Inside Pitch

2013-02-23T00:00:00Z Inside Pitch Arizona Daily Star
February 23, 2013 12:00 am

Cactus League

• Rookie Jedd Gyorko hopes to become the second baseman for the Padres on opening day. A grand slam in the first game of spring training can only help his cause. Gyorko homered over the left-center field fence during a six-run first inning Friday and the Padres beat the Seattle Mariners 9-3. This spring training has a different feel for the 24-year-old, a top prospect who spent part of last season with the Triple-A Tucson Padres. "Last year was my first time, I didn't really know anybody so obviously I was trying to introduce myself more than try to work and get better," Gyorko said.

• The Mariners announced the signing of four players, including Tucson High School graduate Tom Wilhelmsen, to one-year contracts. Wilhelmsen projects as the team's closer.

• Rangers president Nolan Ryan expects the team to be very competitive even after the departures of Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli following a season without a playoff victory. The Hall of Fame pitcher, going into his sixth season as the Rangers president, says he feels like the team was emotionally and physically drained going down the stretch in 2012.

• Ryan Vogelsong is set to start the

spring training opener for the champion Giants, followed in the rotation by Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. Manager Bruce Bochy said Friday that Tim Lincecum will pitch the fourth game and Barry Zito will start after that. The Giants begin the exhibition play today.

• Former major league infielder Josh Booty has won a reality television show by throwing the best knuckleball, and will go to spring training with the Diamondbacks. Booty reported to camp Friday with a non-roster invitation. The show on the MLB Network was called "The Next Knuckler." The 37-year-old Booty played 13 games for the Marlins from 1996-98. He also played quarterback at LSU. Booty was among five former college quarterbacks in the competition. His brother, John David Booty, was joined by Doug Flutie, David Greene and Ryan Perrilloux.

Grapefruit League

• Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez passed the drug test MLB administered to him in late January, Gonzalez said Friday at Nationals spring training. The MLB Players Association informed Gonzalez Friday that the tests on his blood and urine had returned negative, Gonzalez said. On Jan. 31, two days after a report in the Miami New Times connected him to performance-enhancing drugs purchased from the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, MLB sent investigators to his home to drug test him. "Like I said before, I've never taken performance-enhancing drugs and I never will," Gonzalez said.

• Phillies second baseman Chase Utley played in a five-inning intrasquad game, his first spring game since 2010. He struck out and walked in two plate appearances. Utley, who has battled chronic knee pain in each of the last two years, will start at second base again today vs. Houston. He is expected to get Sunday off.

• Yankees closer Mariano Rivera threw 25 pitches in his first batting practice session since knee surgery last year and said he was happy with the results. Rivera was limited to nine games last year, his season ending when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while tracking down a fly ball during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3. He had surgery to repair the injury on June 12.

The Associated Press

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