Spring Training News and Notes from Cactus League teams

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By Natalie Rivers By Natalie Rivers

Guerrero will play some outfield for Texas Rangers
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) -- Vladimir Guerrero will do more than be the designated hitter for the Texas Rangers this eason.

Manager Ron Washington says he plans to use the slugger in right field from time to time because "we want to keep him happy."

The 35-year-old Guerrero comes to Texas after a six-year stint with the Los Angeles Angels, for whom he batted .319 and hit 173 home runs.

Last season, he was limited to just 100 games due to pectoral and knee muscle injuries and posted a .295 batting average -- his first sub-.300 season since debuting in a nine-game stint with Montreal in 1996.

He hit 15 homers and drove in 50 runs for the Angels.

He was on the field with the Rangers for the first time Wednesday.

Rangers' Hamilton bruises shoulder

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) -- Texas Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton left morning workouts Wednesday after bruising his shoulder.

Hamilton was diagnosed with a left shoulder contusion after he dived to catch a ball during a pop-up drill. No MRI is scheduled and the 29-year-old is listed as day-to-day.

Hamilton was limited to 89 games last year by an assortment of injuries including a strained rib cage muscle, artially torn abdominal muscle and pinched nerve in his lower back.

He hit .268 with 10 homers and 54 RBIs a year after hitting 32 home runs and leading the American League with 130 RBIs.

Brandon Wood set to take his shot at Angels camp

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- It certainly appears as though the time is right for Brandon Wood to step up for the Los Angeles Angels.

After putting up years of strong numbers in the minor leagues while the Angels front office resisted trade offers for him, Wood enters a new Angels camp unlike either of the other two he's attended.

To begin with, he's out of options and can't be sent back to Triple-A Salt Lake City for another season.

And with Chone (shahn) Figgins gone to Seattle via free agency, third base is open for the taking.

Guillen sends White Sox into twitter

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- He's already going to be a star in a reality series starting in July.

Now White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen (gee-EHN') has a Twitter account -- and his boss is not happy about it.

General manager Ken Williams, owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Guillen will shoot segments for the MLB Network reality show "The Club" this spring. That's prompted concerns about the talkative Guillen and his often salty language.

Now Guillen's got another forum on Twitter to express his never-shy opinions.

Guillen says his tweets will be personal ones and not a way to tell fans what's going on with the White Sox or a way to break news.

Indians, Branyan complete 1-year contract

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) -- Russell Branyan and the Indians have completed a one-year contract that brings the well-traveled and strikeout-prone bopper back to Cleveland, where he started his big league career.

The sides reached a preliminary agreement last week and finalized the deal Wednesday.

Branyan set career highs with 31 home runs and 76 RBIs for Seattle last season. He batted .251, but was limited to 116 games because of a back injury. He will be used primarily at first base and designated hitter in Cleveland.

The 34-year-old Branyan returns to the Indians after spending nearly nine seasons with the organization.

He was a seventh-round draft pick by Cleveland in 1994 and played for the Indians from 1998-2002.

Duchscherer returns to A's clubhouse

PHOENIX (AP) -- Oakland Athletics right-hander Justin Duchscherer was still a little groggy Wednesday, about 24 hours after undergoing a successful medical procedure in Phoenix to relieve discomfort in his lower back.

He said he still couldn't feel too much of anything and will rest the reminder of the day and come back ready to do whatever he can to get himself back on schedule.

A's manager Bob Geren indicated there's no set timetable for the two-time All-Star, who missed all of last season.

Geren says Duchscherer is only a day or two behind at this point.

3rd baseman Alex Gordon hoping to bounce back for Royals

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Kansas City Royals are still waiting for Alex Gordon to have that breakout season after picking him second overall in the 2005 draft.

In three big league seasons, Gordon has a .250 career average and has struck out 300 times in 1,200 at-bats.

Hip surgery last April 17 derailed Gordon's season. He missed 79 games and hit just .232 with six home runs and 22 RBIs in 49 games.

He was swinging so poorly in August the Royals sent him to the minors.

While Gordon is penciled in to open the season as the starting third baseman, he does have competition for the first time in spring training.

The Royals acquired third baseman Josh Fields from the Chicago White Sox in an offseason.

Adrian Gonzalez to look for fair value in next deal
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) -- Adrian Gonzalez says he sacrificed dollars for security the last time he signed with the San Diego Padres.

He says that won't be the case when his next contract comes up.

Gonzalez has one year remaining on his current deal with a team option for the 2011 season. He says he's looking for "fair value" the next time he hits the open market.

The slugger hit .277 with 40 homers and 99 RBIs in 160 games last season. He has 130 home runs in four seasons with the Padres despite playing half of his home games at Petco Park.

He says the next contract is going to be the one where he looks for what he deserves.

Gonzalez knew his name was involved in a number of trade rumors during the winter.

He even stopped to check the Internet during a monthlong vacation in Europe.

Giambi reports to Rockies spring training

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- In a perfect world, Jason Giambi would be reporting to spring training as a designated hitter for a contender in the American League.

Instead, Giambi is returning to the Colorado Rockies, where he will be an occasional fill-in for Todd Helton at first base and a pinch hitter.

Giambi signed a one-year deal for $1.75 million in January after not being able to secure a job as an everyday DH. He says that's just fine with him.

Giambi says he enjoyed his time in Colorado last season, when he played 19 games and helped the Rockies reach the playoffs.

Helton says he felt worn down at the end of last year.

So the Rockies plan to rest him more this season in hopes of keeping him healthy for the stretch run.

Giants closer Wilson say he feels "perfect"
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- With wild hair that goes in many directions and tattoos on his upper arms, Brian Wilson looks like a member of a rock band.

And he moves to the beat of his own drum.

On the baseball field, however, the San Francisco Giants closer is a solid teammate. The only evidence of his independence is the shock of hair that peeks from the back of his cap.

The right-hander had 41 saves that earned him his first All-Star appearance in 2008, his first full season, and followed that up with 38 more in 2009. That earned him a hefty raise of nearly $4 million when he signed a one-year deal worth $4.437 million in January to avoid arbitration.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy says Wilson has earned every penny.

Matt Kemp gaining attention beyond baseball circles
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Already in Los Angeles four years now, 2010 figures to be the first year Matt Kemp officially goes Hollywood.

Kemp was a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner in 2009, finished 10th in the National League MVP voting, and then added even more notoriety over the winter when he was spotted out on the town and at a Mexico resort with singer Rihanna.

It's no longer just the sports publications that want more of a piece of Kemp. People and Us have opened files on him, while Source and GQ have already made calls to the Dodgers' public relations office.

Kemp is getting ready to do a GQ shoot this spring, in fact.

The 25-year-old Oklahoma native has started to become a household name for those who prefer their tickets get them into movies or concerts over ballgames.

Illness gives Diamondbacks outfielder Conor Jackson new perspective

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- After missing most of last season with valley fever, Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Conor Jackson has reported to spring training with a whole new outlook.

He arrived at camp early to work on conditioning and reconnect with the teammates he couldn't help last year. While
Arizona struggled, finishing last in the National League West, Jackson lost 30 pounds and stayed in bed most of the time while being treated for the disease.

Jackson says the viral infection showed him that there is a lot more to life than the game. But the 27-year-old thinks he still has plenty of baseball left in him.

Jackson hit .425 with two homers in the Dominican Republic winter league and says he "feels great."

Reds 1st baseman Joey Votto much better after tough times

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto says he's doing much better than last year, when anxiety related to his father's death interrupted his season.

Votto missed 21 games because of the problem. He also missed time because of dizziness and headaches caused by an ear infection. He still led the team in batting average, homers and runs.

Votto says he's come a long way from where he was emotionally last year.

He spent the offseason working on his defense, which has been one of his biggest challenges on the field.

Cubs closer must maintain control
MESA, Ariz. (AP) -- Carlos Marmol has a nice one-year contract and the comfort of knowing the closer's role with the Chicago Cubs is all his this spring.

The hard-throwing and talented right-hander was beaten out for the job a year ago by Kevin Gregg but took over last August. The struggling Gregg was not re-signed before joining the Toronto Blue Jays, so Marmol has no competition as closer.

Marmol had contradictory numbers last year. He gave up only a .170 batting average but he had some control problems in which he threw six wild pitches, hit 12 batters and walked 65 in 74 innings.

The Cubs think he's settled down and will be more consistent and relaxed because he knows when he'll be called upon.