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Litsch dazzles in rotation bid

DUNEDIN — RHP Jesse Litsch made about as strong a case as he could for a spot in the Blue Jays rotation.

The former Dixie Hollins standout struck out seven in 51/3 scoreless innings in Toronto's 3-0 win over the Twins on Sunday.

"Everything was sharp today, everything felt good, my arm felt great, body felt great," Litsch said. "It's a game. You're going to have bad ones, you're going to have good ones. It's a matter of just staying focused and doing your job when you're out there."

In his last start, Litsch gave up nine hits and four runs in 3½ innings vs. the Phillies. Manager John Farrell was impressed with his bounce-back effort.

"Hopefully (Litsch) he has one or two more just like this," Farrell said. "It makes our decision extremely difficult. That means everyone's throwing the ball like they can."

Phils: Lidge upbeat

CLEARWATER — Phillies closer Brad Lidge threw about 35 pitches in a bullpen session and said he expects to pitch in a game Tuesday.

"I was very encouraged by this one," Lidge, who hadn't pitched since March 11 because of right biceps tendinitis, told MLB.com.

Lidge, whose velocity had been down, said he held back a bit in Friday's bullpen session but let loose a little more Sunday.

"It still felt really good," Lidge told the website. "This is the step we needed to get me back into games. Now, hopefully, I'll get four or five outings in."

POLANCO HEALING: 3B Placido Polanco, out since Tuesday with a hyperextended left elbow, said he hopes to play in a game this week.

Yanks: Who's first?

CLEARWATER — The Yankees keep tinkering with their leadoff hitter.

Brett Gardner hit first, with Derek Jeter No. 2, for the second time this spring in Sunday's 8-1 win over the Phillies. Gardner went 2-for-4 and Jeter 1-for-4.

Jeter was the leadoff hitter 137 times last season.

"The fans are into everything," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You're talking about Derek Jeter. Anytime his name is mentioned it's going to be a big story."

In his first full season, Gardner batted .277 with a .383 on-base percentage and had 47 steals in 56 chances. In a down year, Jeter batted .270 with a .340 OBP and had 18 steals in 23 chances.

REGGIE RETURNS: Reggie Jackson, who had back surgery in January, finally felt good enough to join the Yankees for his annual stint as a spring training instructor.

.If you go

Blue Jays

Where: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin

Tickets: (727) 733-0429 or bluejays.mlb.com

Phillies

Where: Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater

Tickets: (727) 467-4457 or phillies.mlb.com

Yankees

Where: Steinbrenner Field, corner of Dale Mabry and Martin Luther King, Tampa

Tickets: (813) 879-2244 or yankees.mlb.com

Litsch dazzles in rotation bid 03/20/11 [Last modified: Sunday, March 20, 2011 9:04pm]

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