Vidro, Leiter return to mound for spring fling

Posted: Monday, March 18, 2002

Jose Vidro came back for Montreal and Al Leiter took the mound again for the New York Mets. Both stars professed themselves ready for opening day.

Vidro, out since March 1 with a sprained right shoulder, went 1-for-3 with an RBI as a split squad of Mets beat Montreal 5-3 Sunday in Jupiter, Fla.

Vidro gave the Expos a scare when he dove for Dickey Gonzalez's RBI grounder in the third, hit the ground hard on his right shoulder and threw out the runner at first.

''It was a throw I would have rather not seen him make,'' Montreal manager Frank Robinson said. ''But Vidro, like most good players, plays on instinct and gives it his all, all the time.''

Vidro, a career .302 hitter, is happy to be back in the lineup. His goal is to play in all 162 games this season.

''When I landed on my shoulder and had no pain, I knew I was 100 percent,'' he said. ''I was able to swing the bat in the batting cage while my shoulder was recovering, so I wasn't concerned about hitting.''

At Port St. Lucie, Fla., Leiter pitched four innings in his first game in 10 days as the Mets lost a split-squad game to Atlanta.

Leiter struggled in the first inning before settling down and throwing three shutout innings. Leiter pulled a right hip flexor in his last start and hadn't pitched for 10 days.

''For me, the next two starts are a matter of me fine-tuning my cutter, feeling comfortable on the mound and be more precise with my pitches as opposed to arm strength,'' Leiter said.

Leiter walked Rafael Furcal and then hit Ryan Langerhans to start the game. Julio Franco followed with a three-run homer. Leiter threw 59 pitches during his stint and then went to the bullpen to throw 15 more before leaving little doubt he'd be ready to begin the season.

Mo Vaughn and Mike Piazza homered for the Mets.

In Kissimmee, Fla., Tony Pena Jr. played for Atlanta against his father's team, the Houston Astros.

''It's very emotional for me,'' said the elder Pena, who is a bench coach for Houston after a long catching career in the majors. ''You see your kid growing up, and he grows up so fast. Then you see him next to these guys. Sometimes you feel like, 'Am I that old?'''

The younger Pena, a 20-year-old shortstop who played last season at Class-A Jamestown, singled and scored the tiebreaking run in the Braves' 8-6 win in 11 innings.

''It's good to have the opportunity to come over and play in front of him,'' Tony Jr. said. ''He's never seen me play that much.''

Wilson Betemit went 4-of-5, including a two-run triple in the 11th inning for Atlanta.

In other games:

Yankees (ss) 8, Blue Jays (ss) 7

At Tampa, Fla., Derek Jeter drove in the tiebreaking run with an RBI single in the eighth inning as New York came back from a five-run deficit to beat Toronto.

Yankees (ss) 5, Dodgers 4

At Vero Beach, Fla., Todd Greene hit a three-run home run off Jeff Williams in the eighth inning and Roger Clemens pitched five strong innings for New York.

Indians 5, Pirates 1

At Winter Haven, Fla., Travis Fryman broke out of an extended slump with a home run and John McDonald returned to the field 18 days after an emergency appendectomy.

Blue Jays (ss) 4, Tigers 2

At Lakeland, Fla., Chad Mottola's fourth-inning grand slam off Jeff Weaver provided all the runs Toronto needed.

Orioles 8, Rangers 1

At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Scott Erickson allowed eight hits in six innings and Marty Cordova doubled twice for Baltimore.

Red Sox 2, Phillies 0

At Fort Myers, Fla., Jason Varitek and Lou Merloni hit back-to-back home runs and Darren Oliver pitched four scoreless innings.

Royals 7, Reds 6

At Sarasota, Fla., Bryan Rekar pitched three solid innings before fading in 84-degree heat, and Kansas City beat Cincinnati.

Twins 7, Devil Rays 4

At St. Petersburg, Fla., David Lamb broke an eighth-inning tie with a two-run double to lead Minnesota.

Marlins 5, Cardinals 2

At Melbourne, Fla., Derrek Lee hit a three-run homer and A.J. Burnett dominated with his new delivery that resembles Kevin Brown.

Diamondbacks (ss) 10, Rockies (ss) 9

At Tucson, Ariz., shortstop Tim Olson committed four of Arizona's 10 errors but had an RBI single in the ninth to lift the Diamondbacks. Colorado's Mike Hampton and Arizona's Randy Johnson both allowed five runs and eight hits in four innings.

Athletics 3, Mariners (ss) 1

At Phoenix, Scott Hatteberg's third home run in two days -- a two-run shot -- lifted Oakland over Seattle.

Cubs 3, White Sox 0

At Mesa, Ariz., Jon Lieber allowed one hit in six scoreless innings to lead the Cubs.

Rockies (ss) 10, Giants 8

At Scottsdale, Ariz., Larry Walker homered and Gary Bennett and Juan Uribe each had three hits for Colorado.

Brewers (ss) 22, Mariners (ss) 5

At Peoria, Ariz., Henry Blanco hit a grand slam and Izzy Alcantara went 4-for-6 with three RBIs and three runs scored for Milwaukee.

Angels 7, Brewers (ss) 5

At Phoenix, Scott Spiezio hit a three-run homer to lead Anaheim. Geoff Jenkins and Richie Sexson homered for Milwaukee.

Padres 12, Diamondbacks (ss) 7

At Hermosillo, Mexico, Trenidad Hubbard hit a three-run homer -- one of five for San Diego -- to spark a six-run fourth inning. Arizona's Erubiel Durazo hit a three-run homer off Dennis Tankersley in the first.

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