Marlins

Around The Horn Of The Grapefruit League – 2/22/12

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JUPITER, Fla. (CBSMiami) – New Miami Marlins pitcher Carlos Zambrano decided to get his spring training started with a bang Wednesday.

Zambrano, who is coming off the worst year of his career, was throwing from the mound Wednesday and decided to throw one brushback pitch…to Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen.

The manager was leaning on a bat near home plate watching Zambrano when the three-time All Star zinged a fastball right past the manager. Guillen let out a yell and dodged the pitch with a frantic skip.

Zambrano was thrown out of Chicago after he quit the team last year. His combative personality didn’t play well in Chicago, but the hope is he and Guillen can channel the combustible elements into another solid starter for the Marlins.

Elsewhere around the Grapefruit League in Florida…

Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard took live batting practice for the first time since he tore his left Achilles tendon on the final out of the team’s 1-0 loss to St. Louis during last year’s playoffs. Howard didn’t put a time limit on his return, but said he’s only been swinging a bat for the last two weeks.

Howard won the 2006 NL MVP award and last season hit .253 with 33 home runs and 116 RBIs. But, when the playoffs rolled around, Howard hit just .105 with one homer and six RBIs in the NL divisional round.

In Tampa, the Yankees announced they have signed injured starting pitcher David Aardsma to a one-year contract. The 30-year-old pitcher spent all of 2011 on the injured list and had Tommy John surgery last July.

Aardsma is 13-15 with a 4.20 ERA in 254 relief appearances over six seasons.

In Fort Myers, the Red Sox are on the lookout for catcher Jason Varitek. For 15 years, Varitek has manned the position, but he hasn’t shown up for the first two days of workouts for pitchers and catchers.

The 40-year-old captain was offered a minor league deal several months ago, but Varitek is yet to let the team know what he is going to do. He could be contemplating retirement from the Majors. The Red Sox have catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia as the squad’s likely starting catcher.

Finally, in Kissimmee, Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla wants to start his second season in Hotlanta much better than his first one.

Last year, Uggla was ugly through the first hal of the season. On July 4, he was hitting .173 and even after a 33-game hitting streak, he still only managed to hit .233 for the season. But, he also led the Braves with 36 homers and 82 RBIs.

But, for the Braves to reach the next level, Uggla knows that a good start is a necessity. It will also justify the $62 million contract he received from the team.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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