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Johnson makes much-anticipated debut for Yankees; Mulder shows top stuff

Posted: Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Randy Johnson didn't display his overpowering fastball or his menacing glare in his first spring start. No matter, the New York Yankees were just happy to see The Big Unit take the mound.

Meanwhile, Mark Mulder rebounded from a sloppy debut and gave the St. Louis Cardinals a glimpse of the No. 1 starter they expected.

Johnson finally made his much-anticipated first appearance with the Yankees on Tuesday, working two innings in an 8-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Kissimmee, Fla. He threw 36 pitches, 22 for strikes, and gave up a two-run homer to old nemesis Chipper Jones in an uneven performance.

"I know I still have a long way to go to be ready for opening day," Johnson said. "But we'll get there."

Johnson said he felt fine physically after being scratched from his first scheduled start last week because of a tight left calf.

After opening with a strikeout, Brian Jordan singled and Johnson fell behind 2-0 on Jones before the Braves third baseman drove a 92 mph fastball over the left-field fence.

The Yankees didn't start pursuing Johnson last summer just to add a few wins during the regular season. No, they pushed to finally complete a drawn-out trade with Arizona in January because they needed an ace in the postseason.

And that's exactly why nobody sounded worried about the 41-year-old Johnson losing his first outing of spring training.

"Everything turned out fine. He got his work in," manager Joe Torre said. "I'm not really concerned about statistics."

In his second start since being acquired from Oakland in the offseason, Mulder allowed two runs and five hits in three innings of the Cardinals' 9-7 victory over the Washington Nationals at Jupiter, Fla.

"I gave up a couple of runs but they were the only two bad pitches I made," said Mulder, who walked one and struck out three. "I felt much better. My delivery was better and I was locating the ball better."

It was a big improvement for Mulder, who lasted only one inning in his first spring training appearance against the Mets. He needed 44 pitches to get three outs in that one, walking four and giving up a two-run single.

At Bradenton, Fla., NL Rookie of the Year Jason Bay injured his wrist diving for a flyball in the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

Bay will miss at least a week with a bone bruise, but should be ready for opening day.

At Tucson, Ariz., Luis Gonzalez made his first start since undergoing season-ending elbow surgery in August, and pinch-hitter Tony Clark hit a three-run double for Arizona in a 10-2 win over a Oakland Athletics split squad.

Gonzalez had a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, but went 0-for-2 and is 0-for-7 this spring. He made a throw to home plate from left field in the third inning that was late getting Dan Johnson.

"My mechanics weren't quite what I've been working on," Gonzalez said. "Just getting the ball in was good enough for me. It's nice to be back out on the field."

In other games:

Red Sox 7, Twins (ss) 4

At Fort Myers, Fla., Matt Clement allowed a leadoff homer to Luis Rivas but retired his final eight batters in his second spring training start since leaving the Chicago Cubs and signing a three-year, $25.5 million contract with Boston. David Ortiz hit a solo homer and Manny Ramirez added a two-run shot in the sixth for Boston.

Giants 5, Rangers 1

At Scottsdale, Ariz., Noah Lowry gave up one hit in three innings to lead San Francisco. Texas' Richard Hidalgo hit a home run in the seventh off Jason Christiansen.

Blue Jays (ss) 6, Phillies 4

At Dunedin, Fla., Toronto's Dave Bush and Philadelphia's Brett Myers each pitched three strong innings. Bush allowed one run and three hits while Myers gave one run on four hits.

Blue Jays (ss) 2, Twins (ss) 1

At Fort Myers, Gabe Gross, Toronto's first-round pick in 2001, went 2-for-2 with his fourth homer in four days and threw out a runner at home from left field. Kyle Lohse gave up two runs in two innings with two strikeouts for Minnesota.

Devil Rays 12, Tigers 4

At Lakeland, Fla., Josh Phelps hit two homers for the Devil Rays. Nate Robertson gave up a run in two innings and struck out two for Detroit.

Hideo Nomo, a non-roster invitee trying to revive his career with Tampa Bay, went two innings and gave up four runs on four hits and a walk without a strikeout.

Marlins 3, Dodgers 0

At Vero Beach, Fla., Wilson Alvarez made an impressive bid for a spot in the Los Angeles Dodgers' rotation, pitching two perfect innings. Kazuhisa Ishii, one of his competitors, gave up three unearned runs in two innings. In his second start for the Dodgers, Derek Lowe allowed three hits in four innings.

Mets 7, Orioles 4

At Port St. Lucie, Fla., Mike Piazza and David Wright each had RBI doubles for New York, and Kris Benson allowed three hits and a run in three innings. Orioles second baseman Enrique Wilson went 3-for-4 with an RBI.

Indians 21, Astros 4

At Kissimmee, Fla., Grady Sizemore, competing with former AL MVP Juan Gonzalez for a spot in Cleveland's outfield, led the Indians with five RBIs. Jeff Liefer went 3-for-3 with four RBIs and Josh Bard went 3-for-3 and scored four runs for the Indians.

Houston starter Dave Burba allowed six hits and eight runs before being chased with two outs in the bottom of the third.

Padres 18, Brewers (ss) 5

At Phoenix, John Knott hit a grand slam, Ryan Klesko hit a two-run homer and Mark Loretta had a pair of doubles among his three hits. Right-hander Victor Santos, vying for a spot in the Brewers' rotation, allowed seven hits and six runs in 1 2-3 innings.

Geoff Jenkins homered twice for the Brewers and new teammate Carlos Lee also homered.

Athletics (ss) 6, Cubs (ss) 4

At Mesa, Ariz., Carlos Zambrano pitched three scoreless innings for the Cubs. Joe Blanton allowed two hits over three shutout innings for Oakland.

Cubs (ss) 4, Royals 0

At Surprise, Ariz., Glendon Rusch gave up three hits in three scoreless innings against his former team. Royals starter Runelvys Hernandez, who missed all of last season following right elbow surgery, allowed one run and four hits in three innings.

Angels 11, Mariners (ss) 5

At Tempe, Ariz., Angels starter John Lackey was sidelined by a blister on his right index finger. Top prospect Ervin Santana stepped in and struck out five in two scoreless innings.

Rockies 6, White Sox 1

At Tuscon, Ariz., Jeff Francis threw three shutout innings and Darren Oliver, his competitor for the No. 5 spot in Colorado's rotation, allowed a run in his three innings. Todd Helton hit his first home run for the Rockies.

Mariners (ss) 8, Brewers (ss) 4

At Peoria, Ariz., Jose Lopez hit a bases-loaded triple in the eighth inning and Benji Gil added a two-run homer. Prince Fielder, the Brewers' No. 1 draft pick in 2002, homered.



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