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A sudden Russ of enthusiasm...

To his credit, Russ Ortiz gave a relatively decent performance yesterday. Two hits and three K's over 4 2/3 innings - this is the kind of result you would expect from a man earning $7.9m this year. Of course, they were coupled with three walks, so led to two earned runs, but compared to the last couple of outings, this was not terrible. His spring ERA still sits at 8.53, which is definitely a lot higher than I'd like, but this performance indicates he can still produce a credible start, at least occasionally.

Ortiz departed after reaching his scheduled pitch count (75), and was replaced by Grimsley, who finished the fifth and got through the sixth without further incident. However, the wheels then fell off our bullpen, with Jarvis and Bruney starring in a horror-show which saw them allow seven earned runs over the next two innings, damaging both men's chances of making the roster. Jarvis was one of our 'Heroes' through the front two weeks, but with his ERA now up to six, he's most unlikely to be there after week three, even though he did pick up the win here. Bajenaru pitched a scoreless ninth, looked good doing so, and may be a dark horse - to prove his credentials, however, he needs to start appearing earlier in games, facing genuine major-leaguers instead of rookies and prospects that are there in the ninth.

Yes, I said "win". Despite letting the Rockies score nine, it was almost as if this was being played at Coors Field, for we scored twelve runs ourselves, on eighteen hits. Led by a three-run homer from Jerry Gil, we came back to score four runs in the ninth and clinch a 12-9 victory. Jackson went 2-for-3, scored three runs, drove in two, and also had our only walk. Estrada (batting second in the lineup - has Melvin been using the lineup generator?), Drew, Carter, Hairston and Barden also had two hits each, though Drew made his second error of the season.

Some bits and pieces. No word on Webb's new daughter-to-be, Claudia, at time of going to press: he's scheduled to pitch today's game, but may be involved with a different sort of mound, if his wife still hasn't given birth. Claudio Vargas would get the start instead. Did we all notice Edgar Gonzalez pitching for Mexico in their victory over the US earlier in the week? He got the victory, so if that was Roger Clemens' last game, EGon will be enshrined in baseball trivia history.

Craig Counsell got his first swings of spring in yesterday, during a minor-league game against the White Sox. Though the pitcher he faced was not your average minor-leaguer, being someone with a pair of no-hitters to his name and who twice led his league in K's: Hideo Nomo, now trying to catch on with Chicago. Counsell went 0-for-5 overall, grounding out each time, but I'm sure he was happy just to have a bat in his hands.

After the comments on yesterday's post, I'm a little more convinced on the David Wells front than I was. Though it seems a pointless move (even with him, I don't think we're a .500 team), it would give us a "name" pitcher to draw casual fans to the park. Just so long as we don't give up any meaningful prospects [so long, Koyie Hill - it was nice knowing you], I could live with a one-year rental. He will be 43 in two months, however, and I somehow doubt he has the fortitude and mental discipline necessary to keep his arm going, the way Johnson and Clemens do.

A cheap, incentive-laden contract would seem the way to go, then flip him to a contender at the trading deadline. Hell, with El Duque and Batista also likely on the block, Byrnes should follow our neighbours' example this morning, and simply have a yard sale. After all, by the middle of July, there will also be a whole load of 'Bank One Ballpark' signs that we need to get rid of - and hopefully a gently-used mascot costume too...