Sosa Finds Power Stroke Against Royals

Sunday, March 4th 2007, 9:58 pm

By: News On 6

Sammy Sosa found his power stroke, Kenny Rogers finally gave up a run and the Arizona Diamondbacks made it two triple plays in one weekend at spring training.

Showing he still has a few big swings in his bat, Sosa hit his first home run in 19 months Sunday to help the Texas Rangers beat the Kansas City Royals 5-0 in Surprise, Ariz.

``It was good to get the first one out of the way,'' said Sosa, attempting a comeback after sitting out last season. ``That was huge for me. Everyone wanted me to do that.''

The former Chicago Cubs slugger, who has 588 career homers, drove a 1-1 pitch from Luke Hudson over the left-center fence to lead off the 2nd inning. It was Sosa's first home run since Aug. 4, 2005, with Baltimore.

Sosa signed a minor league contract with the Rangers, his original team, during the offseason. He struck out and flied out in his other two at-bats Sunday. He started in right field after being Texas' designated hitter Saturday and in a ``B'' game Friday.

``I feel a lot more relaxed,'' Sosa said. ``I feel physically stronger.''

Rogers is enjoying himself, too.

The much-maligned left-hander, who pitched 23 straight scoreless innings in the 2006 postseason, gave up 2-runs _ one earned _ and 3-hits for Detroit in a 7-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Winter Haven, Fla.

After tossing 2-innings in his first start of the spring, he spent an hour signing autographs and chatting with fans before heading to the clubhouse.

``It's a beautiful day. I'm content and having the most fun ever,'' said the 42-year-old Rogers, preparing for his 19th major league season after leading the Tigers to the World Series last year.

``I've changed my spring approach to not being concerned about getting people out,'' he said. ``I work on getting one pitch refined, then another, then another.''

Rogers struggled a bit with his command. He hit one batter with a pitch and walked another in the 1st inning. He gave up 2-hits and a second run in the 2nd, but avoided more trouble by getting Grady Sizemore to hit into a double play.

``I just didn't know where my pitches were going,'' Rogers said.

At Tucson, Ariz., the Diamondbacks turned a triple play and beat the Seattle Mariners 6-4 in a split-squad game _ the second triple play in two days at spring training.

With runners on 1st and 2nd and none out in the 2nd inning, Michael Garciaparra lined Edgar Gonzalez's pitch to shortstop Stephen Drew. He stepped on 2nd base to retire Mike Morse, then threw to 1st baseman Tony Clark to get Michael Wilson and complete the triple play.

Garciaparra is the younger brother of Los Angeles Dodgers star Nomar Garciaparra.

``It was amazing,'' Gonzalez said. ``It's the first time in my life I've been in the game'' for a triple play.

Yet it was the second triple play in Tucson in two days. The Los Angeles Angels turned one against the Colorado Rockies at Hi Corbett Field on Saturday.

``I just reacted,'' said Drew, who had never seen a triple play in person. ``It happened so quick. It was a unique thing.''

In other news, Royals 2nd baseman Mark Grudzielanek will have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Monday and is expected to begin the season on the disabled list.

In other spring training games:

Red Sox 6, Twins 1

At Fort Myers, Fla., it was Johan Santana vs. Curt Schilling. Sounded like a potential matchup for Game 1 of a playoff series.

Both aces were effective. Making his first start of spring training, Santana allowed 1-run and 3-hits in 2-innings. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner walked 3, struck out 2 and wriggled out of a 1st-inning jam.

Schilling, making his second start this spring, worked on his changeup _ a pitch he might add to his repertoire this season, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. Schilling earned the win by pitching 3 1-3 innings. He threw 48 pitches and gave up 2-hits, including a solo homer to Michael Cuddyer.

Yankees 10, Phillies 5

At Clearwater, Fla., Carl Pavano took a big step forward by simply staying healthy.

The oft-injured Yankees pitcher allowed 1-run, 2-hits and 2-walks in 2 innings during his first spring training start. The right-hander was on the mound eight days after his left instep was bruised by a line drive during batting practice.

Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels gave up 2-hits in 3-scoreless innings.

Reds 10, Pirates 4

At Bradenton, Fla., Scott Hatteberg hit a 2-run homer off Pittsburgh starter Shawn Chacon, and Josh Hamilton had 2-more hits. Hamilton is 8-15 in four games with the Reds, who grabbed him in the Rule 5 draft and are giving him a chance to overcome years of drug addiction.

Reds infielder Jeff Keppinger broke the ring finger on his right hand when he was hit by a pitch in the 5th inning. He's expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks.

Astros 9, Nationals (ss) 2

At Kissimmee, Fla., Jason Lane went 2-3 with an RBI double and a walk. He is batting .363 with 2-homers and 3-RBIs this spring as he faces a crowded competition for the right-field job.

Cardinals 12, Marlins 3

At Jupiter, Fla., Anthony Reyes pitched 2-scoreless innings and the defending World Series champions got 2-hits apiece from Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen.

Blue Jays 7, Devil Rays 4

At St. Petersburg, Fla., Jae Kuk Ryu limited Toronto to a single in 2-shutout innings.

Orioles 6, Mets 3

At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Melvin Mora drove in 4-runs with a pair of doubles. New York starter John Maine, a former Oriole, pitched 2-scoreless innings.

Nationals (ss) 6, Dodgers (ss) 2

At Viera, Fla., Matt Chico pitched 3-shutout innings for Washington and first-year manager Manny Acta earned his first Grapefruit League win.

Braves 4, Dodgers (ss) 1

At Vero Beach, Fla., Chuck James allowed 1-run and 3-hits in 2-innings for Atlanta. Dodgers starter Derek Lowe gave up 2-runs and 4-hits in 2-innings.

Athletics 4, Padres 3

At Peoria, Ariz., Greg Maddux was missing his pinpoint control during his San Diego debut, but he was still pretty effective. Maddux allowed 2-walks and 4-baserunners in 2-scoreless innings.

Oakland's Rich Harden, expected to be the team's opening day starter, struck out 5-in 2-impressive innings. Padres 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez went 3r-3 with an opposite-field homer and a double.

White Sox 13, Cubs 2

At Mesa, Ariz., Paul Konerko hit 2-solo homers, Jermaine Dye added a 3-run shot and Jon Garland pitched 3-scoreless innings. Derrek Lee hit his first homer of the spring for the Cubs.

Giants 5, Mariners (ss) 4

At Scottsdale, Ariz., Kevin Frandsen homered off Seattle starter Jeff Weaver and drove in 3-runs. Barry Bonds stayed home with the flu.

Angels 5, Brewers 4

At Tempe, Ariz., Kelvim Escobar pitched 2-scoreless innings, allowing only a single for Los Angeles. He said his left knee felt fine after he was bothered by tendinitis earlier this spring.

Milwaukee All-Star Chris Capuano lasted only 1 2-3 innings, allowing 3-runs, 4-hits and 3-walks. He gave up a homer to Casey Kotchman.

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