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Published: Friday, 2/29/2008

Fehr says he would consider HGH test

ASSOCIATED PRESS

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Players' union leader Donald Fehr said he would consider approving blood testing for the human growth hormone if there was a valid, efficient procedure for determining its use over an extended period.

Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, urine tests for performance-enhancing substances are administered, although HGH cannot be detected in current urine tests. The World Anti-Doping Agency says a blood test for HGH will be used at the Olympics, but no validated blood test for HGH currently is commercially available.

"If and when a blood test is available and it can be signed and validated by people other than those that are trying to sell it to you, then we'd have to take a hard look at it," Fehr said yesterday.

BOXED IN/COACHES: Base coaches in the big leagues will have to stay inside their boxes this season.

Major League Baseball announced a few rule amendments, including one that came a season after Double-A coach Mike Coolbaugh was killed by a line drive to the neck.

First and third-base coaches must not cross the lines toward home plate or the field until batted balls pass them.

CUBS/DeROSA: Second baseman Mark DeRosa underwent what the club deemed a successful procedure in Chicago to correct an irregular heartbeat.

He was expected back at spring training in Mesa by Sunday and scheduled to resume baseball activity early next week, the team said.

Indians 12, Astros 2

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Cleveland returned to the field for the first time since losing Game 7 of the AL championship series in Boston and opened their final Grapefruit League season with a 12-2 thumping of Houston.

After taking a commanding 3-1 lead over the favored Red Sox, Cleveland lost three straight games - by a combined 30-5 - and lost th series in stunning fashion.

Trevor Crowe drove in three runs, Andy Gonzalez and Wyatt Toregas had two RBIs apiece and Danny Sandoval homered for the Indians, who busted open a scoreless game with three runs in the fifth and four in the sixth.

Jake Westbrook, penciled in as Cleveland's No. 3 starter, was scratched from starting the opener because of arm soreness. Jeff Harris, who spent last season at Triple-A Buffalo, started in his place and pitched one scoreless inning.

NOTES: The teams play again today in Kissimmee with Cleveland's Paul Byrd starting against Roy Oswalt. ... The Astros kept several starters back in Kissimmee, including SS Miguel Tejada, 2B Kaz Matsui, LF Carlos Lee and 1B Lance Berkman.

Tigers 4, Blue Jays 1

LAKELAND. Fla. - Detroit pitcher Virgil Vasquez pitched two hitless innings as a starter, facing only seven batters in a win over Toronto.

Vasquez pitched in five games and started three for the Tigers last season, struggling to an 0-1 record and an 8.64 earned run average in five games, three of which were starts.

Still, he is considered one of the top arms in the Tigers organization and was happy to get the start.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said that when Vasquez keeps the ball down in the strike zone, he is an effective pitcher, but he's had a hard time with that. He didn't allow a hit against Toronto, but there were some hard-hit balls and some great defensive plays.

"He always does what we need when he gets the ball down," Leyland said of Vasquez. "When he gets the ball up, he gets hit hard."

With Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman and Robertson already forming the Tigers starting rotation, Vasquez said he keeps and eye on trade talks, knowing that he is a valuable prospect.

Curtis Granderson homered off Blue Jays starter Jesse Litsch in the second inning to pace the Tigers. He and Magglio Ordonez each had two RBI. The Blue Jays managed only four hits, three of them off Macay McBride, a candidate for a middle relief spot for the Tigers.

NOTES: Jim Leyland said the fifth and seventh spots in the batting order are as important as any because of the RBI production. He named new third baseman Miguel Cabrera the No. 5 hitter in the Tigers opening day lineup. Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Gary Sheffield, Magglio Ordonez will fill out the top four spots barring injuries ... Nonroster pitcher Matt Mantei, who hasn't pitched in a major league game since 2005, pitched an inning and struck out one. He walked two batters but pitched his way out of a jam. ... Nate Robertson's wife, Kristin, gave birth to a 6-pound, 14-ounce boy at

1:23 a.m. yesterday. They named him Wyatt Dale ... Brandon Inge pinch-hit for Ordonez in the eighth inning. He received a huge round of applause from the crowd and delivered a sharp single down the third-base line.



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