Spring Training roundup

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Royals hoping Jose Guillen can return to form
SURPRISE -- Jose Guillen arrived at spring training in Surprise in time for the Kansas City Royals' first full-squad workout on Tuesday.

The Royals are hoping Guillen can get back to his power-hitting ways after an injury-plagued 2009.

Guillen was limited to 81 games last season and needed ankle and lower back surgery after his final game on Sept. 2. After hitting 43 home runs with 196 RBIs in 2007-08, Guillen hit .242 with nine HRs and 40 RBIs last season.

With new additions Scott Podsednik (puh-SEHD'-nihk) and Rick Ankiel to the outfield, the plan is for Guillen to get the bulk of his at-bats as the designated hitter in 2010.

Other new faces for the Royals likely to start are second baseman Chris Getz and catcher Jason Kendall.
Scott Linebrink hopes to end reputation for late slumps

GLENDALE -- Scott Linebrink doesn't want to be stereotyped as only a first-half guy, but the White Sox reliever can't argue with the numbers over the past three years.

Since 2007, he has a combined 2.29 ERA in the first half of the season, only to see his post All-Star ERA climb to 7.04 over that same time.

While he admitted on Tuesday that it does look like a trend, Linebrink gave explanations for each of the past three years -- including the right shoulder injury that derailed him midway through the 2008 season.

There is a very specific plan in place for him this spring, with Linebrink and pitching coach Don Cooper getting on the same page.
A's lefty Lenny DiNardo out with left Achilles strain
PHOENIX -- Oakland Athletics left-hander Lenny DiNardo will miss a couple of days after straining his left Achilles tendon.

A's manager Bob Geren said Tuesday that the 30-year-old felt something while throwing a day earlier and will be held out of drills for the next two days.

DiNardo, who last won a major-league game in April 2008 while with the A's, signed a minor-league contract in January and was invited to spring training as a non-roster player.

He's spent parts of the past five seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Oakland and the Kansas City Royals.
Rangers 3B Michael Young still looking to improve
SURPRISE  -- With last year's position change behind him, Texas Rangers third baseman Michael Young is getting back to the normal routine of preparing for the season.

Young says he wants to improve in certain areas, but he's keeping those details to himself.

On the surface, little improvement seems necessary, given Young's success after shifting from shortstop to third base last season to make room for rookie Elvis Andrus.

Offensively, the 30-year-old was as solid as ever -- a .322 batting average, .892 OPS and 22 home runs in 135 games.

Defensively, he made only nine errors in 134 games at third base, tied with Alex Rodriguez for the lowest total among qualifying players.

Young was rewarded with his sixth consecutive All-Star selection.
Mariners get to work as position players report
PEORIA -- The Seattle Mariners are holding their first full team workout of spring training now at the team's Peoria complex, with every regular and starting rotation pitcher having reported.

Pitcher Cliff Lee took part in pitchers' fielding practice and is scheduled for his first bullpen session of spring training Wednesday. In a bit of a surprise move, the club had Chone Figgins, who figured to play third base, taking ground balls at second base, where Jose Lopez has long played.

Lopez worked at third base.

The Mariners have several new players this season, including Lee, infielders Figgins, Casey Kotchman and Ryan Garko and outfielders Eric Byrnes and Milton Bradley.
Jason Hammel gives Rockies rare depth in solid rotation
TUCSON -- The fifth starter in many major league rotations fills that role by default.

Not on the Colorado Rockies.

Jason Hammel is an asset rather than an afterthought, an indication of the depth of Colorado's rotation.

In addition to Hammel, the group includes right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who is expected to start on opening day.

After that, in an order to be determined, are left-hander Jeff Francis, right-hander Aaron Cook and lefty Jorge De La Rosa.Then comes Hammel.

The Rockies acquired him from Tampa Bay one day before the start of last season for minor league pitcher Aneury Rodriguez.
Scott Hairston paid attention to former teammates in 2009
PEORIA -- Although he was wearing an Oakland Athletics uniform in the second half of last season, Scott Hairston says he still felt an attachment to the San Diego Padres.

The outfielder was reacquired by the Padres on Jan. 16 in a four-player trade that sent third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff to Oakland, says he kept a close watch as San Diego finished 37-25 in 2009.

Hairston wants to help San Diego build on the momentum it gained while he was with the A's.

He's expected to split time between right field and center field this season

He combined to hit .265 with 17 homers and 64 RBIs for the Padres and A's.
Right-hander Homer Bailey glad the spotlight is elsewhere
GOODYEAR -- Homer Bailey is glad that he's no longer the center of attention in the Cincinnati Reds' camp in Goodyear.

Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman has gotten most of the attention during the first week of workouts. Bailey is blending in with the rest of the starters.

Bailey was the same age as Chapman -- 21 -- when he first got called up to the big leagues. He struggled for a couple years before settling in at the end of last season, going 6-1 in his last nine starts

He's expected to start the season in the rotation.

Changeup: Ramirez jokes about playing 5 more years

GLENDALE -- Manny Ramirez is having fun with those quirky comments about his future.

The enigmatic outfielder caused quite a stir Monday by saying this will be his last year with the Los Angeles Dodgers -- and possibly the final season of his career. He was so amused by all the attention his quotes received that he started throwing changeups Tuesday.

Ramirez playfully joked with two reporters in the clubhouse, saying that after he practiced Monday, he felt as though he could play five more years. He said he'd play three for the Dodgers and two more in Japan.

The 37-year-old Ramirez is heading into his 17th major league season.

The 2004 World Series MVP served a 50-game drug suspension last year and batted .290 with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs.
New Cubs owner Tom Ricketts addresses team
MESA -- New Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is at spring training in Arizona.

Ricketts addressed his team Tuesday before his team's first full-squad workout. He says told the players he and his family will be around and willing to listen.

Ricketts declined to address in detail the building of a new $84 million spring training facility for the team in the Mesa area. He said he planned to look at some prospective sites.

A legislative committee has approved a $1 surcharge on each auto rental in the Phoenix area and an 8 percent surcharge on tickets to all spring training games played in Maricopa County.

The tax on spring training tickets is opposed by some owners of other teams in the Cactus League, including the White Sox's Jerry Reinsdorf.

Ricketts says he's confident a solution can be reached that works for everyone.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)