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Doctors give Gooden a clean bill of health

Test results were normal on RHP Dwight Gooden, whose blood pressure was slightly elevated. Doctors attributed the problem to stress. No medication or diet changes will be prescribed.

"I'm okay," Gooden said Friday. "It's great to hear there is no need (for medication). They told me just to keep an eye on it."

One contributing factor to the stress likely was the death of Gooden's father during the off-season.

Gooden's family has a history of high blood pressure, and Gooden's was elevated when he had a physical at the beginning of spring training. Gooden wore a heart-monitor device for a 24-hour period that ended Thursday.

As expected, manager Joe Torre named RHP David Cone as the Opening Day starter, the second straight year Cone has received the honor.

"David's the veteran of the staff, he should get this privilege," Torre said. "Plus, he's our leader. Guys just look forward to seeing him, they rally around him."

Cone started the 1996 season with New York and went 4-1 before having surgery to remove an aneurysm in his right shoulder. He missed four months and finished 7-2 with a 2.88 ERA.

Torre said LHP Andy Pettitte will follow Cone in the rotation. Gooden and LHP David Wells are battling for the third spot. The Yankees don't need a fifth starter until April 8, so LHP Kenny Rogers is staying behind in Tampa to keep building arm strength after off-season shoulder and elbow surgery. Rogers also is awaiting the birth of his second child, due in early April.

Rogers gave up a home run to Travis Fryman and scattered five hits over six innings in his longest stint of the spring in a 4-3 win over Detroit.

Torre will make a decision on who will start at third base (Wade Boggs or Charlie Hayes) and leftfield (Darryl Strawberry or Tim Raines) today or Sunday.

The Yankees will retire Don Mattingly's No.

23 during Don Mattingly Day on Aug. 31, before the game against Montreal.

Cone (1-1, 4.26) faces Toronto's Pat Hentgen (1-1, 4.50) today in a 1:05 p.m. start.


Boone sticks to basics

PLANT CITY _ Bret Boone is looking to return to form at the plate after watching his average dip to a career-low .233 last year, when he started the season on the disabled list. Boone hit .320 in 108 games in 1994.

Admittedly, Boone struggled last year.

"I pressed myself to try and catch up after missing some time," Boone said. "It was tough, but I learned a lot last year. It was just one of those years where nothing seemed to work out. But I expect to be more consistent this year. I won't worry about the numbers, I'll let them take care of themselves."

Before Friday's game against the Marlins, Boone was hitting .313 and had a slugging percentage of .625, despite being juggled around the lineup because of the absence of Barry Larkin. Boone batted sixth early in the spring and also hit third. He batted fifth in the 6-5 loss to the Marlins and went 2-for-4 with two doubles after missing the past week with a sprained left thumb.

"I feel okay, not overly great, but to be honest, in spring training it is really irrelevant what you hit," Boone said. "I never really feel that great in spring, but I am seeing the ball good and I feel fine physically."

Ruben Sierra hit his fourth and fifth home runs.

"(Sierra) has been hitting the ball well right-handed," manager Ray Knight said. "I wanted to send a message to him that he is swinging the bat well enough to hit (fourth)."

Larkin might be ready for Opening Day. His left heel was much improved, two days after a cortisone shot in a swollen bursa sac.

"The Achilles is not as sore as (Thursday)," Larkin said. "Before, when I would wake up it was tight and sore. I didn't have that."

John Smiley faces Houston's Shane Reynolds today in Kissimmee.


Green thrown for a loss

CLEARWATER _ Opposing pitchers Tyler Green of the Phils and rookie Matt Morris of the Cards have eyes on the starting rotations, but went in opposite directions as St. Louis crushed Philadelphia 10-0. The Phils, who had a six-game winning streak snapped, were shut out for the first time.

Green allowed nine runs on 11 hits, including three home runs, a run-scoring triple and a double in 3 innings. The Cards batted around in the third, scoring seven runs on seven consecutive hits. RHP Bobby Munoz stopped the rally, retiring 12 straight batters.

Morris shut out the Phils on four hits through 5 innings, walking one and striking out five.

Green is one of several candidates for the starting rotation. In two previous starts, he surrendered only two runs on four hits. He spent last season on the disabled list because of shoulder surgery.

LHP Michael Mimbs (1-0, 3.00) goes against the Indians and RHP Charles Nagy in a 1:05 game at Jack Russell Stadium today. RHP Curt Schilling (0-0, 2.65) will go for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a minor-league game against Cleveland at Carpenter Complex.


Morris zeros in on rotation

DUNEDIN _ RHP Matt Morris didn't look like a rookie, shutting out the Phillies on four hits through nearly six innings in a 10-0 win.

Morris was the Cards' first-round draft pick in 1995 and led their minor leagues last season with 175 innings pitched, going 12-12 at Double-A Arkansas. Morris, named by manager Tony La Russa as his likely fifth starter, struck out five and walked one.

RHP John Frascatore, RHP T.J. Mathews and LHP Lance Painter completed the shutout.

The Cards not only batted around in the third inning, but hit for the cycle _ two home runs, a triple, a double and four singles off Green. OF Mark Sweeney hit a two-run homer, OF Ron Gant a three-run homer and INF Gary Gaetti a run-scoring triple as the Cards scored seven runs. The homers were the first for Sweeney and Gant. OF Willie McGee's two-run homer in the fourth chased Green.

RHP Todd Stottlemyre (0-1, 6.60) starts for the Cards against the Red Sox at 1:05 today at Al Lang Stadium.

Hall of Fame Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck and St. Louis-based author Rob Rains will sign copies of their new book Jack Buck: That's a Winner this afternoon at the St. Petersburg Bayfront Hilton across from Al Lang Stadium after the game until 6. The book, which costs $25, has just been released. It will be Buck's only Tampa Bay area appearance.

The Cards optioned RHP Brady Raggio, RHP Manuel Aybar and C Mike Difelice to Louisville. OF Micah Franklin, OF Cory Snyder and INF Steve Scarsone were reassigned to Louisville.


Clemens strikes again

PORT CHARLOTTE _ Roger Clemens pitched into the sixth inning and Jacob Brumfield broke an 0-for-34 slide in a 10-4 win over the Rangers.

Clemens worked 5 innings. He allowed a run on three hits, struck out five and walked one. Clemens was in control throughout, with 57 strikes in 91 pitches.

Texas led 1-0 behind starter Bobby Witt in the sixth when Toronto went ahead with two outs. Orlando Merced singled before Joe Carter hit his third homer.

Brumfield led off the seventh with a home run off reliever Xavier Hernandez. Brumfield was 3-for-5 with two RBI after entering the game batting .030.