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AROUND THE HORN Spring training news and notes



Published: Thu, March 20, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Cubs: Since spring training opened with 55 players, 26 have endured illness. Most had cold and flulike symptoms, while others had bronchitis. But ace Kerry Wood hasn't been able to shake the bug. Wood, the projected starter for the season opener against the New York Mets on March 31, missed his scheduled start Saturday against Anaheim. He was at the ballpark Sunday, but manager Dusty Baker said he wasn't sure when Wood would be able to return to the mound. Baker also wasn't certain whether Wood's illness, which is affecting his inner-ear, would prevent the 25-year-old right-hander from pitching on opening day.

Mariners: For the first time in nine seasons, Dan Wilson won't be the opening-day catcher. Wilson is recovering from a strained left side, and manager Bob Melvin said he will miss the March 25-26 opening games in Tokyo against Oakland. Ben Davis, Wilson's backup, will start both games behind the plate in Tokyo. Wilson has been Seattle's No. 1 catcher since 1994.

Giants: Kirk Rueter will be the opening day starter. The left-hander will pitch March 31 at San Diego, followed by right-hander Jason Schmidt. The other three spots most likely will go to right-hander Livan Hernandez, lefty Damian Moss and probably Kurt Ainsworth or Ryan Jensen.

Padres: The rights to Mexican infielder Oscar Robles were acquired Sunday and he was invited to spring training as a non-roster player. Robles, 26, was acquired from the Oaxaca Guerreros. He is expected to join the Padres in the next few days. Robles was released by Oakland on March 8 after the Athletics failed to reach an agreement with the Guerreros. He batted .667 with three runs scored and two RBIs in five spring training games with the A's. The Padres also optioned pitcher Michael Nicholas to Double-A Mobile and reassigned pitcher Kris Keller and infielders Chris Sexton and Mario Valdez to minor league camp.

Blue Jays: Pitching prospect Pasqual Coco was released after he stole money from teammate Diegomar Markwell's locker, the Toronto Star and Toronto Sun reported Sunday. Coco was cut Friday. He and Markwell shared an apartment at spring training this year and were teammates in Toronto's minor league system. The money was returned to Markwell and no criminal charges have been filed.

Phillies: Tug McGraw is undergoing neurological evaluation at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and is scheduled to have surgery early this week. In a statement released by the hospital through the team, Dr. Steven Brem said evidence of a malignant brain tumor is "inconclusive." Brem is the program leader of Moffitt's neuro-oncology program and an expert in brain mapping and neuronavigation. Officials declined to release any further information about the planned surgery.

-- Associated Press




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