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Gagne is tentative in 1st outing

Gagne is tentative in 1st outing

Associated Press

Eric Gagne spent his first outing of spring training trying to find his footing. John Smoltz used his latest start to prove he is on solid ground as Atlanta's ace.

Barry Bonds and Mariano Rivera will take steps today toward returning from injuries.

Gagne worked on adjusting his pitching motion during his one inning of work Monday, and Derek Lowe gave up two runs against his former team in the Dodgers' 7-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Vero Beach, Fla.

The Dodgers' closer hadn't pitched since he sprained a ligament in his knee on Feb. 24 during fielding drills. On Monday, the right-hander took a quick hop after every pitch to prevent too much strain on the knee when his front leg landed.

"I tried to protect it and not put too much weight on it," Gagne said. "It feels pretty good right now. I knew it wouldn't feel good (during the game)."

Gagne limped back to the mound after every pitch in the sixth inning. He faced four batters, walking one, striking out one and getting two groundouts.

"I don't think he was in top condition. He wasn't throwing correctly," pitching coach Jim Colborn said. "I expected that because in his last bullpen he wasn't throwing cleanly. He was falling off the side of the mound."

At Kissimmee, Fla., Smoltz pitched four-hit ball over five innings to lead the Braves past the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0. Atlanta's closer the last three seasons has allowed only nine hits in 14 scoreless innings as a starter this spring.

"I would hope the start of innings pitched eases people," Smoltz said. "As optimistic as I am, there have been a lot of new people coming in here asking the same question."

Smoltz won the NL Cy Young Award as a starter in 1996, but has not started more than five games in a season since '99.

Bonds is expected to arrive back at the San Francisco Giants' camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., to begin a rehabilitation program after undergoing a second operation on his right knee last week.

At Tampa, Fla., Rivera is scheduled to pitch today for the first time since being sidelined last week with mild bursitis in his right elbow. The Yankees' closer hasn't pitched since March 14, when he experienced discomfort in the elbow and had an MRI. He reported no problems Monday, one day after a bullpen session.

"It feels real good," Rivera said. "I was expecting to feel better, but not this good."

Shortstop Derek Jeter underwent treatment for his bruised left foot, and there is a chance he could return today.

At Sarasota, Fla., Ken Griffey Jr. went 0-for-2 but showed his recovery from a torn hamstring is going well, easily chasing down fly balls in center for six innings in Cincinnati's 5-3 win over Tampa Bay. Scott Kazmir allowed five hits and struck out five in 42/3 scoreless innings for the Devil Rays.

Copyright © 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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