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Benches clear after Beckett beans Ordonez; Prior roughed up again

Associated Press • Mar 11, 2007 at 10:12 AM

The Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers nearly came to blows after Josh Beckett hit Magglio Ordonez in the side of the head with a breaking ball.

Mark Prior had his own problems on the mound - he couldn't get the Kansas City Royals out.

Ordonez was hit in the helmet by a pitch Saturday, sending the Detroit slugger to the hospital and sparking a testy exchange between two of the AL's top teams in Lakeland, Fla.

Beckett plunked Gary Sheffield with a first-inning pitch and nailed Ordonez in the third, forcing him from the game. He was treated at a hospital.

Detroit reliever Todd Jones then threw behind Boston's J.D. Drew in the fifth, and the benches and bullpens emptied. Players converged near home plate, but no punches were thrown.

Jones and Tigers manager Jim Leyland were ejected.

In the clubhouse after Detroit's 7-6 loss, Ordonez wore a bandage that covered much of his head. He declined to comment.

Red Sox reliever Travis Hughes also hit Chris Shelton with a pitch in the eighth. Eric Hinske's grand slam off Justin Verlander keyed Boston's five-run first inning.

At Surprise, Ariz., Prior's second appearance of spring training was just about as bad as his first. Now, the former Cubs ace might very well be in danger of not making Chicago's rotation at all.

Prior relieved an effective Ted Lilly to start the fourth inning and was knocked around in Kansas City's 6-5 victory over the Cubs. The right-hander gave up four runs and four hits in two innings.

"I know I'm better than that," said Prior, an 18-game winner in 2003.

In two appearances covering 3 1-3 innings this spring, Prior has an 18.90 ERA and no strikeouts. He has given up eight hits, five walks and a home run.

"Right now, I'm just worried about playing. Worried about trying to make myself better," he said. "When all that comes through at the end, if I make myself better and I'm pitching the way I can, then I'm helping the ballclub. But right now I'm just worried about getting better myself. What I did the last two outings is not the way I want to pitch." Prior, who missed most of 2006 during a third consecutive season of injuries, threw 40 pitches, mostly fastballs that registered in the low-to-mid 80s.

Nevertheless, first-year Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he detected improvement. "He threw the ball a little better," Piniella said. "Again, he couldn't get his breaking ball over at all. He's pitching with one pitch and he's not locating that pitch. So it's not really a recipe for success right now." Piniella said there's time for Prior to work things out. "We'll keep pitching him," he said. "That's what spring training's for. We've got a long way to go in spring training. There's plenty of time to pick five starters, and we'll leave it at that."

Among other games:

At Scottsdale, Ariz., Barry Bonds homered for the second consecutive day but said he wants to concentrate on hitting more line drives. Barry Zito became the first Giants pitcher to go four innings this spring, allowing four runs, five hits and two walks in a 79-pitch outing.

At Viera, Fla., Tim Redding didn't help his chances of earning a spot in Washington's rotation, allowing four runs, five hits and two walks in two innings.

At Bradenton, Fla., Kei Igawa felt more comfortable in his second exhibition outing for New York, other than the homer and double he gave up to Ronny Paulino. Igawa struck out four and walked none but gave up five hits in three innings.

At Kissimmee, Fla., Mark Redman pitched three strong innings for Atlanta. The left-hander agreed to a minor league contract Friday to replace injured Mike Hampton in the rotation.

At Winter Haven, Fla., Trot Nixon played three pain-free innings in his first exhibition game for Cleveland. Coming off back surgery in December, Nixon started in right field and went 0-for-2.

At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Adam Wainwright blanked Baltimore on five hits through 4 2-3 innings. The former closer has yet to allow a run in three starts this spring.

At Phoenix, Milwaukee newcomer Jeff Suppan was tagged for three homers and five runs on seven hits.

At Peoria, Ariz., Terrmel Sledge led off the game with his fourth home run and Josh Bard also connected for San Diego.

At Tucson, Ariz., Chicago lefty Mark Buehrle gave up six runs and six hits in four innings.

At Tucson, Ariz., Joe Crede got three hits for Chicago and is batting .522 in eight games. A.J. Pierzynski hit a two-run homer.

AP-CS-03-10-07 2305EST

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