Indian's Escobar out with knee injury; Jeter, Giambi dinged up

Posted: Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi will probably just miss a couple of spring training games.

The Cleveland Indians might have much more to worry about.

Alex Escobar, the key player in the trade that sent All-Star second baseman Roberto Alomar to the New York Mets, injured his left knee Monday when he crashed into the center-field fence during an exhibition game.

''I don't know how bad it is,'' said Indians manager Charlie Manuel, who was at a different split-squad game. ''I just know he hit the wall and was carried off the field.''

In the fourth inning of Cleveland's 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, Escobar ran into the outfield wall after catching a fly ball by Rob Mackowiak.

Escobar crumpled to the warning track and stayed there for several minutes before being taken from the field on a golf cart.

The 23-year-old outfielder, considered a top big league prospect, singled in each of his first two at-bats to boost his batting average to .500 (5-for-10). He also stole his second base of the spring before the injury.

Elsewhere, David Wells saw his first game action since undergoing back surgery in July.

Wells allowed only a solo homer in two innings as the New York Yankees lost 7-3 to a split squad of Minnesota Twins in Tampa, Fla.

Wells is competing with Orlando Hernandez and Sterling Hitchcock for the final two spots in New York's starting rotation.

''A long time waiting,'' Wells said. ''I felt good. I can't wait to get out there again.''

Jeter is expected to miss at least five games because of a strained neck muscle. The Yankees' shortstop was hurt while taking batting practice Sunday.

''It's like a charley horse in the neck,'' Jeter said.

Giambi left the game after his leg stiffened in the chilly weather. He missed two games last week because of tightness in his left hamstring, and is expected to be sidelined until at least Thursday.

''He didn't re-injure it,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ''He couldn't get it loose. I don't think it's a big concern.''

New York reliever Ramiro Mendoza also underwent an MRI test after experiencing neck stiffness over the weekend.

Third baseman Drew Henson made three errors.

Corey Koskie, the Minnesota Twins' third baseman, has a sprained right wrist. The team doesn't know how long he'll be out of the lineup.

Koskie had 26 homers and 103 RBIs last season.

''We can't afford to lose a guy like Koskie,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said.

In Phoenix, Randy Johnson struck out five of his six batters and Luis Gonzalez hit his first homer of the spring, but the big story for the Arizona Diamondbacks was the return of Todd Stottlemyre.

In his first game since Sept. 21, 2000, Stottlemyre allowed two runs on three hits in two innings as Arizona beat Milwaukee 4-2.

''Lots of times I thought this day would never come,'' said Stottlemyre, who threw 42 pitches, including a fastball that hit 93 mph.

At Port St. Lucie, Fla., the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers got into a beanball battle.

Each team took a turn in hitting a star player in the Dodgers' 9-4 victory.

Mets left-hander Mark Guthrie threw a couple of pitches inside to Brian Jordan -- the first Dodgers hitter after New York catcher Mike Piazza was struck on the left forearm by Eric Gagne in the fourth inning.

After the game, Jordan accused Mets manager Bobby Valentine of ordering Guthrie to retaliate for the pitch that left Piazza with a welt.

''Why would I do that?'' Valentine said. ''I heard he (Jordan) was standing in back of the batter's box jumping away from the pitches before they were thrown. Maybe he thought he was supposed to get hit.''

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