MLB inside pitch

2013-03-02T00:00:00Z MLB inside pitchThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 02, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Cactus League

• Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford could miss his team's April 1 opener against San Francisco after leaving spring training to have his elbow examined in Los Angeles. Recovering from elbow ligament-replacement surgery on Aug. 23, Crawford felt nerve irritation in his left arm. The Dodgers said Friday he was examined a day earlier by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who prescribed anti-inflammatory medication and told Crawford to rest. Crawford was back in camp Friday and will not take batting practice or throw for about seven days, according to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

• Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz was cleared of more serious issues Friday after team doctors diagnosed a muscle strain in his chest. Assistant general manager Thad Levine said Cruz was sent to a hospital to rule out anything else. The Rangers later said in a statement that several tests were negative and Cruz was being released after a stress test, which general manager Jon Daniels said he passed. Cruz can resume baseball activities today. "I think our guys made the right call," Daniels said. "Better safe than sorry to have him checked out." The 32-year-old Cruz leads the Rangers with five RBIs this spring training, although he's hitting just .214. He played a career-high 159 games last season, hitting .260 with 24 home runs and 90 RBIs.

• Indians All-Star closer Chris Perez could be sidelined one month because of a strained shoulder. Perez, who saved 39 games last season, will not throw for the next week to 10 days. Once he resumes his program, the Indians estimate he will be pitching in games in three or four weeks.

• In a big-money Los Angeles matchup, Josh Hamilton hit his first home run in an Angels uniform, connecting off Hyun-Jin Ryu during the first inning of a 16-8 win over a Dodgers' split squad Friday. Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, left Texas to sign a $125 million, five-year deal with the Angels. He sent a drive to right on a full-count pitch.

• After a disappointing end last year, Carlos Gonzalez is hoping 2013 will start well for him. Gonzalez drove in his first three runs this spring with a homer and double, leading the Rockies over the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 on Friday. Gonzalez was 2 for 9 going into the game. He lined a two-run double in the third inning and homered off Ariel Pena in the fifth.

• Mark Prior is making yet another pitch to return to the big leagues. The 32-year-old Prior has signed a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds, marking the fourth straight spring the oft-injured righty has tried a comeback. Prior has not been in the majors since 2006. He pitched for Boston in Triple-A last season, making 19 relief appearances with a 3.96 ERA.

Grapefruit League

• Detroit ace Justin Verlander pitched three perfect innings Friday in the Tigers' 6-2 loss to the Mets. Verlander fanned three, including a three-pitch strikeout of Mets star David Wright, who never swung during the at-bat in the first inning. Mets starter Jonathon Niese threw three scoreless innings in his spring debut. He allowed three hits and struck out three.

• Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano says his contract status is on his mind, though not a distraction. Cano is due $15 million in the final season of what became a $57 million, six-year deal and is eligible for free agency after the World Series. A day after Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team had made a significant offer during the offseason to Cano's agent, Scott Boras, Cano declined to address the matter Friday but did say: "It's never going to go out of your head." "I don't want to be a distraction to the team," Cano added. "Just focus on playing baseball." He hit .313 with 33 homers and 94 RBIs last year but was 3 for 40 (.075) with no homers and four RBIs during the playoffs, including a postseason-record 0-for-29 skid.

• Joe Kelly opened his bid for a spot in the St. Louis Cardinals' starting rotation with two hitless innings, and Adron Chambers hit a three-run homer in Friday's 8-8 tie against the Houston Astros. Among three candidates to replace the injured Chris Carpenter in the Cards' rotation, Kelly walked one hitter in each inning.

• After concussions, back problems and right hip surgery limited Brian Roberts to 115 games over the past three seasons, the Baltimore Orioles are hoping he can regain his All-Star form. Roberts had a leadoff home run and two other hits, Nolan Reimold and Wilson Betemit connected for consecutive home runs and the Orioles beat a Pittsburgh Pirates' split squad 6-5 Friday. In 2012, Roberts made a comeback from his second concussion, but it was truncated after 17 games when his hip flared up. "I think everything from my standpoint right now is confidence-builders," Roberts said.

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