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Fielder benched on late arrival

DH Cecil Fielder strolled into the clubhouse 2{ hours late Sunday morning and declared that, despite rescinding his trade demand, there will be no more talks with the Yankees about a contract extension until after the season.

"I don't want any distractions. There was an abundance of time for us to work something out. It didn't get done," Fielder said. "I felt maybe over the course of time that we've been talking about a contract extension, something positive might have happened, but nothing positive came out of the whole ordeal."

Fielder's agent, Bob Gilhooley, pulled the trade demand off the table one minute before Saturday's midnight deadline, although Fielder said he didn't know it then. Fielder unplugged his telephone Saturday night after Gilhooley told him Yankees owner George Steinbrenner agreed to give Fielder 48 hours to test the free-agent market. It wasn't until 9 a.m. Sunday that Fielder found out that agreement had fallen through.

Fielder, who was out of town, arrived at Legends Field about noon, 30 minutes after he was scratched from the lineup against Philadelphia.

"I figured I was on a 48-hour hiatus to see what was going on. That's why I came in late," Fielder said. "My agent wasn't satisfied with George's word. He wanted to get it on paper, and that didn't happen before midnight."

"We put our offer on the table and they turned it down," New York GM Bob Watson said. "Some of it was written, some of it was verbal, but what Mr. Steinbrenner said to Mr. Gilhooley was in good faith."

As New York's everyday DH, Fielder, 33, will make $7.2-million, the most the Yankees have paid a player for one season. Sunday he seemed ready to focus on playing baseball.

"I'm under contract with the Yankees. I've got to go out and give them the best I've got," he said. "I've got to play baseball like I know I can this year. Then I'll take my chances."

SS Derek Jeter was hit above the left elbow by a pitch from RHP Tyler Green in the fifth inning and left the game with a bruise. 1B Tino Martinez left after being hit by a pitch behind the right knee in New York's 3-3, 11-inning tie with Philadelphia. He also sustained a bruise; neither player needed X-rays.

_ JULIE GOODRICH

4 innings encourage Green

TAMPA _ RHP Tyler Green and his surgically repaired shoulder looked sharp for four innings against the Yankees, and despite giving up two runs in the fifth Green said he was encouraged.

"Every outing (the shoulder) seems to be getting better and better," said Green, who gave up four singles, including Bernie Williams' two-run liner up the middle. He struck out one, walked two and hit a batter.

Green, 27, did not pitch last season after arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. He went 2 innings against Baltimore last week in his first exhibition action, walking three and hitting a batter.

"My most consistent pitch seems to be my changeup. It's breaking the way I want it to," Green said. "After a year off the only thing that hasn't seemed to suffer is my changeup, probably because it's the one pitch I don't try to throw hard."

Green said he felt comfortable on the mound against the Yankees but wasn't trying to do anything fancy. "All I'm thinking is there's a hitter in there and I need to get him out. I haven't done that in a long time."

C Adan Millan was optioned to the minors, leaving 42 players in camp.

RHP Curt Schilling faces White Sox RHP Jaime Navarro at 7:35 tonight in Sarasota.

_ JULIE GOODRICH

Suspension irks La Russa

ST. PETERSBURG _ Cardinals RHP T.J. Mathews wasn't talking about his six-game suspension for hitting Cincinnati's Bret Boone last week. Mathews was suspended, beginning April 1, after National League president Leonard Coleman ruled Mathews intentionally threw at Boone.

But St. Louis manager Tony La

Russa was talking.

"I definitely think it's real excessive," La Russa said. "I don't think that President Coleman looked at everything that was involved and not involved.

"Hopefully, when this is explained there will be some kind of modification. If not, it sets a precedent. I mean, when you hit somebody in the butt you're out six days?"

Mathews' suspension is one game longer than that of Baltimore's Roberto Alomar, who was suspended for spitting on umpire John Hirschbeck last season.

Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty said the team likely will pay Mathews during the suspension, due to begin the day of the regular-season opener at Montreal. "The punishment already is severe enough," Jocketty said.

OF Andy Van Slyke likely will be out until Thursday with a strained hamstring. Van Slyke was injured Tuesday when caught in a rundown. He is batting .550 (11-for-20) as a nonroster invitee.

C Tom Pagnozzi is expected to return to the lineup today. He was hit in the left wrist against the Reds last week.

RHP Todd Stottlemyre faces Pittsburgh's Jon Lieber today in Bradenton. The Cardinals play a B game against the Yankees 10 a.m. Tuesday at Legends Field.

_ RODNEY PAGE, TIMES WIRES

Clemens strides forward

ST. PETERSBURG _ Blue Jays RHP Roger Clemens turned in his most impressive outing. He went 5 innings, gave up two hits, walked two and struck out six in a 4-2 loss to the Cardinals.

"I enjoyed the fact that I stretched it out today," Clemens said. "My legs were strong underneath me. There's still improvements to make. I've got two more starts, so it's just a continual progression until the start of the season."

It was the longest outing for Clemens, who threw 84 pitches.

LHP Huck Flener is expected to see his first action of the spring Tuesday. Flener had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Feb. 26.

RHP Marvin Freeman is listed as day-to-day after leaving Saturday's game with a right hamstring injury. RHP Tim Crabtree also is day-to-day after leaving the game with a virus.

Today is manager Cito Gaston's 53rd birthday.

RHP Pat Hentgen starts today against Cleveland RHP Charles Nagy in Dunedin.

_ RODNEY PAGE

Reds get reliever Eischen

VIERA _ The Reds acquired reliever Joey Eischen from the Padres for a player to be named.

Eischen, 26, is coming off a disappointing season and elbow surgery. The left-hander went 1-2 with a 4.21 ERA in 52 appearances for Los Angeles and Detroit last season.

San Diego got him in December as part of a four-player deal that sent C Brian Johnson to the Tigers.

He had arthroscopic surgery to clean out the elbow in the off-season and has not thrown as hard as usual this spring. Reds GM Jim Bowden said Eischen's fastball has been clocked at 87-89 mph; he threw harder than 90 mph last year.

Eischen was to have an MRI today to make sure the elbow is sound. He is expected to join the Reds Tuesday.

Bowden said the trade will be completed in a few days. The player who will go to the Padres is not on the major-league roster.

_ TIMES WIRES

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