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First Pitch Is in Puerto Rico

April 01, 2001|From Associated Press

Carlos Delgado is having so much fun preparing for the major league opener in his homeland that he can't stop smiling.

Fellow Puerto Rican Ivan Rodriguez has been so busy that his eyes are red and his voice is hoarse.

Almost overshadowed by it all is Alex Rodriguez, the most talked-about player of the off-season. And the $252-million shortstop is appreciating his relative anonymity while it lasts.

"I know Pudge hasn't slept too much, I know he's tired," Alex Rodriguez said Saturday as his Texas Rangers prepared to play Delgado's Toronto Blue Jays today in San Juan (1 p.m., ESPN). "I'm kind of glad they're getting all the promotion down here. I'm really enjoying that part of it."

This is the third consecutive year major league baseball has taken its first game away from traditional sites. The San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies opened the 1999 season in Monterrey, Mexico, and the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets played two games in Tokyo last season.

Vera Clemente, widow of Roberto, and Orlando Cepeda, another Hall of Famer from the island, will throw out the first pitch. They'll then turn over the mound to Texas' Rick Helling and Toronto's Esteban Loaiza.

The locals on this baseball-loving island are extremely excited to be the hosts this time. They also know how to enjoy themselves at games, which should make for a carnival-like atmosphere at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

"I've played many games in that stadium, but this is going to be a little bit sweeter," Delgado said. "I'm so happy I'm a part of it. I'm going to enjoy every moment."


Friends of Darryl Strawberry expressed concern for his well being Saturday, two days after the former New York Yankee and Dodger outfielder left a drug treatment center in Tampa, Fla., where he was under house arrest.

A warrant was issued for Strawberry's arrest and local police officers were alerted, but Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said there was no active search because Strawberry, 39, was not considered a violent offender.


Brian Cole, among the top prospects in the Mets' farm system, was killed in a car crash Saturday, the team said.

The 22-year outfielder was driving home from spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla., to Meridian, Miss., to drop off his truck. He was to fly Sunday to Binghamton, N.Y., to join the Mets' double-A team.

Met spokesman Jay Horwitz said Cole's truck was hit by another vehicle near the Florida-Alabama border and he was killed almost instantly.


Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter will start the regular season on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right quadriceps and reserve outfielder Henry Rodriguez could be out two or three weeks because of a back muscle strain. . . . Mike Piazza's leadoff home run keyed a three-run seventh inning as the New York Mets rallied for a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game played at $262-million PNC Park in Pittsburgh. . . . Switch-hitting catcher Melvin Rosario was acquired by the Kansas City Royals from the Arizona Diamondbacks for infielder Ricardo Montas. . . . The San Francisco Giants purchased the triple-A contract of veteran catcher Benito Santiago, a four-time all-star.

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