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Pirates

Notebook: Lincoln to start season on DL

Joe Rutter
| Monday, March 24, 2003

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Because of an errant golf ball, Mike Lincoln won't be on the Pirates' Opening Day roster.

General manager Dave Littlefield confirmed Sunday that Lincoln, who hasn't pitched in a game this spring because of a fluke injury, will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list.

The news came as no surprise to Lincoln, who was hurt the day before camp opened when he slipped on an errant golf ball while jogging on the Pirate City warning track. The complex sits next to River Run Golf Course.

"You can't be put on the team if you're not throwing," Lincoln said. "It's just bad luck."

Lincoln had his throwing program shut down last week because of inflammation in the joint of his right rotator cuff. He also has a contusion on his humerus bone. He is receiving daily treatment for the injury and doesn't know when he'll resume throwing.

"You feel for the kid," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "But he'll be back."

Lincoln, who will break camp with the team and fly to Pittsburgh to continue his rehabilitation, still can't believe his misfortune. After going 2-4 with a 3.11 ERA last season, he was almost certain to make the team out of spring training for the second year in a row.

Then, that golf ball sailed out of bounds and changed the complexion of Lincoln's spring.

"It's just a wacky, screwy, little freak accident," McClendon said. "I don't know what else to call it. A white golf ball blending in with the white rock track, and he doesn't see it."

As he slipped on the ball, Lincoln braced for the fall with his right arm. He jarred his shoulder and cut his palm.

"I could jog every day for the rest of my life and never have that happen again," Lincoln said.

With Lincoln officially out of the running, six pitchers will compete for three vacancies in the bullpen. Lincoln usually was the first reliever out of the pen and worked the sixth and seventh innings. He held left-handed hitters to a lower batting average (.279) than right-handed hitters (.295).

"Somebody is going to have to step up and get the job done from the right side," McClendon said. "But we feel good about where we are. We have protection. We have depth."

The remaining right-handed relievers in camp are Julian Tavarez, Matt Herges, Brian Meadows, Salomon Torres and Pat Mahomes.

RAIN, RAIN DIDN'T GO AWAY

The game against the Toronto Blue Jays was canceled because of rain. It was the first rainout for the Pirates this spring.

"Actually, we've been pretty lucky," McClendon said. "The weather has been great this spring."

Scheduled starter Kip Wells will pitch today in a minor-league game at Pirate City. Josh Fogg will make the start in the regular game when the Pirates travel to Dunedin to play the Blue Jays.

The rainout was one of the few glitches the Pirates have had this spring. With one week remaining until Opening Day, McClendon is pleased with the Pirates' intensity, commitment and level of play.

"Without a doubt, this has been our most productive camp," McClendon said. "But that shouldn't be a surprise. I have more veteran players in camp, and they know how to get ready for the season."

TURNING JAPANESE

The Pirates are in negotiations to sell the contract of non-roster third baseman Jose Fernandez to a team from Japan. Littlefield expects the cash transaction to be completed within a few days.

Fernandez, 28, spent last season in Korea and hit 45 homers while driving in 107 runs for the SK Wyverns. He was 4 for 18 with two homers and three RBI this spring.

With Fernandez out of the mix and two pitchers (Dave Williams and Lincoln) heading to the disabled list, the Pirates have 32 players in camp. Additional roster moves are expected to happen today.

INJURY UPDATE

Left-hander Dave Williams (left shoulder surgery) threw off the mound yesterday for the second time under his new program. He threw 25 pitches and impressed pitching coach Spin Williams with his arm action.

First baseman Randall Simon (sore left hamstring) is expected to return to the lineup today after missing three games.

"We're just being cautious," McClendon said. "He could have played two days ago."

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