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Gagne throws live, happy with result

Dodgers closer Eric Gagne pitched to hitters for the first time since elbow surgery in June.

"I expected to feel good but I didn't expect to have so much zip on my fastball and movement on my changeup," Gagne said. "I was surprised. It's reassuring."

The 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner was limited to 14 games last season due to arm and knee injuries. On June 24, he had surgery to repair an elbow ligament.

Gagne was determined not to rush his recovery in spring training but hoped to be ready for opening day.

"I was pleased, especially with the hitters in there," Gagne said. "I was under control, staying inside myself and throwing about 80 percent. The ball was going where I wanted it to, which is a big thing."

Pat Borders, who caught Gagne's 20-pitch, four-batter session, said the right-hander mixed fastballs, changeups and sliders.

In other news, manager Grady Little said Derek Lowe will start the April 3 season opener against Atlanta at Dodger Stadium.

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS FOR SORIANO: The Nationals unveiled their new offensive weapon, Alfonso Soriano, but remained sketchy about where the four-time all-star second baseman would play.

Soriano will work out as a second baseman for the next week or so, alongside incumbent Jose Vidro, as Soriano prepares for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

"Is he going to play leftfield? Who knows?" manager Frank Robinson said. "No decision is going to be made - as to whether he is going to play leftfield or second base - today, tomorrow or the next day, or when he comes back (from the World Baseball Classic). Those decisions will be made before we leave Florida."

WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: Vidro will not play for Puerto Rico, saying he wants to concentrate on the Nationals' season. Roberto Kelly quit as manager of Panama's team, complaining he didn't get enough support from local baseball officials. Rangers closer Francisco Cordero has a sore shoulder that will keep him from competing Boston's Manny Ramirez and the Mets' Pedro Martinez might not play for the Dominican Republic. Ramirez may not be in shape, while Martinez might be hampered by a toe injury.

ATHLETICS: Frank Thomas arrived at spring training but won't be able to take part in workouts until the team's doctors check out an MRI exam of his surgically repaired left ankle. GIANTS: Barry Bonds hit five home runs in against first-base coach Luis Pujols. Bonds also nearly hit pitcher Matt Morris' head on a comeback line drive.

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