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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: Gary Sheffield, King of Queens

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Consider this a (very) dry run for this year's Closing Time, albeit this sound check will be shorter (and earlier) than the real editions to come. Let's have a look at the Friday news.

Gary Sheffield wasn't out of work long, as he came to a quick agreement with the Mets after clearing waivers. Sheffield probably steps to the front of the right-field mix and take away at-bats from Ryan Church and Fernando Tatis, but it's also possible he'll spell Daniel Murphy now and then. Carlos Beltran's outfield responsibility gets even greater with the addition of the 40-year-old Sheffield, that's for sure.

Ichiro Suzuki (bleeding ulcer) went on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 31. He's fully expected to return when first eligible on April 15. Ken Griffey Jr. might play some right field while Ichiro is out, and Wladimir Balentien is another option - if he makes the club.

Trevor Hoffman (oblique) continues to rehab at his own pace and probably won't be ready to return when he's first eligible on April 11, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Carlos Villanueva heads the bullpen committee while Hoffman is out.

To no one's surprise Jordan Schafer has been named Atlanta's starting center fielder. Schafer's defense had a lot to do with him getting the gig, but he also impressed with his bat this month (.333, 13 runs, five steals). Gregor Blanco, for what it's worth, didn't even make the club; he's been optioned to Triple-A.

Justin Morneau continues to battle a stiff back and it's not clear if he'll be able to play in Monday's opener against Seattle. Morneau said he was feeling better Friday morning and did some drills, but he didn't take any swings.

Chris Carpenter (calf) had a decent bullpen session and remains on target to start Thursday against Pittsburgh.

B.J. Ryan worked a scoreless inning against Florida, with a walk and a strikeout. Given the buzz about his decreased velocity this spring, every positive outing helps. Scott Downs also had a clean inning in the Toronto victory.

Bronson Arroyo (carpal tunnel) was knocked around in a start against a Double-A club (three innings, six runs) and you don't want him anywhere near your active roster for the opening week. There's a chance the Reds will push him back, anyway, to start the year. Francisco Cordero was also lit up in the same game (three runs), putting the finishing touches on a horrendous camp for him (10.2 IP, 16 ER).

Emilio Bonifacio is going to start the year as Florida's leadoff man, much to the chagrin of Cameron Maybin owners. Maybin will bat eighth against righties and second against left-handers.

Brandon Morrow's shift back to the bullpen was in part related to managing his diabetes, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Jeremy Hermida hit his fifth homer of the spring Friday and Aaron Hill cracked his second, if you're looking for a post-hype sleeper at your weekend draft. Hermida has a .288/.349/.548 line this spring, while widely-available Hill is at .286/.365/.554 with nine doubles.

Joe Saunders should be ready on opening day after throwing 40 pitches on Thursday. He had been dealing with a dead arm earlier in the month.

Pat Burrell received multiple ovations during Friday's game at Philadelphia; welcome to the honeymoon period for the Phillies faithful. We'll see how long it lasts.

Amiranta, here's a kiss, I chose you to end this list. We'll see you Sunday night, peeps.


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