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Mets' Leiter hit in head by line drive

Posted: Sunday, April 04, 2004

Al Leiter and the New York Mets got a scare when the left-hander was hit in the head by a line drive Saturday.

Leiter grabbed the side of his face after being struck by Alex Gonzalez's liner in the second inning of New York's 21-13 victory over the Florida Marlins in Jupiter, Fla.

The pitcher fell on the mound, but never lost consciousness. After being treated by trainers, he stood up on his own and walked to a nearby golf cart that brought him to the clubhouse.

Leiter was taken to Jupiter Medical Center for a CT scan and X-rays, which were negative. He was to return to the team's spring training complex in Port St. Lucie to be examined by assistant team physician Joe Bosco.

''I'll be fine. I've got a little headache and a little bruise,'' Leiter said. ''I saw it and I thought I had it. It was knuckling a little bit and I missed it.''

The left-hander said he didn't know if he would miss his first start Thursday night in Atlanta.

''If it's still really sore I won't push it,'' Leiter said.

The Mets also traded disappointing outfielder Roger Cedeno to St. Louis for backup catcher Chris Widger and infielder Wilson Delgado.

The Colorado Rockies will start the season without slugger Larry Walker, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left groin.

The three-time NL batting champion has been sidelined most of the spring with the injury. He was hurt early in spring training and aggravated the injury in an exhibition game on a checked swing. The move was made retroactive to March 26.

The Philadelphia Phillies opened their new ballpark with a 6-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

The outcome didn't seem to matter for the sellout crowd getting its first look at Citizens Bank Park.

Fan favorite Jim Thome picked up where he left off last year when he led the National League with 47 home runs, smashing a solo shot in the first inning for the first hit.

Pat Burrell added a three-run homer in the fifth inning, but the Indians went ahead for good when Chris Clapinski homered off Rheal Cormier leading off the seventh.

The intimate, baseball-only ballpark mixed modern conveniences with old-time charm. Real grass, an open-air stadium with a splendid view of Center City, wider seats angled toward home plate and more concession choices with a local flavor made the ballpark a hit with fans.

Veterans Stadium, the Phillies' home for the last 33 years, closed for good last year.

''There's so much more character than the concrete toilet bowl,'' said Gene Schriver, of Huntington Valley, Pa. ''All the sight lines are awesome. It's better than we expected.''

The first major league game of the 2004 season on American soil will be Sunday night, when Pedro Martinez and the Boston Red Sox open against Sidney Ponson and the Baltimore Orioles.

In other spring training games:

Braves 5, Red Sox 0

At Atlanta, Red Sox closer Keith Foulke finished a rocky spring by giving up two runs while getting only one out. Foulke ended the spring with a 15.59 ERA, giving up 17 hits and 15 runs in 8 2-3 innings.

Devil Rays 7, Blue Jays 5

At Dunedin, Fla., Tampa Bay's Mark Hendrickson pitched six solid innings against his former team.

Reds 5, Orioles 3

At Chattanooga, Tenn., Sean Casey drove in a run and scored on a passed ball in the final spring training game for both teams. Jose Acevedo allowed one earned run and six hits in four innings for the Reds.

Pirates 7, Twins 4

At Bradenton, Fla., hours after learning he'd won a spot in Pittsburgh's rotation, Ryan Vogelsong capped a solid spring with four strong innings. The right-hander gave up one run and struck out seven for the win. He finished spring training with a 2.05 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 26 1-3 innings.

Cardinals 5, Redbirds 1

At Memphis, Tenn., Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer and the Cardinals beat their Triple-A affiliate. Jeff Suppan gave up one run and struck out five in six innings for the win.

Tigers 7, Yankees 7, 10 innings

At Tampa, Fla., Bernie Williams went 1-for-3 and drove in a run in his first major league spring training game this year. Williams had played in eight minor league games since having his appendix removed Feb. 26. ''I think I'm ready for the every game grind,'' Williams said. Manager Joe Torre anticipates Williams will play when the Yankees resume the regular season Tuesday at Tampa Bay.

Royals 9, Astros 5

At Houston, the Royals roughed up Wade Miller for six runs in three innings. Mendy Lopez hit a three-run homer to cap a six-run third. Jeff Bagwell hit his first homer of the spring.

Diamondbacks 8, Cubs 7

At Phoenix, Richie Sexson hit his fifth homer of the spring for the Diamondbacks. Sergio Mitre, the Cubs' No. 5 starter until Mark Prior comes back from the disabled list, pitched three scoreless innings of relief.

Rookie right-hander Casey Daigle and knuckleballer Steve Sparks earned the last two spots in Arizona's rotation. Shane Reynolds will begin the season in the bullpen.

Athletics 11, Giants 10, 10 innings

At Oakland, Calif., Jermaine Dye homered off Felix Rodriguez and drove in five runs. New Athletics closer Arthur Rhodes was tagged for four runs and six hits, increasing his ERA to 6.42. Angels 10, Dodgers 4

At Anaheim, Calif., Barry Wesson hit a three-run homer, and Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia got a home run call a two-run shot by Shawn Green reversed by the umpires in the second game of the Freeway Series.

Mariners 7, Padres 4

At San Diego, Seattle's Bret Boone and Randy Winn hit consecutive homers off David Wells in the fourth inning in the first big league game at Petco Park.



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