Kuo's comeback takes positive step
Reliever uses entire repertoire in bullpen session
MIAMI -- Reliever Hong-Chih Kuo had his best bullpen session yet in his latest comeback from elbow problems. Kuo, who threw only two Spring Training innings and none since March 19, made 30 pitches on Sunday, using his entire repertoire.
"I threw harder this time," said Kuo. "It feels all right, normal, not too bad. It's getting better."
Manager Joe Torre said that Kuo is close to beginning a Minor League rehab assignment but might need to throw to live hitters first.
Kuo's absence has been compounded by the continued problems of the only other lefty in the bullpen, George Sherrill, who let Saturday night's lead get away.
"I talked to Sherrill today," said Torre. "He had good stuff in the bullpen. He's worked so much on his mechanics, I told him to go out and just compete. Sometimes you think about too many things and don't just go out trusting. I said to forget about the other stuff."
Ethier expected to return on Tuesday
MIAMI -- Manager Joe Torre said on Sunday that he is confident Andre Ethier will return to the starting lineup for Tuesday's home opener.
Ethier missed his fourth consecutive start on Sunday because of an ankle sprained in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, but he appeared much improved during pregame agility drills. He came off the bench on Saturday night to hit a two-run pinch-hit single.
"He's a nice weapon to have," Torre said. "He'll be a player Tuesday. He's fine, but sending him into the field, to go to the corner to get a ball and turn around whirling, those things we don't know about."
In addition to replacing Ethier in Sunday's lineup, Torre rested left fielder Manny Ramirez, third baseman Casey Blake and catcher Russell Martin for the day game following a night game.
Carrying Garret Anderson as a fifth outfielder allows Torre to have both Ethier and Ramirez out of the lineup. Anderson started for Ethier in right field and Reed Johnson started for Ramirez in left. Ronnie Belliard started at third for Blake, and rookie A.J. Ellis was behind the plate for Martin.
In a jam? Weaver's your man
MIAMI -- Jeff Weaver bailed Vicente Padilla out of a two-on, one-out jam in the fifth inning on Saturday night by retiring Dan Uggla on a grounder and, after intentionally walking John Baker, getting a harmless tapper in front of the plate from former Dodger Cody Ross.
"He's got a bag of tricks," manager Joe Torre said.
Weaver, a long reliever and swingman last year, has emerged as the jam expert one week into the season. He has pitched in four games, allowed only one of six inherited runners to score, and hasn't allowed a run.
Ausmus to undergo MRI on Monday
MIAMI -- Disabled catcher Brad Ausmus, out with a pinched nerve in his back, is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the exact cause of his symptoms. Ausmus said that his big toe is still numb, which is believed to be the result of a nerve being pinched off.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.