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Knoblauch makes 6th error; Yanks left scratching heads

Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch picked up his sixth error of the spring, his fifth on a throw. The errant throw came in the ninth inning on the back side of a double play that one-hopped off first baseman Tino Martinez's glove into the stands, allowing a run to score in the 2-0 loss to the Dodgers.

Knoblauch declined comment after the game Saturday.

"I'm not trying to make anything of it at this point," manager Joe Torre said. "I've made up my mind that I'm going to go a little bit without trying to make a decision."

Knoblauch had one strong throw to first and needed assistance from Martinez, who quickly shifted toward the rightfield side of the base, on another.

EL DUQUE UPDATE: Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez will throw off a mound today and could start Tuesday. He has been sidelined since March 9 by right forearm stiffness. Fifth starter candidate Randy Keisler, who has an 11.17 ERA in four games, was sent to Triple-A Columbus. Former Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford threw the ceremonial first pitch to fellow Hall of Fame member Yogi Berra.

EL SID UPDATE: In Dunedin, left-hander Sid Fernandez made his first start this spring, and his first start since retiring in 1997, against Toronto. Fernandez pitched four innings, allowed five hits and one run in the 4-2 loss to the Blue Jays. He threw 43 pitches.

"I felt good. My legs weren't tired, my arm felt strong. It was a good day," Fernandez, 38, said. "I thought the fastball was working. I threw a lot of breaking pitches, but that's what spring training is for."

Fernandez pitched out of jams in the second and third. All five Blue Jays hits against him were singles.

Fernandez said he doesn't know when he will pitch again, or if it will be as a starter or reliever. He pitched in three spring games, all relief appearances, before the start and allowed five earned runs in five innings.

He last pitched in a regular-season game in 1997 with the Astros. Fernandez is 114-96 in his 14-year career. He was signed to a minor-league contract on Feb. 20.

If Fernandez makes the final roster, he said it probably won't be as a starter.

"I'll probably make it as a reliever, honestly," Fernandez said. "But whatever they want me to do. This is the best organization I could've made a comeback with."

SORIANO STILL SIZZLES: Outfielder Alfonso Soriano continued his hot hitting with a leadoff home run and a double against Toronto starter Esteban Loaiza. Soriano is hitting .411 with four doubles and two homers.

UP NEXT: The Yankees play split-squad games today. In Tampa, right-hander Christian Parker faces Dodgers right-hander Terry Adams. In Fort Myers, left-hander Andy Pettitte faces Boston right-hander Tim Wakefield.

_ MARK DIDTLER, RODNEY PAGE

Loaiza has up-and-down start against Yankees

DUNEDIN _ The Yankees were hit or miss against Blue Jays right-hander Esteban Loaiza. Loaiza, making his third spring start, pitched five innings and allowed two runs. He struck out four and walked one, but of the six hits he allowed, four were for bases.

Loaiza allowed two home runs, one to leadoff batter Alfonso Soriano, the first he has allowed this spring. Loaiza is a candidate to be the opening-day starter.

HUBBARD RELEASED: Outfielder Trenidad Hubbard was given his unconditional release. Hubbard appeared in 10 games this spring and hit .364 with eight RBI. He hit a combined .185 with Atlanta and Baltimore last season. He was a nonroster player this spring.

ETC: Catcher Darrin Fletcher will take at least two days off with lower back stiffness. Infielder Chris Woodward saw his first spring action after rib cage discomfort. He played shortstop in the eighth and ninth innings but did not bat. Right-hander Steve Parris and left-hander Chris Michalak will pitch simulated games Monday at Englebert Complex, a scheduled off day for the Blue Jays. Singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot sang both national anthems before the game.

UP NEXT: Right-hander Roy Halladay makes his second spring start today at Lakeland against Tigers right-hander Dave Mlicki.

_ RODNEY PAGE

Phils fall to Indians

CLEARWATER _ The Indians beat the Phillies 7-1 thanks to five strong innings from right-hander Charles Nagy, who allowed one run on five hits. Nagy, coming off a 10-month layoff from elbow surgery, said he had more innings in him.

"I felt fine," Nagy said. "If they had wanted me to go back out there, I would have gone back out there."

Philadelphia's Robert Person, on the other hand, was scheduled to start at Jack Russell Stadium but was held out because of a tender right shoulder. It is the same shoulder that has bothered him since '97 and put him on the disabled list for a month last season.

Manager Larry Bowa said Person tentatively is scheduled to pitch Monday at home against Cincinnati. Bowa has named Person the club's No. 2 starter in the rotation, and he is scheduled to pitch in the second regular-season game on April 3 at Florida.

THE SUBSTITUTE: The Phillies' emergency starter, Nelson Figueroa, gave up seven hits and six earned runs, and was chased by Russell Branyan's three-run homer.

SOLD: Thanks to Cleveland fans, a spring training best 7,049 sold out Jack Russell Stadium.

TODAY: Right-hander Amaury Telemaco starts the 1:05 game against Houston at Kissimmee. Omar Daal, Ricky Bottalico and Chris Turner will be at Dunedin's Englebert Complex for the 1:05 matchup of Scranton versus Syracuse.

_ JAMAL THALJI

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