- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From combined dispatches

Alex Rodriguez has a new problem.

Hours after Rodriguez played Tuesday for the Dominican Republic in a tuneup for the World Baseball Classic, the New York Yankees announced he would get his ailing hip checked by a specialist.

An exam Saturday revealed a cyst in Rodriguez’s right hip. The 33-year-old slugger is scheduled to visit Dr. Marc Phillipon on Wednesday in Vail, Colo.

“Alex has proven his durability throughout his career, and we will take every precaution and step necessary to ensure his health as we near the start of the 2009 regular season and beyond,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement.

Rodriguez’s status for the WBC was uncertain. The Dominicans’ first game is Saturday against the Netherlands in Puerto Rico.

Rodriguez went 1-for-3 with a double and scored in the Dominicans’ 10-1 win over the Florida Marlins in Jupiter, Fla. He left after 4 1/2 innings and did not disclose his ailment during postgame interviews.

Rodriguez felt tightness and stiffness in his right hip this spring and was examined by team physician Chris Ahmad on Saturday, the Yankees said. An MRI exam showed the cyst.

ORIOLES: George Sherrill had his finest season in the major leagues last year, yet the Baltimore closer was disappointed in his performance despite 31 saves.

“The save numbers were good, but the other numbers weren’t that great,” he said. “I’m really not used to having numbers like that, so that was kind of disappointing.”

Besides a career high in saves, Sherrill issued too many walks and subsequently faced 57 more batters than in any other season. Getting the final three outs was too often an adventure for the left-hander, and the increased workload attributed heavily to the month he missed with an inflamed shoulder.

So as he prepares to improve upon a season in which he pitched in the All-Star Game, Sherrill has two goals:

“Stay healthy and lower the walks,” he said. “I think part of staying healthy is limiting pitches, trying to allow as few people on base as possible. I was able to scramble out of a bunch of jams last year, but it cost me.”

RED SOX: Pitcher Brad Penny was scratched from his first scheduled spring training start because of shoulder weakness, and right fielder J.D. Drew returned from Boston after receiving an injection in his lower back.

Penny was to have started Thursday against Puerto Rico. He stopped a bullpen session Sunday after 25 pitches.

BONDS: Barry Bonds is open to making a comeback. Whether any team wants him, that’s the tricky part.

Now that Bonds’ federal trial has been delayed at least until July, the agent for baseball’s home run king plans to contact all 30 major league clubs again to determine whether there’s a place for the slugger.

“I’m still not optimistic,” agent Jeff Borris said.

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