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MLB BOOTLEG: Yanks eye Blue Jays' Stewart

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Yanks may have taste for Stew
(Newsday) The Yankees, having lost Ruben Rivera possibly to QVC and having realized that Rondell White gets hurt more often than an Anna Kournikova boyfriend, may turn to Canada for help. Newsday reports that the Yanks have interest in trading for Blue Jays outfielder Shannon Stewart. Yankee officials now apparently believe that they'll need more than just your garden-variety backup in left field. And Stewart may be their guy. "He's a very good player," Yankees lord George Steinbrenner said of Stewart. "But I'd imagine they'd want an arm and a leg for him." Actually, that's two arms and two legs, and they all belong to Nick Johnson. Johnson, a talented hitting prospect who in 1999 posted a .525 on-base percentage as a 20-year-old in AA, is slated to be the Yanks' DH this season. As such, they may not be willing to part with him. Instead, Yanks GM Brian Cashman may instead try to tempt the Jays with a package centered around lefty prospects Brandon Claussen and Alex Graman. New York previously had Stew on the radar at last year's trading deadline, but nothing came of it. They like his base-stealing abilities and above-average on-base skills, but they don't care for his weak throwing arm and are at least pretending to be concerned about his $4.5 million salary. But White's injury woes may force their hand. White, who's battled a rib cage injury this spring, cut short a Sunday workout after tweaking a muscle. He hopes to take some light swings today, but manager Joe Torre tells the NY Times that if White isn't able to do something by the end of the week, he'll probably start the season on the DL. White has played 150 games in a season just once in his nine-year career.

Distillery
The Yanks have cut utility dude Jim Leyritz, The NY Post reports ... According to the Dallas Mornin' News, Hideki Irabu, Dave Burba, Steve Woodard and Colby Lewis are all in the running for the Rangers' fifth starter's job ... More from the DMN: Rangers reliever Jeff Zimmerman, who's trying to stave off elbow tightness, will play long toss again today. If that flies, he could also throw from the front of the mound. That would put him back throwing off the mound on Wednesday, which would leave him ten days to get ready for opening day. Any wrinkle along the way means Zim will probably open the season on the DL. Either shortstop Juan Uribe or second baseman Jose Ortiz will probably bat in the number-two hole for the Rox this season, the Rocky Mtn. News reports ... Phillies reliever Turk Wendell, who's about as popular in Philly as a rolling blackout, tells the Philadelphia Inquirer that his balky elbow may put him on the DL to start the season ... The Phinq also reports that Vicente Padilla will likely be the Phils' fifth starter ... The Lorain Mornin' Journal reports that Tribe catcher Eddie Taubensee may retire because of his bad back. Cleveland may have interest in KayCee's A.J. Hinch is Taub does hang it up ... The LMJ also reports that Ryan Drese will probably win the job as the Tribe's fifth starter ... Reds GM/tired act Jim Bowden tells the Cincy Enquirer that he favors Danny Graves as closer. Bowden maintains, however, that the decision is manager Bob Boone's to make. So instead of ordering Boone to tab Graves as closer, Bowden will float it in the media in the hopes that Boone takes the hint. Clever ... According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Tribe is backing off plans to sign suckfest Ruben Rivera. However, the Rangers, still giving the finger to the gods of chemistry, may have interest. The SF Chronic reports that Giants right-hander Jason Schmidt's crappy groin will keep him out until at least mid April ... A's outfielder Jermaine Dye is at least a week away from game action, the SJ Merc News reports. Dye is still recovering from the shin fracture he suffered in last year's ALDS ... What's a rah-rah team guy like Jeff Kent doing embroiled in controversy? The guy who fell all over himself to show the world he's a better teammate than Barry Bonds may have lied about how he broke his wrist. Baseball Weekly recently reported that Kent suffered the injury not while washing his truck, as he claimed, but while riding his motorcycle. Why lie about that, since the latter makes a cooler story? Well, it also may constitute a violation of his contract. Here's Kent's "denial" in the SJ Merc News: "If people want to make a good story, then I guess I do a lot of dangerous things. I climb tree stands. I ride motorcycles. I wash trucks. However you want to write it. I guess a motorcycle adds a little more intrigue." Kent, also whining elsewhere, said: "When you make fun of someone washing his truck, that's sad." But not as said as lying about washing your truck ... Quote of the day from the spectacularly bad Derek Bell, who's miffed that he has to compete for a starting job: "I ain't going out there to hurt myself in spring training battling for a job. If it is [a competition], then I'm going into 'Operation Shutdown.' Tell them (GM Dave Littlefield and manager Lloyd McLendon) exactly what I said. I haven't competed for a job since 1991." 'Da Post reports that Yanks lefty Andy Pettitte was upbeat after his first exhibition start since March 3. Pettitte, who's had some elbow stiffness, felt good during a minor-league start on Sunday. If he's pain-free today, he'll make another start on Wednesday. Pettitte could begin the season in the five hole in order to give him more time to get ready ... The Orioles are still bitching and moaning to the Wa Post about a team coming to D.C. ... Brad Thomas, Kyle Lohse and Matt Kinney are all competing for the Twins' fifth starter's job, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports ... According to the Philly Daily News, the Phillies could get right-hander Miguel Ascencio back from the Royals. KayCee selected Ascencio in December's Rule 5 draft but may not be able to keep him on the 25-man roster as required. The Boston Herald reports that John Valentin has a strong shot to make the Mets' roster as a utility infielder ... Mets lefty Al Leiter tells the NY Daily News that he'll be ready to start opening day. Leiter started Sunday after being sidelined the last ten days with a hip injury ... Dodgers ace Kevin Brown probably won't be ready for opening day ... Jays second-base prospect Orlando Hudson on GM J.P. Ricciardi: "He's a smooth looking cat. He looks like he was a pimp back in the day" ... Tigers hurler Adam Pettyjohn underwent successful colon surgery on Sunday, the Freep reports. He'll require two follow-up surgeries, so it'll be some time before he's ready to play again ... The SJ Merc News reports that A's second baseman Esteban German is 24 years old rather than his stated age of 23 ... Twins third baseman Corey Koskie should see action in Wednesday's game, the Minny Star-Trib reports.

Tagged: Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Yankees, Rangers, Blue Jays, Reds, Dodgers, Mets, Phillies, Giants, Andy Pettitte

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