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Yankees left-hander Carlos Rodón gives up 2 homers vs. Rays; Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani stays hot

Carlos Rodón gave up two more homers over three-plus innings on Wednesday in the New York Yankees' 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

AL batting champion Yandy Díaz homered on the game’s first pitch, a 93 mph fastball. Richie Palocios had a two-run drive on Rodón’s 60th and final offering at Tampa, Florida. Rodón allowed three runs and five hits

“He didn’t have great life on his fastball today,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I thought, really, in between the first and the last pitch I felt he pitched really well.”

Rodon went 3-8 with a 6.85 ERA in 14 starts during an injury-filled 2023. He is in the second season of a $162 million, six-year contract.

“I just need to stay on the mound,” Rodón said. “I’m pretty good when I’m healthy.”

Rodón was coming off a simulated game last Friday in which he allowed four homers to Yankees’ minor leaguers over three innings. He allowed one hit, a solo homer, in 2 1/3 innings against Toronto in his other spring training start on Feb. 25.

Yankees outfielder Alex Verdugo returned to the lineup and struck out in all three at-bats. He had been out with a bruised left leg after getting hit by a pitch last Saturday against Baltimore.

Reliever Tommy Kahnle, slowed by a shoulder injury, said “it’s trending” that he won’t be ready for opening day and may not start pitching in rehab games until the first week of the regular season.

OHTANI KEEPS HITTING

Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani went 2 for 2 with a walk against the Chicago White Sox and is 7 of 12 with seven RBIs so far in Cactus League play.

The 29-year-old Ohtani is in his first season with the Dodgers since signing a record $700 million, 10-year contract. The two-way Japanese star had right elbow surgery in September that will keep him from pitching this year.

GIOLITO EXPLORING OPTIONS ON AILING ELBOW

Red Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito will be headed to Alabama for a second opinion on his ailing right elbow.

Manager Alex Cora told reporters that Giolito will go to Birmingham on Monday to talk with Dr. Jeffrey R. Dugas as they explore treatment options, including surgery.

Giolito signed a $38.5 million, two-year deal with Boston. He made two starts in spring training, throwing two scoreless innings in his first outing before getting roughed up allowing four runs and three walks in 2 1/3 innings against Minnesota last Friday. Giolito then reported the discomfort in his elbow.

Giolito was the first overall pick by Washington in the 2012 amateur draft, agreed to a $2,925,000 signing bonus and made his professional debut that Aug. 14 in the Gulf Coast League. That was his only appearance before Tommy John surgery on Aug. 31, 2012, with Dr. Lewis Yocum.

The 29-year-old Giolito was an All-Star in 2019 and is 61-62 with a 4.43 ERA.

BELLINGER MAKES SPRING DEBUT

Chicago Cubs star Cody Bellinger made his spring training debut against the Los Angeles Angels, finishing with a walk in three plate appearances.

Bellinger finalized an $80 million, three-year deal on Feb. 27. He had a bounce-back season with the Cubs in 2023, batting .307 with 26 homers and 20 stolen bases.

ROSARIO TO NATS ON MINOR LEAGUE DEAL

Outfielder Eddie Rosario and the Washington Nationals have agreed to a minor league contract with a non-roster invitation to spring training, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Rosario’s agreement had not been announced. The deal is pending the successful completion of a physical exam.

The 32-year-old Rosario is a left-handed hitter who has played nine seasons in the major leagues with the Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves.

He started most of Atlanta’s games in left field last season, hitting 21 homers with 74 RBIs while batting .255. But the Braves — who led the majors with 104 wins in 2023 — declined a $9 million option for him this season.

Rosario was a star of Atlanta’s run to the 2021 World Series title. In the NL Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers that year, he hit .560 (14 of 35) with three homers and nine RBIs to win MVP honors.

LOWE WORKING BACK TO '21 FORM

Rays infielder Brandon Lowe is healthy and working to put the previous two injury-marred seasons behind him.

After hitting 39 homers and driving in 99 runs in 2021, Lowe was limited to 65 games in 2022 and 109 last year due to back and knee injuries.

“Don’t worry about results for a little while, and go out here and try to make sure to take your at-bats, get your timing down,” Lowe said. “Try to put yourself in as many situations as you can to emulate the season and make sure that you’re healthy.”

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said Lowe looks good and is motivated.

“I like the fact that he’s able to do everything,” Cash said. “He had to pull back on some of his routine, some of the amount of ground balls that he could take last year even before he got banged up because we were managing the workload on his back and then he fouled the ball off the knee and couldn’t do anything.”

CREWS HITS HR FOR NATS

Dylan Crews, last year's No. 2 overall pick for the Nationals, hit his first spring training homer against the Miami Marlins. He finished 2 for 3 and also had a double, two runs scored and two RBIs, lifting his batting average to .286.

The 22-year-old was a star in college at LSU, where he was teammates with No. 1 overall pick Paul Skenes, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

ADOLIS GARCÍA

Adolis García made his first 2024 appearance in a Cactus League game, going 1 for 3 with a solo home run down the left field line in the fourth inning. García, who had batted in camp games and Tuesday’s “B” game against Kansas City, was the Rangers’ designated hittee.

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AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich and AP freelance writer Mark Didtler contributed to this report.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb