Piniella Looking for More From Cubs

Tuesday, March 6th 2007, 7:49 am
By: News On 6

Lou Piniella won't stand for sloppiness _ even in spring training.

It took only four exhibition games (all losses) for the Chicago Cubs' new manager to call a team meeting Monday morning and demand improvement from his players.

``We got into it a bit,'' Piniella said.

Then, oft-injured pitcher Mark Prior got hit hard in his 2007 debut. But Kerry Wood and Ted Lilly pitched well in a 6-5 win over the Seattle Mariners.

``We've got some work to do. This is not some push-button operation,'' Piniella said, chuckling. ``I'm starting to figure that out.

``(The meeting) was positive _ but we want some things done here. We want to see things done the right way, so we can get ready,'' said Piniella, who replaced Dusty Baker on the bench.

Prior, who missed most of 2006 during a third consecutive season of injuries, started for the first time since August. He allowed three earned runs and got just four outs in Peoria, Ariz.

``I just wasn't finishing my pitches,'' Prior said. ``The most important thing for me is this is the first time in almost 2 1/2 years I wasn't more worried about my arm than facing batters.''

Throwing 95 mph fastballs and sharp sliders, Wood retired the Mariners in order in the fifth.

``After I saw him throw the first five or six pitches I said, 'I had a good day already,''' Piniella said, smiling.

Lilly, Chicago's $40 million free-agent acquisition, pitched two scoreless innings.

``Kind of hit-and-miss,'' he said. ``I got away with a couple of pitches.''

At Fort Myers, Fla., Boston left-hander Jon Lester retired the three batters he faced on eight pitches in the first inning of a ``B'' game against the Minnesota Twins. He threw six fastballs for strikes in the 88-90 mph range. He also threw two curveballs in the dirt for balls.

Lester missed the final month last season with anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a type of cancer in the body's lymph system, but is now cancer-free.

``I was trying to throw as hard as I could,'' Lester said. ``I was trying to make it as gamelike as possible and get that adrenaline going again.''

In the regular game, Josh Beckett pitched three shutout innings and Hideki Okajima added one scoreless inning for Boston, which beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1.

In other games:

Twins 4, Devil Rays 2

At St. Petersburg, Fla., Minnesota right-hander Matt Garza left after facing two batters because of a sore neck. Garza allowed a single and a walk in the fourth. Garza, 3-6 with a 5.76 ERA last year, has been bothered by the neck for more than a week and was expected to visit a doctor Tuesday.

Yankees 6, Tigers 5

At Tampa, Fla., Kei Igawa allowed two runs, two hits and three walks in his spring training debut for the Yankees. Igawa struck out three and faced eight batters, lasting one-plus inning. New York closer Mariano Rivera worked a perfect third in his first spring training appearance. He had two strikeouts.

Reds 9, Phillies 8

At Sarasota, Fla., Philadelphia's Jon Lieber struck out three and allowed three hits in two scoreless innings. Cincinnati's Paul Wilson, trying to regain a rotation spot following a shoulder injury, gave up five runs and seven hits in 2 2-3 innings.

Braves 14, Nationals 5

At Kissimmee, Fla., Lance Cormier allowed one hit in three scoreless innings and has given up two runs in five innings this spring as he competes with Kyle Davies for the final spot in the Braves' rotation.

Pirates 8, Blue Jays 8, tie, 10 innings

At Dunedin, Fla., Brad Eldred homered in his third consecutive game and Zach Duke allowed two runs and two hits in three innings for Pittsburgh.

Astros 5, Cardinals 0

At Jupiter, Fla., Houston's Fernando Nieve pitched two hitless innings and didn't show any signs of the forearm and elbow soreness that bothered him last year. St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright pitched four hitless innings, walked two and struck out one.

Orioles 5, Marlins 3

At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Adam Loewen struck out five over two scoreless innings for the Orioles. Florida's Ricky Nolasco was scratched with back spasms as a precaution, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. Gonzalez said Nolasco could throw on the side by the middle of the week.

Indians 2, Mets 1

At Port St. Lucie, Fla., Jake Westbrook pitched two shutout innings against the Mets' projected starters, and Jhonny Peralta had two hits and two RBIs.

Brewers 4, White Sox 3

At Phoenix, Jeff Suppan needed only 35 pitches to get through three innings in his first spring training appearance for Milwaukee. Suppan, whose $42 million, four-year contract is the largest in Brewers history, gave up one run and two hits.

Royals 9, Padres 4

At Surprise, Ariz., Kansas City left-hander Jorge De La Rosa was hit on his pitching hand by Todd Walker's third-inning line drive. The ball struck De La Rosa's ring and little fingers, but he was fine, Royals manager Buddy Bell said.

Diamondbacks 9, Giants 0

At Tucson, Ariz., Russ Ortiz allowed two runs in 2 1-3 innings against his former team. Ortiz did not yield a hit but walked three and struck out one. Barry Zito gave up one run _ on a balk _ and three hits in three innings during his second spring start.

Athletics 8, Angels 7

At Tempe, Ariz., Oakland's Brad Halsey allowed two runs and three hits in two innings in his second start this spring.

Rangers 8, Rockies 2

At Tucson, Ariz., Todd Helton returned to the lineup and immediately flashed his sweet swing. After missing two games with inflammation in his right knee, the Colorado slugger had two hits and an RBI.

Texas starter Robinson Tejeda pitched two shutout innings and former Rockies catcher Miguel Ojeda hit a two-run homer.