Bedard beats Lopez for spot in rotation

Baltimore Orioles : Rodrigo Lopez will begin the season in the Orioles' bullpen after being replaced in the starting rotation by rookie Erik Bedard, who earned the final spot with an outstanding spring. Bedard is 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA in five exhibition games. Although the left-hander had ligament replacement surgery in September 2002 and pitched in only six minor league games last year, rookie manager Lee Mazzilli felt compelled to make him the fifth starter. Bedard, 25, will be optioned to the minors before the season and called up to make his first appearance on April 10 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Bedard will follow Sidney Ponson, Eric DuBose, Kurt Ainsworth and Matt Riley. Ponson is the only starter in the rotation with at least one full year of major league experience. The other four pitchers have combined for 10 big league wins. Lopez won 15 games in 2002 and was runner-up in AL Rookie of the Year balloting, but last year he slumped to 7-10 with a 5.82 ERA. He's 2-2 with a 3.79 ERA in five exhibition games. Bedard probably cemented his spot in the rotation during his last start, when he struck out nine over six shutout innings against the World Series champion Florida Marlins last Saturday. Ponson impressive: Sidney Ponson pitched five effective innings in his final tuneup before his first opening day start, and the Baltimore Orioles roughed up Chris Carpenter in a 10-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday. Ponson allowed one run, seven hits and a walk. The right-hander will next face the Boston Red Sox at home Sunday night. Ponson went 2-1 with a 4.85 in six starts this spring. San Francisco Giants : Barry Bonds looks ready for the season to begin. Bonds hit a long homer over the batting cage in right field during the Giants' 10-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. The star slugger homered for the sixth time this spring and heads into the season two shy of tying his godfather, Willie Mays, for third on the career homers list with 660. Willie Harris and Magglio Ordonez each had three hits for the White Sox. Chicago scored 14 runs Monday in a win over Kansas City and followed that with another impressive effort on offense. Texas Rangers : Right fielder Brian Jordan's sore left knee may force him to start the season on the Texas Rangers' disabled list, manager Buck Showalter says. At this point, Jordan most likely would be held out of the remaining spring "A" games to preserve the option of backdating him if he goes on the DL. That would allow the 36-year-old free agent to be eligible to come back for the April 11 game at home against the Anaheim Angels. Jordan could play in minor league games, but Showalter wasn't hopeful. Jordan has missed seven spring games since he caught a spike in the batter's box during his first at-bat against the A's on March 24. Jordan, who had season-ending surgery on the same knee in 2003, has had just 19 at-bats in eight games this spring. Colorado Rockies : After hitting bottom last season, Shawn Estes is back on top, earning the Opening Day start for the Colorado Rockies. It has been a strange ride for a player who once was one of baseball's most promising left-handers. Estes went from a 19-game winner in 1997 and a 15-game winner in 2000 to being unwanted in 2003. Estes believes only the loyalty of Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker, for whom he had pitched in San Francisco, kept him from being released last season. He went 8-11 with a 5.73 ERA with the Cubs. The previous year he was a combined 5-12 with a 5.10 ERA for the New York Mets and Cincinnati. Attracting little interest in the offseason, he signed a minor-league contract with the Rockies in January. Coors Field wouldn't be the choice of many pitchers as a place to revive a career, but Estes was interested in Colorado because of his familiarity with the National League West and the fact that the Rockies rotation was unsettled. A nonroster invitee to spring training, Estes wasted no time making an impact. Through the first three weeks of the exhibition season, he compiled the lowest ERA in the Cactus League at 0.60. In his last outing, he pitched five shutout innings before yielding a grand slam to Oakland's Jermaine Dye, and his ERA rose to a still-impressive 1.74. Cleveland Indians : Jason Stanford was named Cleveland's No. 5 starter Tuesday, beating out Chad Durbin for the final spot and rounding out a rotation that will include three left-handers. Stanford, 27, began the spring in a fight with four other pitchers for two open spots at the back end of Cleveland's starting staff behind C.C. Sabathia, Jason Davis and Cliff Lee. After veteran Jeff D'Amico was given the No. 4 job, Jake Westbrook got sent to the bullpen and Jason Bere was told he would begin the season at Triple-A Buffalo. Then it came down to either Durbin or Stanford for the fifth spot. Indians manager Eric Wedge called Stanford into his office Tuesday morning to tell him he had won, ending 48 anxiety-filled hours for an undrafted free agent who was working in a Buffalo, N.Y., deli making sandwiches not long ago. Stanford pitched well in his final audition for the job, allowing one run and four hits in five innings Monday night against the Houston Astros. Durbin, who started Tuesday's game against the New York Mets, will begin the season as a long reliever. Florida Marlins : The Marlins signed Tanyon Sturtze to a minor league contract Tuesday, hoping the big right-hander might help their bullpen. Sturtze asked for and received his release from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday after giving up 18 hits and posting a 9.00 ERA in 11 innings this spring. The 6-foot-5 Sturtze started last season in Toronto's rotation but was moved to the bullpen after eight starts. He finished 7-6 with a 5.94 ERA. Sturtze, 33, spent three years with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, starting 65 games and becoming their No. 1 starter in 2002. That season, he went 4-18 with a 5.18 ERA and became the first pitcher to lead the AL in losses, hits allowed (271), runs (141) and walks (89). He went 15 starts before his first win, allowed a team-record 33 home runs and gave up more than 10 hits six times. Although Sturtze probably will start the season at Triple-A Albuquerque, the Marlins expect he might be able to help soon. Relievers Blaine Neal and Nate Bump have had uneven springs and will need to improve to secure spots in the bullpen. Cincinnati Reds : Cincinnati Reds third baseman Brandon Larson, who has been limited to just five at-bats in spring training, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a sprained right big toe. The move is retroactive to last Friday and Larson will not be eligible to return until April 10. Larson, who is expected to be Cincinnati's regular third baseman, appeared in 32 games last season and hit .101 in 89 at-bats. Toronto Blue Jays : The Blue Jays traded outfielder Jayson Werth to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday for reliever Jason Frasor. Werth hit .234 with two homers and 16 RBI with Toronto last season. Werth was hitting .207 with four homers and four RBI this spring. Frasor, a right-hander who split time with Class-A Vero Beach and Double-A Jacksonville last season, went a combined 2-0 with 23 saves and a 2.51 ERA in 50 games. Seattle Mariners : The Mariners released outfielder Eric Owens on Tuesday, trimming the number of players in major league camp to 35. Owens was invited to spring training on a minor-league roster. He played 111 games last season with Anaheim, hitting .270 with one home run and 20 RBI. Since 1995, he also played with Cincinnati, Milwaukee, San Diego and Florida. Minnesota Twins : The Twins decided on a fourth outfielder for their opening-day roster, optioning Lew Ford to Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday. That means Michael Ryan will serve as the primary backup behind center fielder Torii Hunter, left fielder Shannon Stewart and right fielder Jacque Jones. Michael Cuddyer also will see playing time in the outfield. The Twins also reassigned catcher Chris Heintz and infielder Alex Prieto to minor league camp before leaving to play the Cincinnati Reds in Sarasota. With their 14 position players now set, the Twins must choose between six pitchers left competing for two roster spots -- one in the bullpen and one as a spot starter until Rick Helling returns from a broken leg. Brad Radke, Johan Santana, Kyle Lohse and Carlos Silva are entrenched in the rotation, and Joe Nathan, J.C. Romero, Juan Rincon, Aaron Fultz and Grant Balfour will be in the bullpen. Left-hander Brad Thomas is the leading candidate to be the No. 5 starter, leaving right-hander Seth Greisinger, right-hander Joe Roa, right-hander Pete Munro, left-hander Carlos Pulido and right-hander Sean Douglass. Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.

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