- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dustin Pedroia, Vladimir Guerrero and Vernon Wells were back in action Friday after long absences, giving each of their teams a boost with the regular season just around the corner.

Pedroia had a hit and an RBI in his first game since straining an abdominal muscle 10 days ago while playing for the United States, leading the Boston Red Sox to an 11-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pedroia was quickly tested, handling a grounder by Pirates leadoff batter Nyjer Morgan. In the bottom of the first, he drove in a run with a grounder.

The AL MVP then led off the third and was credited with a hit when third baseman Andy LaRoche’s throw to first sailed into the photographer’s well. Pedroia advanced to second and was replaced by pinch-runner Ivan Ochoa.

“(I) felt good,” Pedroia said in Fort Myers, Fla. “I think the biggest thing is seeing how it feels (Saturday). Hopefully, I’m not sore or anything like that. Definitely want to take it slow. I’ve been doing all my treatments and stuff. It was good to get back on the field and get a couple of at-bats and get back in the game rhythm.”

Red Sox manager Terry Francona skipped the game to attend his son Nick’s graduation from Marine Corps Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Va. Bench coach Brad Mills ran the club.

At Tempe, Ariz., Guerrero made his first start of spring training and impressed his manager in the Los Angeles Angels’ 6-1 victory over the Arizona Diamonbacks.

Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes made his first appearance, too.

Guerrero, who had offseason knee surgery, played right field and was hitless in two at-bats. Manager Mike Scioscia said he hoped to have Guerrero in the lineup for a few more swings as the designated hitter Saturday against Milwaukee.

“He got out there and he’s moving well,” Scioscia said. “He ran well out of the box. He’ll probably have a little stiffness tomorrow, but we’ll see if he can in there and get lose and get some cuts tomorrow as a DH.”

Byrnes’ season was cut short in late June by a torn left hamstring. On Friday, He started in center field and went 0-for-3.

“He was a little more under control than I expected him to be,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “He had two pretty good swings, actually three decent swings. He ran around in the outfield. He had a few balls he had to chase after. The balls he hit, he was running around the bases pretty well. For a first day, I thought he looked good.”

At Dunedin, Fla., Wells went 0-for-2 in his first spring game and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 15-4.

Wells, who strained his left hamstring Feb. 23, grounded into a double play and flied out while serving as the Blue Jays’ designated hitter. The two-time All-Star is expected to be in center field on Saturday against Houston.

In other news:

_Ivan Rodriguez’s $1.5 million, one-year contract with the Houston Astros was finalized after the catcher passed his physical. The 13-time Gold Glove winner hit .276 with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 115 games last season with Detroit and the Yankees, who acquired him in July.

Rodriguez expects to make his spring debut for the Astros on Sunday, and should be in good shape after playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

_Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland is ready for the WBC to be over _ he needs his starters back.

The Tigers have been playing without Armando Galarraga, Carlos Guillen, Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez, who are playing for Venezuela in the WBC. Curtis Granderson is with the United States team. Both teams advanced to the semifinals.

“It’s a no-win situation,” Leyland said. “Some guys just want their players back and that’s how I feel also. I want our guys to spend some time together before opening day.”

Phillies 2, Cardinals 2, 10 innings

At Jupiter, Fla., Chase Utley played into the sixth inning on his surgically repaired hip and had two hits and scored a run. He had three at-bats for the first time in four games this spring.

Rick Ankiel hit a two-run homer off Phillies starter Carlos Carrasco in the third inning.

Brewers 6, Mariners 5

At Peoria, Ariz., Ken Griffey Jr. homered for the first time since rejoining Seattle.

J.J. Hardy homered, doubled twice and scored three runs for Milwaukee.

Astros 4, Reds 2

At Kissimmee, Fla., Russ Ortiz, vying for the fifth spot in Houston’s rotation, pitched six scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, struck out two and walked none after struggling in his previous start.

Johnny Cueto worked five innings in his second spring start for Cincinnati. Cueto, who played for Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, yielded two runs and six hits.

Yankees 4, Twins 2

At Fort Myers, Fla., Mark Teixeira hit his first spring training home run for New York.

Twins starter Glen Perkins allowed four hits in five scoreless innings, struck out one and walked one.

Rangers 11, Rockies 5

At Tucson, Ariz., Frank Catalanotto hit a three-run homer and Nelson Cruz added a two-run shot.

The Rangers traveled to Tucson without outfielder Andruw Jones, but he’s expected to remain with the team at least through the weekend.

The sides elected to extend a deadline in Jones’ minor league contract that would allow him to become a free agent if the Rangers don’t place him on the big league roster. The deadline is now Monday.

Giants 10, White Sox 3

At Phoenix, Giants left-hander Barry Zito allowed six hits and three runs _ one earned _ in six innings, lowering his ERA to 5.49 from 7.29.

Marlins 8, Braves 6, 10 innings

At Kissimmee, Fla., Atlanta’s Derek Lowe worked five innings and allowed four runs and seven hits. he struck out two and walked none.

Andrew Miller allowed two runs and six hits in five innings for Florida. He struck out two and walked one.

Tigers 5, Nationals 2

At Lakeland, Fla., Nate Robertson, vying for the final starting job in the Detroit rotation, allowed two hits and struck out five in five innings, his longest outing of the spring.

Mets 4, Orioles 0

At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Oliver Perez pitched three scoreless innings. The left-hander walked two and allowed one hit in his first start since putting up a 9.45 ERA in the World Baseball Classic.

Right-hander Danys Baez, bidding for one of three open spots in the Orioles’ rotation, allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings.

Cubs 5, Padres 3

At Mesa, Ariz., Cubs pinch-hitter Reed Johnson hit a two-run homer off Kevin Correia.

Indians 7, Athletics 6

At Goodyear, Ariz., Carl Pavano had a rough outing for the Indians, surrendering six runs and seven hits in four innings. He struck out two and walked three.

Justin Duchscherer threw 25 pitches in the bullpen at the team’s complex in Phoenix. It was his first time throwing off a mound in three weeks. He had been battling a sore elbow.

Royals 9, Dodgers 4

At Surprise, Ariz., Claudio Vargas, vying for the final slot in the Dodgers’ rotation, pitched three effective innings.

However, Kansas City took advantage of two Los Angeles errors to score seven unearned runs. The Royals sent 10 men to the plate in a six-run fifth off Eric Milton (0-2), who committed a throwing error in the inning.

Mike Jacobs, who is hitting .318 with 14 RBIs in 16 games, and Alex Gordon both had two-run doubles in the inning, and rookie outfielder Chris Lubanski added a two-run homer in the sixth.

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