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Alou Expects Spotlight to Be on Bonds

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ San Francisco Giants manager Felipe Alou understands there will be even more attention on his team this spring because of the steroid suspicion surrounding Barry Bonds.

``If you're good, you're good _ whether it is the era of the steroids, or the cigars, or the hot dog, or the beer, or the amphetamine, or the red juice, or the whiskey,'' Alou said as his team reported Thursday in Scottsdale, Ariz. ``He's been through the death of Bobby, his dad, along with the steroid stuff. I expect for him to just show up and swing the bat and hit.''

In Mesa, Ariz., Cubs manager Dusty Baker said he reached out to Sammy Sosa after the outfielder was traded to Baltimore, seeking to understand why his relationship with the All-Star came apart at the end of last season.

``I got hold of him and we had a short conversation. I wished him well. I did ask him, I said, `Hey, man, I'm still bewildered about what happened and why,' and he didn't really have an answer,'' Baker said Thursday before Chicago's first workout of the spring.

``He said, `It's in the past, good luck and God bless you.' And that was the extent of the conversation.''

Curt Schilling arrived at the Red Sox camp in Fort Myers on Thursday, saying he hopes to recover from ankle surgery in time to pitch Boston's April 3 opener at _ where else? _ Yankee Stadium, possibly against former Arizona teammate Randy Johnson.

After Schilling and Pedro Martinez helped lead Boston to its first title in 86 years, Martinez left to sign with the New York Mets. Schilling said he enjoyed pitching with Pedro a lot more than Martinez liked pitching alongside him.

``I think that was pretty obvious at the end, not while it was happening. But I guess when you look at what he said afterwards, it was obvious that it wasn't as fun of a thing for him as it was for me,'' Schilling said. ``When the playoffs came and he made the comment about somebody having to have a lot of guts to come up and tell him he wasn't going to pitch Game 1, that kind of told me where we were at.''

New Boston teammate David Wells, who helped New York win two AL pennants and one World Series, got right into the swing of the Red Sox-Yankees sniping, saying Alex Rodriguez ``has to earn it'' and admitting he didn't get along with Yankees manager Joe Torre.

``I remember reading the press conference or something when he went there,'' Wells said of A-Rod. ``He said: `When we.' He said a `we' in his comment about like he's won like three or four rings with them and he hadn't, and that kind of disturbed me.

``He shouldn't put himself in that category,'' added Wells. ``You've got to earn it. It's like he's been there the whole time. But you can't take away what A-Rod has done for the game. He's a great player, and he will continue to be a great player.''

Wells remembered difficult times with Torre and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre.

``I've never had a good relationship with Joe,'' he said. ``We've had a few run-ins and Mel Stottlemyre as well, and Mel's probably the best pitching coach I probably ever had. But just when you have run-ins like that, it just leaves a sour taste, and who needs it?''

At the Yankees' camp, Randy Johnson playfully got into it, too. The Big Unit said he didn't think that merely by signing with the Yankees he'd join A-Rod as a target of the Red Sox and their fans.

``I haven't done anything to them,'' he said.

Not yet, but his job is to lead the Yankees to their first title since 2000 and deny the Red Sox a second straight World Series championship.

``So they'll be mad at me if I pitch well against them? Bring it on then,'' he said, laughing.

In Viera, Fla., the new Washington Nationals held their first workout for pitchers and catchers following the team's move from Montreal. Players more or less used to performing in a vacuum are having every throw filmed by seven television cameras.

``It was a little strange during stretch seeing everybody out there,'' reliever Joey Eischen said. ``Being an Expo, being here a long time, I've never seen that. I've been in a lot of other camps. I've been with 11 other pro teams. It would equate a little bit with the Yankees.''

In Peoria, Ariz., new Mariners manager Mike Hargrove didn't like his cap as he watched his team work out for the first time.

``The hat's killing me,'' he said with a laugh. ``The person who designed these hats should be drawn and quartered, but the Seattle colors are nice. That part, I like.''

In Lakeland, new Detroit Tigers closer Troy Percival was the first player to report, at 6:30 a.m. The Tigers also learned that reliever Ugueth Urbina would not be in camp until at least early next week.

Urbina's mother disappeared Sept. 1 from her home in Urbina's native Caracas, Venezuela. A senior Venezuelan senior police official has confirmed news reports that the amount of ransom demanded was about $3 million.

Urbina left the Tigers last September for Venezuela following his mother's disappearance. He has declined to comment on the case.
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