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Outfielder hits but is likely to sit out opener

Yankees outfielder Rondell White took batting practice Friday but is expected to miss opening day.

"I really don't think he'll be ready," manager Joe Torre said after New York lost 7-5 to Toronto.

White has been sidelined by a left rib cage strain since Feb. 25. He was pain-free after taking five rounds of batting practice.

"I'm surprised how good it felt," White said. "I'm very happy with how the day went."

White will take batting practice again today. Barring any setback, White should make an appearance in a minor-league game by Monday.

Meanwhile, centerfielder Bernie Williams is set to play Sunday. He has been out twice this spring with a left hamstring injury. He returned Tuesday after sitting out four days.

In addition, Andy Pettitte threw 12 minutes in the bullpen. Slowed by a strained left elbow, he threw his cut fastball for the first time since early this month.

"I'm right there just like I'd never been hurt," he said. "I'm back to my normal routine."

Pettitte will pitch again Monday.

BAD DAY: Mike Thurman allowed six runs and 10 hits in 4 innings. He and Adrian Hernandez are among the candidates for a bullpen spot should Ramiro Mendoza not be ready for opening day.

"(Thurman) throws a lot of strikes," Torre said. "If he doesn't locate, the other team lets him know it. I like his experience."

Mendoza, who threw for 10 minutes off a bullpen mound Friday, has pitched once this spring because of a stiff neck. The right-hander, who might throw in a minor-league game Tuesday, likely will remain in Florida for about a week when camp breaks.

_ TIMES WIRES

Good start might not help

CLEARWATER _ Starter Brett Myers had a solid outing in a 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Red Sox, but the 6-foot-4 right-hander still might be destined for the minors.

"He has big-league stuff," manager Larry Bowa said.

Nonetheless, Myers appears headed for Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Entering camp, Robert Person, Randy Wolf, Terry Adams and Brandon Duckworth seemed to have the top four spots in the rotation locked up. That left David Coggin, Nelson Figeuroa, Cliff Politte and Myers, at 21 the youngest of that bunch, battling for the fifth spot.

"It's a good problem to have," Bowa said. "If we don't see (Myers) this year, two things would have to happen.

"All five starters would have to pitch lights out, and he would have to have a terrible year (in Triple A)."

Myers, who has never pitched above Double A, allowed five hits and an unearned run with five strikeouts and three walks in six innings, his longest outing this spring. He lowered his spring ERA to 3.18.

ACE TUNES UP: Person, recovering from a muscle pull on his right side, threw against Roger Clemens at the Yankees' minor-league complex. In six innings, Person threw 84 pitches. He allowed one hit and no runs while striking out six and walking one.

POTENT BATS: Shortstop Jimmy Rollins and Reggie Taylor, an outfielder fighting for a roster spot, accounted for six of the Phillies' eight hits.

Rollins, who has a hit in six consecutive games, doubled, homered (his second) and singled.

Taylor singled three times and had two stolen bases.

INJURY REPORT: Travis Lee (back spasms) and Marlon Anderson (twisted ankle) will miss today's game for precautionary measures.

_ STEVE LEE

Carpernter gets nod

DUNEDIN _ Manager Buck Martinez announced Chris Carpenter will start opening day against Boston on April 1.

He will be followed by Luke Prokopec. Roy Halladay will pitch the home opener April 4 against Minnesota, and Brandon Lyon will be the fourth starter. Scott Eyre is the fifth starter.

NEW ROLE: Closer Kelvim Escobar pitched the first inning against the Yankees, allowing two runs and three hits.

"It gives the closer a chance to face players who aren't Triple A," Martinez said.

COMMON THREAD: The crowd of 5,509 gave the Blue Jays their second sellout of the spring, both against the Yankees.

INJURY REPORT: Outfielder Jose Cruz hasn't hit since March 14 because of a rib muscle injury.

"He ran good (Thursday)," Martinez said.

"We're just being conservative with him. He's not ready to hit yet, but he's throwing at 100 percent."

First baseman Carlos Delgado (neck stiffness) returned to the starting lineup and went 1-for-2 with two walks.

_ TIMES WIRES

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