BRADENTON — Blue Jays RHP Jesse Litsch, the former Dixie Hollins standout and Rays batboy, is sidelined for at least six weeks because of a treatment that backfired.
Litsch was shut down early in camp with shoulder inflammation and had the diagnosis confirmed Feb. 27 by noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews. Litsch, who turns 27 Friday, received a platelet-rich plasma injection to help accelerate healing.
But a serious infection developed at the injection site, and Litsch had emergency arthroscopic surgery and a 21/2-day hospital stay.
"He had a reaction to the injection that actually caused an infection, and as that began to grow, there was an additional procedure needed to clean out the infection," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "It was an emergency procedure because the infection was growing, so that had to be flushed out."
Litsch previously had elbow and hip surgeries.
ROTATION BATTLE: LHP Aaron Laffey had a 1-2-3 first but gave up a run on three singles in the second in an 8-5 win over the Pirates. "I felt free and easy, nice and loose," said Laffey, who is competing for a rotation spot. "For the most part, I kept the ball down and was able to change speeds. I was pleased with it."
Phils: Howard in boot
TAMPA — Phillies 1B Ryan Howard is wearing a walking boot on his left foot as he recovers from an infection that required surgery near his Achilles' tendon, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Howard could be in the boot for up to 10 days, Amaro said. He began wearing it shortly after the Feb. 27 procedure, the newspaper reported.
The Phillies have told Howard to rest. "We immobilized him," Amaro said, "just because our main priority is to just get the infection out of there."
Amaro told the Inquirer that Howard is taking a strong dose of antibiotics. He won't necessarily begin his rehab immediately after the boot comes off.
ACE GETS STARTED: Phillies RHP Roy Halladay allowed one run and two hits and struck out three in two innings in a 7-4 loss to the Yankees. The two-time Cy Young Award winner struck out two to work out of a two-on, no-out jam in the second inning.
"I was really happy with location. I was happy with the way I felt," Halladay said. "But just getting the regular arm slot I think is what I'm really trying to lock in right now. About 80 percent of the time it was good. So, I've got a little ways to go."
Yanks: A-Rod thunder
TAMPA — Alex Rodriguez got his spring training season off to a perfect start.
The Yankees 3B homered on the first pitch he saw — from Halladay — and added an RBI double and single.
"I'm just lucky that it was the first inning, that he's not quite warmed up yet," Rodriguez said. "He's probably going to be mad next time I face him. He's the greatest pitcher in our game."
Rodriguez, whose power numbers dropped during an injury-filled 2011, hit an opposite-field solo homer to right in the first.
"It's better than striking out," Rodriguez said. "It's good to feel good and get off to a good start."