While Cubs ace Kerry Wood headed back to Chicago for tests on his right shoulder, teammate Mark Prior made his first start of spring training.
The news was only good for Cincinnati and St. Louis as Ken Griffey Jr. and Larry Walker took their first swings of the year.
Wood returned to Chicago on Thursday to have his pitching shoulder examined. A day earlier, he had to cut short his start after feeling tightness. Wood had an MRI before returning home.
''He's such a valuable commodity,'' Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
Wood missed two months last season because of tendinitis in his right triceps. He was sidelined for the 1999 season after elbow ligament replacement surgery.
''After what happened last year, this is just precautionary,'' Baker said. ''It was just a matter of him going back and seeing our team doctor. Right now, it's nothing. We just decided to do this for a precautionary sake.''
Prior, slated to be the Cubs' No. 2 starter behind Wood, gave up a run and four hits in three innings for the Cubs in a 5-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday.
The Cubs are being cautious with Prior this spring because last season he didn't pitch until June 4. A month after he returned from the right Achilles' tendinitis injury, Prior missed a start in July with discomfort in his pitching elbow.
Prior said he didn't have any nagging thoughts about getting injured this season.
''Sometimes things creep up, but you can't worry about it,'' he said. ''You definitely don't want to see anybody get hurt. You want to see the best guys out there, you want to play the best and you want to be at your best.''
At Sarasota, Fla., Griffey hit a sharp liner directly into first baseman Carlos Pena's glove in his first at-bat of the year.
''I said to him, 'I haven't had a base hit since July, you could've let that one go by,''' Griffey said.
Actually, Griffey's last hit was on Aug. 4 and his final game of 2004 was two days later. Griffey, 35, has been sidelined by serious injuries each of the last four seasons. He had surgery Aug. 16 to reattach his torn right hamstring.
In his second and last at-bat of the Reds' 4-3 win over the Detroit Tigers, Griffey walked. He trotted to second on Adam Dunn's single and jogged to third on an inning-ending double play.
''We just wanted to get him two at-bats the first time out of the chute,'' Reds manager Dave Miley said. ''Tomorrow we'll shoot for three.''
At Jupiter, Fla., Walker was hitless in two at-bats and played four innings in the Cardinals' 4-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday. Walker was limited since the start of spring training by lower back soreness but said he probably could have played four days earlier.
''I felt great,'' Walker said. ''Got a couple of balls hit to me, so I was able to move. And I hit the ball all right my first time up. I felt comfortable, felt all right.''
At Phoenix, Ben Sheets, who had offseason back surgery, made his spring debut and pitched a scoreless inning in the Milwaukee Brewers' 6-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals. Scheduled to throw one inning or 25 pitches, Sheets needed just 12 pitches to retire the side in the first.
At Fort Myers, Fla., Scott Erickson improved his bid for the No. 5 spot in the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation with four strong innings in their 2-1 win over the Boston Red Sox.
The 37-year-old Erickson had his third straight solid outing, allowing one run and two hits while striking out five and walking one. In nine innings of spring training, he's allowed one run and three hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
The only run he allowed Thursday came on Manny Ramirez's second homer.
In other games
Yankees 8, Blue Jays 0
At Tampa, Fla., Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano each threw three scoreless innings, and Hideki Matsui hit a three-run homer for the Yankees. Mariano Rivera worked a hitless seventh, Alex Rodriguez had a two-run single and Gary Sheffield went 3-for-4 with an RBI to send New York to its second win of spring training.
The Blue Jays announced an important decision earlier in the day, saying right-hander Miguel Batista will be their closer instead of right-hander Justin Speier. Pirates 1, Braves 0
At Kissimmee, Fla., John Thomson pitched three scoreless innings, and Horacio Ramirez added two more for the Braves. Atlanta's starters have thrown 17 scoreless innings this spring.
Pittsburgh's Kip Wells retired all nine batters he faced. Dave Williams followed with three more scoreless innings.
Indians (ss) 3, Nationals (ss) 1
At Winter Haven, Fla., Aaron Boone hit his first homer since Game 7 of the 2003 American League championship series. Boone, who missed last season with a knee injury, went 2-for-4 and is 4-for-10 this spring.
Nationals starter Tomo Ohka allowed one hit and struck out three in three innings.
Marlins 5, Nationals (ss) 3
At Viera, Fla., Dontrelle Willis pitched two-hit ball over four innings for Florida. Livan Hernandez pitched five innings in his second spring start for the Nationals, allowing two runs one earned and four hits.
Rockies 11, Padres 5
At Tucson, Ariz., Todd Helton homered and had three RBIs, and Jason Jennings gave up a hit and a run in three innings for Colorado. Rockies center fielder Preston Wilson, recovering from two knee operations that limited him to 58 games last season, will make his first start of the spring on Saturday.
Woody Williams allowed nine runs eight earned and eight hits in 2 1-3 innings. He walked two.
Angels 6, Athletics 5
At Tempe, Ariz., Barry Zito allowed two hits in four innings for Oakland, but prospect Jeff Mathis homered and drove in the winning run with a single to lift the Angels.
Phillies 6, Twins 3
At Fort Myers, Jimmy Rollins had a bunt single and a three-run homer off Twins starter Brad Radke.
Twins center fielder Torii Hunter went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored in his first game since last Saturday. He had been out of the lineup with inflammation in his left shoulder. Catcher Joe Mauer played without pain in his first game in four days. He went 0-for-2 with a walk.
Orioles 8, Mets 2
At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Carlos Beltran lost two balls in the sun, resulting in a double by Javy Lopez and a triple by David Newhan in a six-run fourth inning. Newhan lost sight of Mike Piazza's double in the fifth inning.
Indians (ss) 12, Devil Rays 2
At St. Petersburg, Fla., Denny Neagle gave up four runs and six hits in one inning, and Devil Rays closer Danys Baez was roughed up for five runs and six hits in an inning. Tampa Bay left-hander Scott Kazmir learned during his three-inning stint that he had earned a spot in the starting rotation. Cleveland's Alex Cora was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
White Sox 7, Rangers 2
At Surprise, Ariz., Ricardo Rodriguez, whose right elbow was shattered by a line drive last July, gave up five runs and seven hits in 3 1-3 innings in his second spring start for Texas. Second baseman Alfonso Soriano went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and is hitless in 13 at-bats this spring.
Joe Crede, Timo Perez, Ross Gload and Juan Urbie also had two hits for Chicago.
Giants 7, Diamondbacks 2
At Tucson, Jason Ellison's grand slam capped San Francisco's five-run ninth inning. Arizona's Javier Vazquez allowed one run and two hits in four innings.
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