Curling Club during a Feb. 16 fundraiser. Someone saw the sausage walk out the door that evening and it hasn't been seen since.

• Conor Gillaspie is getting off to a quick spring training start with the Chicago White Sox. The newly acquired Gillaspie homered off Collin Balester in the sixth inning, helping the White Sox beat Texas 8-4 Wednesday and drop the Rangers to 0-5 in spring training. Obtained Friday from San Francisco for minor league pitcher Jeff Soptic, Gillaspie had four RBIs on Tuesday against the Rangers. "He's not waiting around," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, a former left-handed-hitting third baseman who likes how Gillaspie sprays the ball to all fields. "He's an aggressive kid, and a tough-minded kid, too."

• The Chicago Cubs' Starlin Castro left in the bottom of the fourth inning after pulling up on a ground ball to shortstop Wednesday during an 11-7 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cubs said their shortstop had left hamstring tightness and will be evaluated.

• Ryan Vogelsong threw three more scoreless innings and the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Angels played to an 8-all tie Wednesday. The game was called after nine innings. Angels utilityman Bill Hall left in the third after charging a ball at third base, exiting because of tightness in his right quadriceps. He drove in four runs the previous day. Vogelsong, 14-9 with a 3.37 ERA with the Giants last year, allowed a leadoff single to Mike Trout in the first and nothing else. He struck out four.

Grapefruit League

• Top Mets pitching prospect Zack Wheeler was scratched from his start against the St. Louis Cardinals because of a mild oblique strain. General manager Sandy Alderson said the hard-throwing right-hander was injured swinging a bat in the cage. The 22-year-old Wheeler says the side muscle was stiff, and he doesn't believe it's anything serious.

• Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has left the team for a few days to return to the Dominican Republic for a personal matter. Before Wednesday night's game against the Baltimore Orioles, Boston manager John Farrell said that Ortiz, who has yet to play this spring training, should be back by Friday. Farrell declined to say what Ortiz's personal matter was.

• Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks left Wednesday night's game against Baltimore in the first inning because of a sore right wrist. Middlebrooks, who broke his right wrist on Aug. 10, 2012, grimaced after swinging at Chris Tillman's first pitch of the at-bat. He was removed and replaced by Pedro Ciriaco. The Red Sox said that Middlebrooks would be evaluated today.

• Dan Haren allowed a run over two sharp innings in his debut with the Washington Nationals, but Nathan Eovaldi pitched two hitless innings in his first start to lead the Miami Marlins to a 5-1 victory on Wednesday.

• NL Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper of Washington cooled off some Wednesday, going 0 for 2 for the Nationals. He had three hits Tuesday and is 6 for 10 to start spring training.

• Houston outfield prospect George Springer impressed during his first start in two big league spring training camps. Springer hit a three-run homer off Jeremy Jeffress in the fourth inning and a two-run drive against Claudio Vargas in the fifth, helping the Astros over Toronto 10-1.

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