Sosa Hits Homer, Clemens Checks In On Pal Pettitte

Thursday, March 8th 2007, 5:51 am
By: News On 6

Sammy Sosa's chances of playing in the majors this season are looking better every day. The chances of Roger Clemens doing the same are _ still _ anybody's guess.

Sosa homered for the second time in spring training, going 2-for-3 Wednesday in the Rangers' 9-8 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Surprise, Ariz.

The 38-year-old Sosa, who didn't play in the major leagues last season, hit a three-run homer that capped a six-run third off former World Series MVP Livan Hernandez.

``The more games I play, the better I feel,'' Sosa said. ``The confidence is here, and I know I can hit. I believe in myself, and just keep working every day.''

The Rangers signed Sosa, who is fifth on the career list with 588 homers, to a minor league contract. Since going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in a ``B'' game Friday, Sosa is 5-for-12 with two homers and four RBIs in four games.

Hernandez gave up nine runs _ seven earned _ and 10 hits in 3 1-3 innings. He struck out one and walked none.

``I never have a good spring,'' Hernandez said. ``I'm just coming to get my work in and make sure I'm 100 percent for the season.''

At Tampa, Fla., Clemens dropped by Legends Field to watch his friend and former teammate, Andy Pettitte, make his second spring training start for the Yankees. And they both got a scare three pitches into the game.

Pettitte allowed three hits over three scoreless innings in New York's 1-1, 10-inning tie with the Cincinnati Reds.

Pettitte got hit on the ring finger of his pitching hand by the barrel of Chris Denorfia's broken bat in the first. The bat caused a small cut on the finger, but the left-hander remained in the game.

Clemens again said he hasn't decided if he will return for a 24th major league season. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner said he won't make a decision until early May. Should he return, Clemens will choose among the Yankees, Astros and Boston. He visited for a couple minutes with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in the owner's suite.

Mark Kotsay won't make his debut this season until at least May. The Oakland Athletics center fielder will have arthroscopic surgery on his back Thursday. He said there is no exact timetable for his return to the defending AL West champions, but it likely will take eight to 12 weeks of recovery time.

At Peoria, Ariz., Barry Bonds made a rare spring training trip and was in a jovial mood.

Bonds went 1-for-2 with a double and a strikeout in a San Francisco Giants split squad's 5-4 win over the Seattle Mariners.

He made the 45-minute trek across metropolitan Phoenix after missing three games because of a bad cold. He blew a kiss in the direction of the Mariners' dugout before his first at-bat, then blooped his second pitch from Felix Hernandez to shallow left field.

As the ball landed between third baseman Mike Morse and left fielder Raul Ibanez, the 42-year-old Bonds kept running to second base. His popup slide easily beat Ibanez's throw, and seemed to surprise the Mariners and even his teammates.

``Yeah, that was a good looking run,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ``He feels great. He's happy with the way his legs are feeling.''

It showed. After Bengie Molina lined out to end the first inning, Bonds exchanged a smile and a handshake with Hernandez when their paths crossed at the third-base line.

``How are you?'' Bonds asked Hernandez.

``That's never happened to me before,'' the 20-year-old Hernandez said later, marveling.

At Port St. Lucie, Fla., New York Mets ace Pedro Martinez threw a baseball for the first time since rotator cuff surgery last October. He lightly tossed a ball for about 10 minutes from a distance of about 45 feet at the Mets' minor league complex.

``He looked good,'' said Randy Niemann, the Mets' rehabilitation pitching coordinator. ``It's just the beginning. It's the start of a long process, but he looked really good.''

At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kris Benson said he was experiencing increased soreness in his right shoulder, a development that means he may need surgery on his torn rotator cuff.

``I had a rough couple days,'' Benson said. ``I don't know if it's just a little bump that I'm going through or what, but the last couple days have been pretty sore. ... Whenever it gets flared up like it is, it's tough to get that range of motion.''

In other games:

Braves 4, Tigers 4, 11 innings

At Lakeland, Fla., Atlanta starter John Smoltz was hit on the chest by Curtis Granderson's drive in the third. Smoltz, who caught the ball after it hit his chest, was on the ground for several minutes but stayed in the game and got the final out of the inning. Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said Smoltz was sore but shouldn't miss a start. Smoltz allowed three hits in three scoreless innings with a strikeout and no walks.

Red Sox 9, Mets 5

At Fort Myers, Fla., Chan Ho Park started for the Mets after getting his visa. Signed as a free agent on Feb. 9, Park rebounded from a one-run first inning and allowed just a single in his other two.

Astros 5, Nationals 2

At Kissimmee, Fla., Houston's Roy Oswalt allowed four hits in three innings, throwing 43 of 60 pitches for strikes.

Marlins (ss) 2, Orioles 2

At Jupiter, Fla., Dontrelle Willis allowed one runner in three innings for the Marlins, giving up only a single in his second outing of spring training.

Cardinals 11, Dodgers (ss) 1

At Vero Beach, Fla., Los Angeles closer Takashi Saito made his spring training debut, pitching a scoreless fifth. Brad Penny gave up four runs, four singles and a walk in the first inning, then allowed Chris Duncan's two-run homer in the second.

Phillies 6, Blue Jays 3, 10 innings

At Clearwater, Fla., Brennan King, Pat Burrell and Wes Helms homered for Philadelphia. Blue Jays starter Gustavo Chacin had his best outing of spring training, throwing three shutout innings.

Pirates 5, Twins 2

At Fort Myers, Jason Bay, recovering from offseason surgery on his left knee, went 0-for-3 as the Pirates' designated hitter in his first spring training appearance.

Indians 10, Devil Rays 2

At St. Petersburg, Fla., non-roster invitee Luis Rivas had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and an RBI for Cleveland.

Dodgers (ss) 10, Marlins 0 (ss)

At Jupiter, Fla., the Marlins committed five errors, allowed three home runs and managed only six hits in falling to 1-7-1. Delwyn Young, Tony Abreu and Jason Repko each hit solo home runs for the Dodgers.

Cubs 9, Athletics 8

At Mesa, Ariz., Chicago's Alfonso Soriano led off the bottom of the first with his first home run of spring training. Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano struggled with his command over three innings, walking three, striking out three and hitting a batter. He allowed both of his runs in the second, when he hit Antonio Perez with a pitch to start the inning.

Angels 6, Padres 4

At Tempe, Ariz., Howie Kendrick tripled, doubled, drove in one run and scored another for the Angels.

Brewers (ss) 8, Rockies 2

At Tucson, Ariz., Byung-Hyun Kim gave up four runs, four hits and four walks in 2 1-3 innings for Colorado. Loser Josh Fogg allowed three runs and six hits in three innings, struck out three and walked none.

Giants (ss) 15, Brewers (ss) 6

At Phoenix, Tim Lincecum gave up three runs in two innings for the Giants. San Francisco's Jason Ellison had his streak of consecutively reaching base end at 10 after flying out in the seventh.

Royals 10, White Sox 5

At Tucson, Chicago pitcher Jose Contreras allowed two runs and five hits over four innings, struck out six and walked one, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the first.