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Yanks ponder Knoblauch in outfield

Manager Joe Torre doesn't want to do it, but hasn't ruled out shifting Chuck Knoblauch from second base to leftfield.

Knoblauch has six errors, five on throws, this spring.

"If something has to be done, we'll figure it out," Torre said after the Yankees dropped a 4-3 split-squad game to Los Angeles on Sunday. "If he can have a couple comfortable days at second base, there's no need for the move. Right now, I don't have anything in mind. Tomorrow, he'll be at second base."

Knoblauch said he would make the move, if asked. He played outfield during his freshman year at Texas A&M.

Knoblauch made two good throws to first base in his only opportunities Sunday.

INJURY REPORT: News is mixed.

Shortstop Derek Jeter (right quadriceps) is scheduled to resume batting practice today and should return by the end of the week.

"You can feel it getting better because when I first did it, walking, I could feel it basically every step," Jeter said. "Now it's sore, but much better."

Pitcher Orlando Hernandez (right forearm/elbow) had a setback Sunday, shutting down his bullpen session after five minutes.

"It didn't feel good," Torre said. "They're putting him on some medication. We should have an idea in a few days on how it's going to respond to it."

Pitcher Mike Mussina (bruise inside the left knee) is scheduled to throw off a mound today.

ETC.: Fifth starter candidate Christian Parker faces Jeff Weaver when the Yankees host the Tigers at 7:15 tonight. Erick Almonte hit two homers, but the Yankees' split squad lost 8-7 to Boston in Fort Myers.

_ MARK DIDTLER

Reserve a spot for Wells

LAKELAND _ Top prospect Vernon Wells, who spent most of last season at Triple A, appears to be on the verge of making the Blue Jays as a reserve outfielder.

"Vernon is real close," manager Buck Martinez told the Toronto Star recently. "He's starting to swing the bat and has a great read on the ball."

Wells, 22, is batting .412 (7-for-17) and slugging .706.

_ TIMES WIRES

Mesa leads closer battle

KISSIMMEE _ The spring opened with right-handers Jose Mesa and Ricky Bottalico competing for the Phillies' closer job. Mesa is the overwhelming leader.

Mesa has a 1.29 ERA this spring and has allowed five hits in seven innings. Bottalico has two blown saves and a 10.80 ERA in five innings.

The Phillies signed both as free agents during the off-season.

_ TIMES WIRES

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