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Stottlemyre to start Opening Day

The only thing curious about Tony La Russa's choice of Opening Day starter was the timing.

A day after giving up eight runs in three innings to the Pirates, Todd Stottlemyre was the manager's choice to start April 1 at Montreal. It's the second Opening Day assignment for Stottlemyre, 0-1 this spring with a 6.60 ERA in four starts.

Stottlemyre, 31, got the nod because 18-game winner Andy Benes is sidelined with a rib-cage injury. Stottlemyre was second on the team in victories, going 14-11 with a 3.87 ERA, and started the home opener last season.

It's still spring training, but Dennis Eckersley is in midseason form. Eckersley showed some of his trademark intensity in the Cardinals' 3-1 loss to Texas.

After walking 2B Mark McLemore and OF Rusty Greer in the fifth inning, the right-handed reliever had a few words for umpire Eric Gregg.

"I get a little caught up in it sometimes," Eckersley said. "It seems like it doesn't matter if it's a spring training game or not."

OF Micah Franklin hit his first home run in the third.

The Cardinals lost to the Yankees 7-1 in a seven-inning B game Tuesday morning. St. Louis had only three hits off Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte. OF Andy Van Slyke returned to action after missing a week with a strained hamstring. Van Slyke got a hit in the B game, and also got a hit in St. Petersburg. Van Slyke is 13-for-24 this spring.

SS Royce Clayton missed his second game because of the flu. Clayton should return Thursday.

The Cardinals are off today. LHP Donovan Osborne will face Yankees LHP David Wells on Thursday at Al Lang Stadium. Only bleacher seats remain. Tickets will go on sale at 11 a.m. Thursday at the stadium ticket office.

_ RODNEY PAGE, WIRES

Decisions near for third base, leftfield

DUNEDIN _ Manager Joe Torre dropped hints that Wade Boggs had won the third base job over Charlie Hayes and Darryl Strawberry would start in leftfield ahead of Tim Raines.

"I have an idea what I want to do," said Torre, giving an answer that could have applied to third base or leftfield. "I have to inform the people who are involved before I start making any statements."

"There's no question in my mind," said Strawberry, who hit a three-run homer as the Yankees beat the Blue Jays 3-1. "If I get close to 500 at-bats, I'm going to hit 35 or 40 homers."

Hayes went 3-for-3 with a double.

In a morning B game against St. Louis, LHP Andy Pettitte threw six innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.

The Yankees have a day off today; they return to action Thursday in St. Petersburg against the Cards.

Cecil Fielder's wife plans to sue Melbourne police for $25-million, claiming illegal arrest, unlawful detainment and battery, her attorney said. Stacey Fielder claims she was unlawfully arrested when she stopped to inquire about her 10-year-old child, who was involved in a Feb.

8 automobile accident in a car driven by her cousin. Police say she ignored orders to stay away from the accident scene.

_ JULIE GOODRICH, WIRES

Morandini continues hot streak

CLEARWATER _ 2B Mickey Morandini, with singles in the first and fourth innings off the Royals' Kevin Appier, stretched his hitting streak to nine games. He is batting .500 (16-for-32) in that span. The Phils, who won 6-5, are unbeaten in nine spring games at Jack Russell Stadium.

OF Brent Bowers' sacrifice fly won it for the Phils in the bottom of the ninth after OF Yamil Benitez's single off RHP Ricky Bottalico in the top of the inning tied it. OF Ricky Otero walked, OF Gregg Jefferies doubled him to third and Otero barely beat LF Bip Roberts' throw home on Bowers' fly. C Mike Lieberthal had two doubles and drove in four Phillies runs.

1B Rex Hudler "gave" Appier a single, backing off his easily fielded second-inning grounder to cover first with Morandini shaded too far to second to make the play. It was, Appier said, his first hit since he was in college in 1986.

"He liked it," Hudler said. "Told me, "Way to go, Hud. I needed that to take back to my boys.' "

The Phillies reduced their spring training roster to 38 (including rehabilitating OF Len Dykstra) by optioning LHP Matt Beech and RHP Calvin Maduro and INF Dave Doster to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and reassigning INF/OF Mike Robertson to their minor-league complex.

_ BRUCE LOWITT

No personal catchers on this team

DUNEDIN _ There have been rumblings among a few Blue Jays pitchers about Charlie O'Brien becoming a personal catcher whenever certain starters take the mound. It's an idea that manager Cito Gaston is happy to squash.

"I think it's bad business to get that started. If Charlie gets hurt, who are they going to throw to?" Gaston said. "Charlie's on a one-year contract and all these pitchers are signed for 3-4 years. So that doesn't mean Charlie's going to be here next year. He might want to go somewhere else, and we might not even want to have him back."

O'Brien, who had off-season surgery on his left knee, got his first start Tuesday against the Yankees and struck out in his only at-bat. Benito Santiago, the Jays' everyday catcher, relieved O'Brien in the sixth and went 0-for-1 with a walk as Toronto lost 3-1. DH Carlos Delgado's leadoff home run in the eighth accounted for the Jays' run.

LHP Huck Flener, who had arthroscopic knee surgery Feb.

26, threw one inning of relief in his first appearance, giving up two singles. Although Flener looked impressive in working out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth, Gaston doesn't expect him to be ready by the time the team heads north.

Toronto is off today, then hits the road to face Minnesota on Thursday in Fort Myers. RHP Juan Guzman (1-1, 3.60) faces RHP Bob Tewksbury.

_ JULIE GOODRICH

Pendleton placed on disabled list

PLANT CITY _ The Reds placed 3B Terry Pendleton on the 15-day disabled list, six days after he had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

The 36-year-old Pendleton had surgery March 12 to repair a slight cartilage tear in the right knee, suffered before Cincinnati's exhibition-season opener Feb.

28. He's expected to be out 2-5 more weeks.

The Reds also sent OF Chad Mottola to Triple-A Indianapolis.

SS Barry Larkin will fly to Birmingham, Ala., today to have his tender Achilles' tendon examined.

LHP Pete Schourek had his best outing, going five innings for the first time as the Reds beat the Indians 9-5. Schourek, who is coming off elbow surgery, gave up two runs in the first inning, then shut the Indians out on two hits over the next four.

_ TIMES WIRES

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