Spring training roundup

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Ryan Dempster picked to start Chicago Cubs' opener
MESA, Ariz. (AP) -- Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade has selected Ryan Dempster to start the season opener against Pittsburgh on April 1.

Dempster was picked over right-hander Carlos Zambrano, who has started the last six openers for the Cubs. Zambrano will start the second game of the season followed by Matt Garza in Game 3.

The Cubs obtained Garza during the offseason from Tampa Bay.

Quade said he called all three pitchers into his office Monday, and that all were in accord with the decision.

Earlier in spring training in Mesa, Quade said he would wait as long as possible to pick his opening day starter.
Dodgers look to quiet Andre Ethier for leadership

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Andre Ethier wants to be a leader for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He wants to be the kind of player who sets a good example and can bring a clubhouse together.

He's just not sure how to go about it.

New manager Don Mattingly says Ethier can do it.

He points to Derek Jeter with the New York Yankees as a guy who leads simply by playing hard every day.
Jeff Suppan trying to pitch his way onto Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Jeff Suppan hopes to win a job on the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

Having played for Boston -- twice, Arizona, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, St. Louis --twice, and Milwaukee, the 36-year-old right-hander is competing for a spot on a team that appears to have pitching depth.

Suppan is at spring training in Scottsdale with a minor league contract and would get a $1 million, one-year deal if added to the major league roster.

He was 3-8 with a 5.06 ERA in 15 starts and 15 relief appearances with Milwaukee and St. Louis last year, when he was slowed by a neck injury.
Ryan Ludwick looks to bounce back with Padres

PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) -- Ryan Ludwick is looking to bounce back. The outfielder hit .251 with 17 homers and 69 RBIs last year for St. Louis and San Diego, which finished two games back of World Series champion San Francisco in the National League West.

He arrived at spring training 8 pounds heavier than last season, with 1 percent less body fat.

Ludwick hit .211 with six homers and 26 RBIs in 59 games with the Padres after the July 31 trade.

He says he never fully healed from a calf injury, even after a 28-day stint on the disabled list that lasted into July.
Paul Janish is Reds shortstop -- to start out, anyway

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) -- Paul Janish got a reassuring call from Reds general manager Walt Jocketty last month -- well, as reassuring as it could be under the circumstances.

The Reds had just signed World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, and Jocketty wanted to let Janish know that it wouldn't affect his standing as the starting shortstop.

Janish appreciated the call, but he's a realist. He knows that he has to play well to keep the job. The 28-year-old played well last season when Orlando Cabrera was hurt, putting him in line to become the starter when Cabrera left after the season.

Jocketty signed Renteria as a backup, but Janish knows that could change if he struggles.
Clayton Mortensen looks to impress Rockies' management

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Clayton Mortensen might have been able to fit his old spring training clubhouse into a closet at his new spring training home.

The features of the Rockies' new facilities in Arizona have many wide-eyed.

And Mortensen hopes he's one of the new pitching faces that will have management excited.

Mortensen said Monday there's no comparison to anything else in spring training to the facilities shared by the Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks.

He thinks some of the perks will help improve his performance.
Hideki Matsui gets to work on first day with A's

PHOENIX (AP) -- Coco Crisp approached Hideki Matsui while they warmed up and pulled his new teammate into a hug.

They shook hands, too -- a little more the Japanese style.

Crisp is far from the only one thrilled to see Oakland's new designated hitter in uniform and on the field in Phoenix at last. Pitcher Dallas Braden greeted the slugger in the clubhouse on reporting day with a life-size blowup Godzilla representing Matsui's nickname, even dressing it in his No. 55 jersey.

Matsui tipped his cap to the large contingent following his every move after a session in the cage at Papago Park, then smiled as he went through sprint work on a welcome sunny day in the desert on the heels of a weekend of heavy rain and cold.

He even pulled out his glove to play catch and later did defensive work with the outfielders.
Omar Vizquel at 43, still going strong

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Omar Vizquel donned a sweatshirt and stocking cap on a cool morning in Arizona and headed out early to the batting cage.

Just two months shy of his 44th birthday, he's getting ready for yet another season.

Vizquel used the offseason to try a different form of exercise, one featuring elastic bands hanging from a ceiling. They helped him build up his core and stretched out his muscles in preparation for his 23rd major league season.

Vizquel isn't sure how much longer he'll play -- he's 201 hits shy of 3,000 -- and says he'd like to try managing once those playing days end.
Jeff Mathis looks to regain batting groove

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Jeff Mathis had a 10-game hitting streak during the first month of last season and was batting .324 heading into April 19.

Then the Los Angeles Angels catcher broke his right wrist blocking a Kevin Jepsen breaking pitch in the dirt.

After he returned nine weeks later, his batting average dipped until he wound up at .195 -- lowering his career average to .199.

Known for superior defense, Mathis is expected to be the Angels' opening-day catcher -- unless prospect Hank Conger dazzles or backup Bobby Wilson impresses following a 33-pound offseason weight loss.
Jack Wilson, Brendan Ryan to compete at shortstop for Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) -- He's questioned if his body is rejecting him, changed nearly everything about his conditioning in an effort to stay healthier and even expressed a bit of guilt at getting paid for playing so few games the last few seasons.

And now Jack Wilson might not even have a starting spot with the Seattle Mariners.

Manager Eric Wedge has opened up the Mariners starting shortstop competition, likely to be decided between Wilson and newcomer Brendan Ryan.

Wilson has struggled with injuries the last few seasons, missing 232 games between 2008-10.

Wilson says he understands Wedge's decision to open up the job.

Ryan was acquired in a trade with St. Louis after playing in 139 games at shortstop last season for the Cardinals.
Brandon Webb not concerned not being on mound for Texas

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) -- Brandon Webb has no concerns about the Texas Rangers keeping him off the mound for now.

Webb says the Rangers just want him to build up more arm strength. He threw on flat ground Monday in Surprise and says he's still doing a lot of throwing.

The former National League Cy Young Award winner hasn't pitched in a major league game since the 2009 season opener for Arizona because of shoulder surgery. 

Webb threw a short bullpen session Thursday during the team's first workout, and says he hasn't had a setback.

The American League champion Rangers, who lost Cliff Lee in free agency, expect Webb to be part of their rotation.

Manager Ron Washington says he has no level of concern and that the Rangers "just want to make sure he's able to help us."
Bruce Chen glad to be back in Royals camp

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) -- Bruce Chen went nearly four years without winning a major league game before he led the Kansas City Royals with 12 victories last year.

He went from begging for a minor league contract in 2009 after missing the previous season because of elbow surgery to arriving in spring training this year with a $2 million contract.

Chen's 4.17 ERA last year was slightly lower than Zack Greinke's, and Chen had two more wins.

Greinke, the 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner, was
dealt in December to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Woman pitches to Cleveland Indians
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) -- Justine Siegal became the first woman to pitch batting practice in a major league spring training camp when she threw to the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear.

Siegal, a Cleveland native, wore a patch honoring Christina-Taylor Green, the nine-year-old granddaughter of former major league manager Dallas Green, who was killed in last month's shootings in Tucson.

The 36-year-old Siegal was the first woman to coach first base in men's professional baseball for the Brockton (Mass.) Rox, an independent league team, in 2009. She spent three years as the only female college baseball coach in the country, when she was an assistant coach at Springfield College (Mass.) from 2007-10.

Siegal, who throws right-handed, is scheduled to throw batting practice in the Oakland Athletics camp later this week.