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Baseball notebook

Kazmir aims for opener

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Associated Press / February 28, 2008

AL strikeout leader Scott Kazmir will be sidelined at least two weeks of spring training because of an elbow strain, although the Tampa Bay lefthander remains confident he'll be ready for Opening Day.

The Rays said yesterday that an MRI did not reveal a serious injury, but stressed the club will not take any unnecessary chances with the 24-year-old's recovery, even if it means him missing a start or two when the season begins.

Kazmir, 13-9 with a 3.48 ERA and 239 strikeouts last season, was scratched Tuesday from a scheduled one-inning appearance in an intrasquad game after feeling discomfort in his left elbow on his final warmup pitch.

Cardinals release Spiezio

Utilityman Scott Spiezio was cut by the St. Louis Cardinals after being charged in a six-count complaint involving drunken driving and assault in a December car crash.

A warrant was issued Tuesday for Spiezio, who missed more than a month last year while getting treatment for substance abuse. The warrant was recalled yesterday after Spiezio's attorney appeared in court, and the arraignment was continued to March 26.

The Orange County (Calif.) district attorney charged Spiezio with misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence, driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more, hit and run, aggravated assault, assault and battery.

Heartening news

Cubs second baseman Mark DeRosa will undergo a heart procedure in Chicago today to correct an irregular heartbeat. Team doctor Stephen Adams said DeRosa is expected to return to Arizona Sunday and be ready to play in spring training games by March 8. Alan Kadish, a cardiovascular electro physiologist at Northwestern Hospital, will perform the hour-long procedure that Adams described as "simple but very high tech." . . . The Rockies decided not to sign infielder Neifi Perez . . . Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley (groin) and Indians pitcher Jake Westbrook (sore arm) were scratched from scheduled starts today . . . Sixteen months since undergoing Tommy John surgery, Francisco Liriano was back in camp with the Minnesota Twins . . . Former Cincinnati Reds scout and farm director Sheldon "Chief" Bender died at 88 in Ohio from complications of a recent fall.

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