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Ex-Orioles star dies of cancer

Great outdoors: The grounds crew prepares Target Field for Friday’s exhibition, the first outdoor game in Minnesota since 1981. The Twins lost 8-4 to the Cardinals, and Tampa Catholic graduate Denard Span hit the stadium’s first homer.

Associated Press

Great outdoors: The grounds crew prepares Target Field for Friday’s exhibition, the first outdoor game in Minnesota since 1981. The Twins lost 8-4 to the Cardinals, and Tampa Catholic graduate Denard Span hit the stadium’s first homer.

Mike Cuellar, one of the Orioles' star pitchers during the 1970s, died Friday of stomach cancer in Orlando. He was 72.

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The Cuban-born lefty was a 32-year-old junkballer believed to be past his prime when obtained from Houston for outfielder Curt Blefary in 1968. Instead, he was part of a storied rotation that carried the Orioles to one World Series title and three American League pennants.

Four times, Mr. Cuellar won 20 or more games. (In 1971, he, Pat Dobson, Jim Palmer and Dave McNally each won 20.) His first year in Baltimore, he went 23-11 with five shutouts and became the first Oriole (and Latin American) to win the Cy Young, sharing it with Detroit's Denny McLain.

In Mr. Cuellar's first three seasons in Baltimore, it won 318 games, reaching the Series each time. In 1969, the Orioles lost to the Mets in five games, Mr. Cuellar recording the only victory. He pitched a complete game in the clincher of the 1970 Series against the Reds. And he lost Game 7 of the 1971 Series to the Pirates despite allowing two runs over eight innings.

Mr. Cuellar's best year was 1970, when he went 24-8 with 21 complete games. Starting in 1959 with the Reds and ending in 1977 with the Angels, he went 185-130 with a 3.14 ERA.

"Mike was, arguably, the best left-hander in the game from 1969 to 1974," Palmer said. "But he never got his due."

A-Rod talks to MLB about troubled doctor

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said he met with three Major League Baseball officials Thursday about Anthony Galea, a doctor under investigation by U.S. and Canadian authorities on suspicion of distributing human growth hormone.

The Associated Press reported Rodriguez told the officials he didn't receive performance-enhancing drugs. Galea said last week that he prescribed only anti-inflammatories to Rodriguez while treating him after his March 2009 hip surgery.

"It went well. I cooperated," Rodriguez said Friday. "They were very happy."

Braves: Centerfielder Nate McLouth was scratched with a strained right hamstring. His status for the opener was not disclosed.

Marlins: Second baseman Dan Uggla was hit on the left hand by a pitch against Florida's Triple-A team and left. And reliever Brian Sanches hurt his right knee while warming up. Their status has not been determined.

Rangers: Righty Scott Feldman agreed to a three-year deal worth $13.925 million. Last year, his first full one, Feldman, 27, went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA.

Reds: Righty Mike Leake, June's eighth overall pick who has not pitched in the minors, was named the fifth starter. He beat out Travis Wood, a second-round pick in 2005, and Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, who was eliminated because of soreness in his lower back.

Royals: Third basemen Alex Gordon and Josh Fields likely will open the season on the disabled list. Gordon, the second overall pick in 2005, broke his right thumb March 6 on a headfirst slide into second. Fields has not played since March 27 because of a hip injury.

Twins: Righty Jon Rauch was named closer. He had 17 saves for the Nationals in 2008, his only experience as a closer, and replaces four-time All-Star Joe Nathan, who is out for the season after Tommy John surgery.

Umpires: Ed Montague, Randy Marsh, Rick Reed and Charlie Reliford, who combined for 110 years of experience, retired. Marsh and Reliford became umpire supervisors.

Ex-Orioles star dies of cancer 04/02/10 [Last modified: Saturday, April 3, 2010 5:29pm]

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