- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon are rounding into form right in time for the Chicago White Sox. Washington slugger Ryan Zimmerman also is ready for the season to start and is determined to eliminate a potential distraction.

Contreras threw four shutout innings and Colon followed with five more, leading the White Sox over the Arizona Diamondbacks 2-0 on Saturday at Chase Field.

Contreras gave up one single while throwing 55 pitches, and Colon gave up three singles and walked one while throwing 72 pitches. Question marks entering the spring, the two have made Chicago’s starting rotation behind Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd and John Danks.

Contreras, who underwent surgery after suffering a season-ending Achilles’ injury Aug. 8, was 3-0 with a 5.82 ERA in 17 innings. Colon (0-2, 6.60) hasn’t pitched a full season since winning 21 games and the AL Cy Young Award in 2005 because of shoulder, elbow and oblique muscle injuries. He had surgery to remove bone chips in the offseason.

“These guys are basically finishing their third week of spring training,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “It was important for us to get their pitches up, and we did that with both guys. On top of that, we got command and performance. It’s nice when everything you kind of hope to happen happens.

“They’ve been climbing. There are reasonable expectations for us to say that they can continue to climb, both in stuff and command.”

Manager Ozzie Guillen hasn’t yet determined the order of his rotation, other than Buehrle being the opening-day starter.

“I want to check out the matchups when we get to Chicago (on Sunday),” Guillen said. “That way, I’ll have a better idea. I want to see who they are going to face if they go ‘4’ and ‘5.’ No matter who is ‘4’ or’ 5,’ I really don’t care. You are No. 1 when you are on the mound. … The way they threw made a lot of people in this locker room very excited.”

Facing his former team, Diamondbacks starter Jon Garland gave up one run in four innings in his final spring tuneup, giving up four hits and walking four.

“It’s probably the best I’ve felt all spring,” Garland said, “and I’m not just saying that because we’re at the end. My mechanics felt real good. A walk every inning, to me that’s not acceptable. I’m a contact pitcher. I need to get it over the plate and put it in play.”

Zimmerman said before the Nationals’ 5-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles that he would like long-term contract talks to end when the regular season begins.

The Nationals play the Florida Marlins in Game 1 on Monday.

“Once the season starts, it’s a team thing, and not an individual thing,” Zimmerman told The Associated Press. “The last thing I need is to be worrying about something other than trying to help us win. I truly believe that. That’s how we’re going to do it: Once the games start, it’s over with.”

Zimmerman agreed to a $3,325,000, one-year deal just before his arbitration case was due to be heard in February.

After that, the two sides agreed to pursue something more significant.

“I have not talked to my agent in a couple days,” Zimmerman said Saturday. “I’m sure they’ve talked in the last couple of days, but nothing urgent enough to get me involved. I don’t worry too much about it. Both sides want the same thing.”

Team president Stan Kasten said he wouldn’t object to continuing the talks beyond opening day.

“I wouldn’t have a fixed deadline like that. I never have,” Kasten said.

“As of right now, we don’t have anything to report. I’m not going to speculate as to when we might _ or whether we might.”

Yankees 10, Cubs 1

At New York, Mark Teixeira homered twice and drove in four runs to lead the Yankees to the victory. Derek Jeter added a three-run shot and the Bronx Bombers opened their glitzy new ballpark by sweeping a pair of exhibition games from Chicago.

Rays 9, Phillies 7

At Philadelphia, Pat Burrell hit his first homer at Citizens Bank Park since he left the Phillies in the offseason and Carlos Pena also went deep for Tampa Bay.

Philadelphia hosts the Atlanta Braves on Sunday night in the 2009 major league opener.

Red Sox 9, Mets 3

At New York, Oliver Perez made his first appearance at the Mets’ new home and failed to make it out of the first inning, walking four and giving up a grand slam to Jed Lowrie.

Tigers 8, Braves 4

At Atlanta, Carlos Guillen hit a two-run homer and Rick Porcello threw two scoreless innings for Detroit.

Kenshin Kawakami walked seven batters and gave up four runs in 2 2-3 innings for Atlanta. He issued bases-loaded walks in the second and third.

Twins 7, Pirates 6

At Fort Myers, Fla., Justin Morneau wrapped up a big spring, doubling and driving in three runs. The former AL MVP hit .394 with three home runs in 14 exhibition games for the Twins.

Indians 4, Astros 3

At Houston, Carl Pavano tossed five solid innings for Cleveland, surrendering one run and four hits. The right-hander struck out four and walked none.

Royals 5, Rangers 4

At Arlington, Texas, Kris Benson pitched five effective innings for Texas in the final exhibition game for both teams. He allowed three runs, one earned and eight hits.

Mike Jacobs and John Buck each hit solo homers for Kansas City.

Marlins 1, Blue Jays 1

At Jupiter, Fla., Anibal Sanchez threw three scoreless innings for Florida. The right-hander allowed two hits, struck out one and walked one.

Athletics 3, Giants 2

At Oakland, Calif., Brett Anderson allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings, and Eric Chavez and Jack Cust hit back-to-back homers for the A’s.

Rockies 6, Mariners 5

At Las Vegas, Seth Smith hit a bases-loaded RBI single off the left-field wall in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Colorado the win.

Kenji Johjima and Yuniesky Betancourt homered for the Mariners. Ken Griffey Jr. went 1-for-2 with an RBI, ending spring training on a nine-game hitting streak.

Reds 9, Futures 6

At Dayton, Ohio, Edwin Encarnacion and Jerry Hairston Jr. each hit a two-run homer for Cincinnati. Johnny Cueto allowed one run and four hits in four innings.

Cardinals 7, Redbirds 3

At Memphis, Tenn., Rick Ankiel and Khalil Greene each hit a two-run homer to lift St. Louis to the win. Joel Pineiro allowed three runs, two earned, and three hits in seven innings.

Angels 5, Padres 4

At Anaheim, Calif., Bobby Wilson hit an RBI single moments after Reggie Willits scored from second base on a groundout to the pitcher in the bottom of the ninth. The Angels’ two-run rally came a half-inning after the Padres scored twice against new closer Brian Fuentes.

The Angels ended the spring 26-8, leading the majors in wins _ and the only team with less than 10 losses. Meanwhile, the Padres (10-21) finished with the fewest wins.

Brewers 7, Dodgers 4

At Los Angeles, Brad Nelson capped a four-run ninth inning with a three-run homer and Milwaukee overcame an early four-run deficit. Carlos Villanueva, projected to be the Brewers’ emergency closer because of Trevor Hoffman’s strained right oblique muscle, got the victory with a scoreless eighth.

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