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Schilling Back on Mound; Gagne Hurts Knee

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Curt Schilling wasn't too happy after throwing off a mound for the first time since winning Game 2 of the World Series.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are hoping closer Eric Gagne will be able to pitch again soon after he sprained a ligament in his left knee during the team's first full-squad workout of spring training.

Schilling, who had ankle surgery 16 days after he beat St. Louis in the World Series, threw 47 pitches during a 16-minute workout at Fort Myers, Fla.

``This was a day when I didn't feel as good as I wanted to feel,'' Schilling said. ``My ankle didn't hurt, so I guess that's a positive for people other than me.''

Pitching opening day against the New York Yankees on April 3 _ probably against former Arizona teammate Randy Johnson _ remains a possibility, and Schilling's competitive nature is driving him toward that. But he wants to make sure he's healthy at a much more important time.

``I think he looked terrific,'' Boston manager Terry Francona said. ``He wants to be dotting every corner right now and throwing splits, and that's just not going to happen.''

Schilling's 21-6 record and 3.26 ERA in his first season with Boston boosted the Red Sox into the playoffs, where his bloody sock became the symbol of his determination to do whatever he could to help them win the World Series for the first time in 86 years.

He had one of the worst outings of his career in the first game of the AL championship series, allowing six runs in three innings of a 10-7 loss to the Yankees. Before his next start, a tendon that had been slipping out of place was stitched to his skin.

With blood seeping through the sutures, Schilling allowed one run in seven innings during Boston's 4-2 win. The procedure was repeated before his next and last start, when he allowed no earned runs in six innings of a 6-2 victory.

In Vero Beach, Fla., Gagne didn't seem particularly concerned about his injury, but trainer Stan Johnston said the 29-year-old right-hander probably will have his activity limited for about a week. Johnston said the injury needs about six weeks to fully heal.

``I turned around and a cleat got stuck,'' said Gagne, who will undergo an MRI exam. ``I just twisted my knee a little bit. I'm not concerned. There's no swelling, and that's a really good sign. I don't want to start aggravating anything. It's early in camp.''

Infielder Norihiro Nakamura, signed to a minor league contract, was not in camp because of visa problems. Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said he had no idea when Nakamura, a 31-year-old veteran of 13 seasons with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes in Japan's Pacific League, would report.

In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro is leaving open the possibility of filing a lawsuit against Jose Canseco, who said he introduced the first baseman to steroids in 1992 when both players were with the Texas Rangers.

Canseco cited Palmeiro as a steroid user in his new book. In an interview on the CBS television show ``60 Minutes,'' Canseco said he injected the drug into Palmeiro.

Palmeiro issued a statement last month in which he denied ever using steroids, and he emphatically backed up that assertion Thursday after his first practice of spring training. Palmeiro also said he's considered hiring the law firm of Orioles owner Peter Angelos to take legal action against Canseco.

``The one thing I can say is I have the best law firm and the best lawyer standing in the wings in Peter Angelos,'' he said. ``I have options available for me. He stands behind me and he's ready. I will look at all my options and I'll decide.''

In Mesa, Ariz., Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker and some of his players were disputing some comments Sammy Sosa made when he reported to the Baltimore Orioles' camp.

At a news conference Wednesday, Sosa was asked about comments by Cubs players who said he and the team were better off following the Feb. 2 trade. Sosa apparently interpreted that as the Cubs saying they didn't need him anymore.

``They lie,'' Sosa was quoted as saying in several newspapers.

The Cubs insisted Thursday that's not what they said or meant.

``Did I say that?'' asked Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood. ``I never did say it, so apparently somebody else lies. Not him. I'm not talking about him. I never said we were better without Sammy. I said I think both teams got better in the offseason not because we got rid of Sammy but because of some other moves we made.''
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