Riding the Pine… Daily Update 03/05/2007

Friday Scores
Saturday Scores
Sunday Scores

Player Moverment:
Yankees – Cuts: reassigned RHP Steven White, INF Marcos Vechionacci, INF Ramiro Pena, C Francisco Cervelli, C Omir Santos and C P.J. Pilittere to their minor league camp …

Around the Web:
RotoWorld’s Top 100 Prospects.
Baseball Prospectus talks to Brewer’s Director of Player Development.
Baseball Notebook has a different look at stats. They tend to nail how a player does before the season.

Prospect of the Day:
Top Prospect Alert isn’t updated yet; in it’s place, a Philip Hughes Crystal Ball by John Sickels.

Rumors:
Source: BenMaller.com

In an interview on XM satellite radio’s baseball channel, retired major league star Dale Murphy said he believes Mark McGwire used performance-enhancing drugs: “I think he did. Anybody who watched his (congressional) testimony, it’s just not a great leap to say it’s kind of obvious. Bottom line is, yeah, I think he did. “I think he got some bad advice because we’re just kind of looking at him and saying, ‘We obviously know you won’t address it.’ I think there’s ways for Mark McGwire to address this issue and to help baseball, and to reach out to kids. Hall of Fame, I don’t think so. I wouldn’t vote for someone who I felt was involved with that”…

Angels owner Arte Moreno said Sunday he would not let the uncertain situation surrounding center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. linger into the regular season. “It’s going to be resolved by opening day, one way or the other. I promise you that,” Moreno said. “I’m not a very happy guy. It should have already been resolved.” Moreno, who signed Matthews to a five-year, $50-million contract in November, would not elaborate on the meaning of “one way or the other”…

Astros OF Richard Hidalgo is competing this spring with Jason Lane and Luke Scott for the starting right field spot. Hidalgo will make $850,000 if he makes the major league roster and could earn up to $2.5 million in incentives. “Every time I get a chance, I have to do my best and get a hit,” Hidalgo said. “If I don’t get my hits, I just have to work hard every day and just look good in the field”…

The A’s haven’t fretted over Barry Zito’s defection across the bay, knowing a healthy Rich Harden would look perfectly fine atop a rotation that includes Dan Haren, Joe Blanton and Esteban Loaiza. Now, Harden’s task is simple: stay activated after two seasons shortened by injuries. He was asked about replacing Zito as the leader of the rotation. “I don’t pay attention to what people say,” he said. “I don’t read the news articles or follow the game on TV. They aren’t distractions I need. No matter what happens — who comes, who goes — I still have to do my job. Whatever people say, it doesn’t matter. It ultimately comes down to how I pitch this year. It’s tough not to have Zito. He was a mentor to us. But I’ve got to focus on what I do on the field”…

Over the past two years, Toronto Blue Jays owner Ted Rogers has given his general manager J.P. Ricciardi the go-ahead to spend a combined $120 million on free agents A.J. Burnett, B.J. Ryan and Frank Thomas, another $30 million to absorb the last three years of Troy Glaus’ contract, and the $126 million to lock up franchise mainstay Vernon Wells through 2014. Throw in the $40 million to extend Jays righthander Roy Halladay through 2010 and that’s about $170 million more than the $112 million it cost Rogers Communications to purchase 80% of the club from Labatt’s brewery in 2000. So wouldn’t it stand to reason that it might be time for the Blue Jays to win? Or at the very least, give Rogers a little postseason payback? “Our owner has been very supportive and very patient,” Ricciardi says. “He understands how hard it is to win, especially in our division. I realize the Yankees and Red Sox owners are driven to win. Our owner is not the same way. Not that he doesn’t want to win. We all want to win here. That’s our goal. But he wants us to be as good as we can and run a good business. Last year was the first year we ever had money to spend and still our payroll ($71 million) was 17th in baseball”…

Jeff Francoeur had his Braves contract renewed Saturday at a salary of about $427,000, after he declined to accept the club’s slightly higher original offer. “You have no control over it for three years,” Francoeur said. “What can you do? It’ll even out.” Players with less than three years of major league service have no negotiating rights. They typically get enormous raises once they become eligible for arbitration after three years’ service. Players can become free agents after six years of big-league service. Francoeur, 23, has just over 1 1/2 years of service time in the majors. The Lilburn native made $384,500 last year in his first full season and hit .260 with 29 homers and 103 RBIs while playing all 162 games…Atlanta’s Chipper Jones hopes bigger cleats (size 14, not the previous 13) will be the answer for bunions that have bothered him the last three seasons…

Righty Ben Hendrickson, who followed Capuano to the mound against the Angels, is out of minor-league options, meaning the Brewers must keep him on their roster or put him on waivers at the end of camp to send him down. Once considered one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, Hendrickson saw his stock plummet after poor showings at the big-league level. He went 1-8 with a 6.22 ERA in 10 appearances in 2004 and 0-2 with a 12.00 ERA in four games last year, when he failed to capitalize on an opportunity with starters Ben Sheets and Tomo Ohka on the disabled list. As for being out of options, Hendrickson said, “I’m glad that’s happening. This is my fourth year on the (40-man) roster. I know whatever happens, happens now. It’s not like I have a choice. It kind of makes you relax a little more.” With the rotation apparently set and only a spot or two open in the bullpen, the odds are against Hendrickson making the team…Brewers 3B prospect Ryan Braun, the sensation of the exhibition opener (two homers, seven RBI), was withheld from game action for the second consecutive day with soreness in his throwing elbow. “He said his elbow is sore, so he’s not playing until he says it’s OK,” said manager Ned Yost, who indicated that Braun might miss several more games…

And now you know why the Cardinals weren’t rushing to extend the contract of shortstop David Eckstein. I hope Eckstein’s injury isn’t related to a lack of rest or preparation this offseason…For all of the whining over Chris Duncan’s corner-outfield defense, he had an above-average defensive zone rating last season, according to STATS. Enough already…

Who Knew? Tampa Bay could open the season with three players from South Korea-Hee Seop Choi and pitchers Jae Seo and Jae Kuk Ryu…

Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said there were two reasons behind the decision to have Jason Schmidt miss a three-game series at San Francisco and instead pitch the home opener against the Colorado Rockies the next day. Facing his former Giants teammates “could be a distraction,” Honeycutt said. “But it was more about giving him the home opener”…

Dave Roberts promises to bring more than speed to the top of the Giants lineup. He brings a leadoff hitter’s mentality that the club has lacked in recent seasons. “I’ve always prided myself on helping my team win baseball games, whether it be getting a guy over, seeing pitches or having productive at-bats,” Roberts said. “The more quality at-bats you have throughout a lineup, the better. You’re making the starter work. You’re getting into a team’s bullpen early. It’s helping your teammates. That’s why, as a leadoff hitter, it’s my job to be productive but also make the pitcher work out there”…

There will be no spring training golf for C.C. Sabathia this year. Sabathia made his first start of the spring Sunday, as the Indians dropped a 7-4 decision to the Detroit Tigers at Chain of Lakes Park. In two scoreless innings, he gave up two hits and struck out three. Retiring every batter in exhibition games is not Sabathia’s priority. Avoiding a strained muscle in his rib cage is. That precise injury sidelined Sabathia for the first month of each of the past two seasons. Sabathia thinks golf might be the problem. “I don’t know if that was the reason I got hurt,” he said. “But I think it had something to do with it. So I’m definitely not playing this year. I can play more video games and throw more batting practice to little C.” Little C is Sabathia’s 3 ½-year-old son…

By the way, that five-year, $80 million extension would seem to be the starting point for any potential deal to keep Ichiro Suzuki in Seattle after this season. Suzuki is almost three years older than Young, but he’s also a career .331 hitter with speed and shows no signs of a drop-off…Mariners utility man Willie Bloomquist would love to play every day — but the idea isn’t enough to get him to cross the Pacific. At least two teams from the Japanese major leagues contacted Bloomquist’s agent over the winter to explore whether the Bremerton native had any interest in coming over. There is money to be made there, and Bloomquist has never been able to break through as an everyday player in the majors, but he said he didn’t give it serious consideration. He instead signed a two-year extension with Seattle for $1.875 million…

SS Robert Andino could be traded. Rumors have floated about a possible trade, but the Marlins won’t just give him away. It’s likely Andino is destined to begin the season at Triple A again, because the Marlins don’t want him sitting on the bench in Miami. Andino is only 22, and most scouts agree he still needs more discipline at the plate. The Marlins want him to get as many at-bats as possible, and that’s why unless Hanley Ramirez gets injured, Andino will wait again…Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, on Miguel Cabrera: ”If I can project 20 years from now, I hope I’m alive and sitting there at the Hall of Fame when he’s inducted. He [can be] an all-time great.” FYI: Cabrera said he wants 130 RBI this season. (His career high is 116)…

David Wright confirmed yesterday that he would gladly move to another position if Alex Rodriguez expressed an interest in joining the Mets. The Yankees third baseman can opt out of his $25 million-a-year contract after the coming season. “He’s Alex Rodriguez. He’s a Hall of Famer,” the Mets third baseman said yesterday. “I think it’s still a little premature. … If (general manager) Omar (Minaya) or someone approaches me and says, ‘Alex has an interest in coming to Queens,’ I’d be the first to offer to play anywhere they wanted me to. … You’re talking about (someone who), at the end of his career, is going to be one of the greatest players of all time.” Minaya laughed off such talk. Wright, whose comments were first reported in the Record of Hackensack yesterday, said he’d also consider moving — he didn’t say what position — to make room for Scott Rolen or Miguel Cabrera…El Duque a closer? It’s not as far-fetched an idea as you might think, according to Omar Minaya. The Mets GM said he was told by another GM that his team had targeted Orlando Hernandez in the off-season as their closer. The Mets signed Hernandez to a two-year contract in November. Minaya refused to name the GM or the team who told him that information…Pull up a chair, grab a knife and a fork and welcome to STEP — Spring Training Early Program — a 10-day, hip-deep indoctrination into the world of professional baseball that the Mets have put together the past few springs for a select group of their minor-leaguers. “These kids are stepping their way up the ladder and, hopefully, on their way to New York,” said Adam Wogan, the organization’s director of minor-league operations. “Everyone needs it.” The program is held at the team’s minor-league complex beginning two weeks before the full camp actually starts, and the players — who range in age from 18 to 25 — not only get a head start on honing their games. They also attend daily seminars focusing on life off the field that, for some, can often prove every bit as challenging as the game itself…

Ryan Zimmerman and his agent met with top officials from the Washington Nationals on Sunday morning, a meeting that Zimmerman described as “positive” but which didn’t result in a contract for the team’s star third baseman. “We weren’t going to decide on anything in one day,” Zimmerman said. “It was basically to talk. Talk is good. Everything is positive. There’s nothing negative going on. No one’s upset at each other and arguing or anything like that”…

Rick Dempsey, who recently took an announcing job with the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, arrived in Orioles camp for a month-long coaching stint. Last season, Dempsey was the bullpen coach and then moved to first base. “I’m just here to do whatever the ballclub wants me to do,” Dempsey said. “Throw batting practice, hit groundballs, run around, whatever. It’s just good to get to know a lot of the new guys”…

Cpl. Cooper Brannan, USMC, lost the little finger on his left hand while serving in Iraq. He now sometimes struggles to hold things with that hand, but figures it’s a small price to pay. Brannan will pitch in minor league games this month, said Padres Vice President of Scouting and Development Grady Fuson. How he shows will determine whether he remains with other minor leaguers in extended spring training or gets a spot in the lower minors. Brannan, whose fastball exceeds 90 mph, said he expects to reach the majors. Don’t expect him to refer to ballgames as “battles,” home runs as “bombs” or line drives as “bullets.” “There was nothing sugarcoated about my job,” he said…Cedric Hunter, widely regarded as the Padres’ top prospect, is nursing a gimpy elbow in his throwing arm. Hunter had an MRI this winter and was examined recently by team doctor Jan Fronek. Hunter is still expected to open the season as the center fielder for low-Single-A Fort Wayne, said Vice President of Scouting and Development Grady Fuson. Worst-case scenario, Fuson said, is that Hunter has surgery in September and performs as a designated hitter next spring…Goose Gossage, who has expressed dismay about his own omission from the Hall of Fame, is upset over the Veterans Committee’s resounding rejection of his former San Diego Padres manager Dick Williams last week. Williams, who received only 30% of the vote from the 82-man committee comprised mostly of Hall of Fame players, is one of only two managers in history to take three different teams to the World Series (Hall of Famer Bill McKechnie is the other) and had a major impact just about every place he managed – Boston, Montreal, Oakland and San Diego. “I can’t believe that,” Gossage said. “I don’t know what those guys were looking at. I only know Dick was the best manager I ever played for – by far – and I played for a lot of good managers. He knew the game inside and out and was one of the greatest minds I ever knew. He was a no-nonsense guy who hated mistakes, but you had to respect him”…

A representative Opening Day Phillies roster would have a total payroll of $95,265,500, consistent with where it’s been the last four seasons, according to figures compiled by the Daily News. That includes a $6 million installment to the White Sox, the second of four payments they will make totaling $22 million, as part of the Rowand-Jim Thome trade. That could change, of course, before the Phillies open their season at home against the Braves on April 2. There has been speculation that righthander Jon Lieber ($7.5 million) could be traded before the end of spring training. A year ago, the number at the start of the season was $94,615,000. At the end of the season, however, the team paid out an additional $1,730,839 in performance and award incentives. Only a half-dozen teams figure to have higher payrolls than the Phillies this year: the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Mets, Angels and Dodgers. Exactly where the Phillies rank won’t be determined until all the rosters are set and the final numbers are in. But they should be grouped with the defending world champion Cardinals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Astros, Giants and Mariners…Phils OF Jayson Werth had four at-bats yesterday at Bright House Networks Field. That makes it eight at-bats this spring – or eight more than he had in the last 17 months. He’s rusty. “It was rough out there today, no question about it,” Werth said after going hitless in a 10-5 loss to the New York Yankees. “I feel bad about it, but it will play itself out as we go. At least I’m on the field. At least I’m playing. I feel great.” Werth, who is still seeking his first hit, missed last season with an injured left wrist, but he said his wrist is healthy these days. Now it’s just a matter of getting back his timing and ability to recognize pitches. And to build his confidence. Werth is expected to open the season as the team’s fourth outfielder behind Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand and Shane Victorino…

The Pirates received a double-dose of good medical news yesterday. The team learned that outfielder Xavier Nady’s inflamed intestine was caused by a viral infection and not a chronic digestive disorder, representing his best-case scenario. That clears Nady to resume full activity — as he is ready — in plenty of time for the start of the season. And second baseman Jose Castillo, who had X-rays scheduled for today to check his sprained right foot, had those canceled after a fluid morning workout at McKechnie Field. He could play in a game “in the next couple days,” general manager Dave Littlefield said…Masumi Kuwata’s first taste of North American baseball was as dramatic as the diving plane of his pitches. The first Japanese player in Pirates history turned in a perfect third inning in a 10-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds yesterday at McKechnie Field. That was enough to steal the show, and not just because there were 70-plus Japanese media on hand to send the news back to the nation where Kuwata once was a superstar. “He was pretty good. Really good,” manager Jim Tracy said. “It was a definite bright spot on the day. He exemplified everything we’ve been talking about. The man’s been pitching for 21 years, and you could see by the inning he pitched that he 100 percent knows exactly what he’s doing”…

Left-hander Bruce Chen, a nonroster candidate to be the Rangers’ No. 5 starter, was excellent in a two-inning relief appearance Sunday. Chen retired all six batters he faced and struck out one. “I haven’t pitched in a long time,” Chen said. “For my first outing, it felt good. I want to prove I can help the team, and prove to myself I can be effective in the big leagues again”…

Having tried and failed to convince the Red Sox of the wisdom of extending his contract through 2008, Curt Schilling says he no longer is thinking money, talking money. And he wants others – fans, media – to do the same. “Sometimes, people put themselves in my place and act and react the way they would,” Schilling said. “But they have no idea what it’s like to be here. And they have no idea how, for me, how much effort I have to expend mentally and physically to get ready to pitch every fifth day. “There’s only 24 hours in a day and you can only think about so many things at one time. If I went in there and said to them to sign me for an open-ended contract, a (Tim) Wakefield contract, I’d be signed tomorrow. I get it. The money is the big problem with them. It’s a business decision and I understand it. I’m not going to worry about it”…In a perfect world, Red Sox manager Terry Francona would not be wondering this spring who will close games for his team this season. But Francona, like everyone else, is just going to have to wait for that pitcher’s identity to be revealed. One candidate, Joel Pineiro, has yet to pitch effectively. His effort in Saturday’s 12-9, 10-inning loss to Philadelphia – 1 1/3 innings, four hits, four runs, two walks, one home run – did not make the waiting game any easier. “It’s early,” Francona said. “I thought we saw some positives. There were just some things that need to be worked on, which happens. Spring training, that’s part of spring training. Certain guys you want them to get to the point where they’re ready to help you in the season…

The 24-year playing career of Pete Rose, the all-time major league hits leader, will be featured in a special exhibit, “PETE,” opening March 17 at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum, adjacent to Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The exhibit, scheduled to run throughout the baseball season, will cover 2,000 square feet, and will detail Rose’s major league playing career from his rookie season in 1963 through 1986…A young boy perched atop his father’s shoulders took home a rare souvenir Sunday. The father and son wore matching white T-shirts with “Hambone Fan Club” across the front in black iron-on letters in support of Reds outfielder Josh Hamilton. After he came out of the game, and before he signed some autographs outside the clubhouse at McKechnie Field, Hamilton signed and handed one of his bats to the boy. “Happy birthday, dude,” Hamilton said…

Steve Finley continues to start as a DH or center fielder so the Rockies can get a good read on him. If Finley isn’t placed on the 25-man roster by March 30, he can request his release…

In Denny McLain’s third autobiography, due out this week, he still comes off like a self-absorbed jerk, ripping his 1968 world champion Tigers, in particular Al Kaline, who he says wasn’t the most liked guy on the team, and manager Mayo Smith, who he says often wasn’t sober until the fourth inning…

Johan Santana said he is waiting to begin talks with the Twins on a contract extension. Negotiations are expected to begin sometime this month. “The sooner, the better,” said Santana, who has two seasons remaining on a four-year, $40 million deal. “I feel more than comfortable here”…Twins 1B Justin Morneau said Sunday that he expects to resume negotiations this week with the Twins regarding a multiyear contract, and he’s optimistic a deal could get done by the end of spring training. “It would be nice,” Morneau said. Morneau said his agent, Mark Pieper, is scheduled to arrive in Fort Myers on Tuesday as part of his annual spring training trip to visit his clients. Morneau has asked Pieper to schedule a meeting with Twins general manager Terry Ryan to resume contract talks after the sides were unable to agree on a multiyear deal during the offseason. Ryan declined comment Sunday. Morneau would not comment on specifics. It is believed Morneau would agree to a deal comparable to the four-year, $33 million contract Twins catcher Joe Mauer signed last month. In order for a deal to get done with Morneau, it likely will have to include a club option for a fifth year. That is because Morneau is considered a “Super 2,” allowing him the possibility of being arbitration eligible for four years instead of the typical three…Twins first baseman Justin Morneau informed Sid Hartman Sunday that he never was offered the same four-year, $33 million contract that catcher Joe Mauer accepted. The American League MVP didn’t say whether he would have accepted such an offer. But Morneau sounded optimistic that he would sign a long-term deal in the near future. “I was definitely never offered that — so it was interesting when I read that and my agent read that,” Morneau said. “And I think it was probably interesting when Terry [Ryan, the team’s general manager] read that, too.” Morneau said his agent, Mark Pieper, is talking to Ryan about getting a deal done. “I think we’re pretty close; we’re hopefully going to get it done,” Morneau said…Did You Know? Tuesday is the one-year anniversary of Kirby Puckett’s death. The hall of famer and former Twin would have turned 47 on March 14…Johan Santana has been trying to get his Twins teammate and good buddy Carlos Silva to understand something: He can no longer make a living off the sinkerball. “You cannot live in this game with just one pitch as a starter,” Santana said. “He knows that, and now he’s working on it.” Santana is working with Silva on trying to develop a changeup, one of three pitches the two-time Cy Young winner throws…

Reacting to a story that ran in the Sun-Times on Feb. 21, manager Ozzie Guillen shook things up Friday morning when he appeared on “The Mike North Morning Show” on WSCR-AM (670). It was in a piece by Chris De Luca that former Sox pitcher Brandon McCarthy said life was better for him in his new Texas Rangers clubhouse and that he was in a more positive environment. When North brought up McCarthy’s name during the Guillen interview, the Sox skipper wasted little time making his feelings known. “I don’t want to talk about Mac because he made a couple of comments — I really hate him,” Guillen told North. “I don’t like the comments he made about our clubhouse, about our players, about [us] negative people here. There’s one thing about Ozzie Guillen: Ozzie Guillen is never negative.” Guillen told North he wouldn’t have minded if McCarthy, who was traded to the Rangers in December, only had said something bad about Guillen, but he said talking about the clubhouse and his former teammates was over the line. “Obviously he wasn’t in the position he liked to be,” Guillen said on the show. “Well, we didn’t want him in the bullpen, but that was the only spot we had. If Brandon McCarthy thought he was better than the five guys I had, he’s wrong. You played with us 162 games and all of a sudden you leave and say you don’t have a friend in the clubhouse? Only Brian Anderson? Well, he picked the wrong guy to be friends with. People forgot that Brandon McCarthy got caught a couple of times out at night. I called him into my office and said, ‘You been hanging around the city a lot, huh?’ I said, ‘I don’t have a spy on you, but I know a lot of people in the bars in Chicago. I’ve been here for 20 years, and they will tell me everything.'” Guillen later added, “He forgot he lost a couple of games for us. He lost at least five of the 72. We might be in the playoffs without him”…Several White Sox players relish the possibility of having their spring-training facility closer to the Cubs’ spring home as soon as 2009. The anticipated move wouldn’t guarantee the Sox and Cubs would play more than their annual two exhibition games, but the Sox say players and Chicago fans would benefit from the shift to Glendale. “If fans want to go to an away game, they don’t have to travel two hours by car to see it,” said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who was excused from Sunday’s game against the Cubs at HoHoKam Park but will play Monday against Milwaukee in Maryvale. “Or they don’t have to plan their vacation to Phoenix for just one day. … They get it right there instead of driving back and forth”…

Today, Carl Pavano is Joe Torre’s fourth or fifth starter. But there are voices within the organization that believe if Pavano is healthy, he should be dealt. Seattle, Colorado and St. Louis were interested during the winter and the Braves, Mets and White Sox had scouts at yesterday’s game. Pavano, who has given the Yankees 17 games (4-6; 4.77 ERA) for the $40 million they dumped on him following the 2004 season, has $22.95 million remaining on the contract. He earns $10 million this year, $11 million in 2008 and there is a $1.95 million option on a $15 million option the Yankees won’t pick up in 2009…Wil Nieves entered camp as the favorite to be Jorge Posada’s backup because he was on the roster and the Yankees were familiar with his talents. Yesterday, he helped his chances by throwing out Jimmy Rollins trying to steal second and produced a hit-and-run single. “That was really good, he got rid of that ball really well,” Torre said. “That was certainly a nice hash mark on his side.” Todd Pratt, Ben Davis and Raul Chavez are also in the picture…If Babe Ruth had played under today’s rules in stadiums with today’s shorter outfield dimensions, he would have hit 104 home runs in a 162-game season for the 1921 New York Yankees. That’s the conclusion of Bill Jenkinson in his new book, The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs. He chronicles each of Ruth’s 714 career home runs in the major leagues – when they were hit, where they were hit and even how far they were hit. … The major leagues had no black players when Ruth played, but the author thinks Ruth’s overall competition was “about the same” as today’s players face because the top white athletes then had fewer options (basketball and football weren’t nearly as popular as they are today and baseball really was the national pastime). He points out that most of the great black players in the segregated major leagues have been hitters and not pitchers, suggesting that Ruth would not have faced significantly better overall pitching if he had played against black athletes in the majors…Even though Andy Phillips has missed the past four days to be with his mother, who was severely injured in a car accident last Wednesday in Alabama, Joe Torre said Phillips’ chances of earning a spot on the Yankees haven’t suffered too much. In fact, Torre declared yesterday that the spot is Phillips’ to lose, despite his absence. “The competition is based on … if we have a better option than Andy,” Torre said. “We already have some stuff in the bank with Andy.” Phillips’ competition at first base, Josh Phelps, has seen plenty of action the past few days, but Torre said Phillips still has “a little bit of an inside track” on the job as the righty-hitting first baseman. “The fact that he’s been here will certainly work in his favor,” Torre said…

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