JUPITER, Fla. – Daisuke Matsuzaka reached to snare a line drive, then grinned and bowed to his shortstop. It turns out the rookie from Japan is a pretty good fielder. “My readiness for the season is difficult to judge from the outside,” Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. “I’m probably 40 to 50 percent there.” His fastball topped out at a brisk 151 – that’s kilometers per hour, as measured by Japanese TV. It translates to 94 mph. PHOENIX – Mike Piazza was hit just above his left elbow by a pitch from the Kansas City Royals’ Brian Bannister, and the designated hitter came out of Oakland’s exhibition game Tuesday. The A’s announced the injury as a bruised left triceps. BRADENTON, Fla. – Reigning NL batting champion Freddy Sanchez hurt his right knee Tuesday and left the Pittsburgh Pirates’ exhibition game against the Philadelphia Phillies. He can pitch, too: Matsuzaka threw three scoreless innings for the Boston Red Sox when he faced major-league hitters for the first time on Tuesday. Dice-K gave up two hits, walked one and struck out three to help Boston beat the Florida Marlins 14-6 in 10 innings. The right-hander threw 47 pitches, 31 for strikes, including a first-pitch strike to 10 of 12 batters. He escaped a one-out jam in the second after giving up a walk and a double. JUPITER, Fla. – Jason Isringhausen struggled to throw strikes Tuesday in his first batting practice of spring training, another step as the St. Louis Cardinals closer comes back from hip surgery that sidelined him during the postseason. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
HONOLULU — With the Lakers finishing out of the playoffs for the first time in his career, Kobe Bryant had an entire summer to go through every scenario that could await him on the basketball court: From chasing after point guards to posting up down low. A week into training camp, though, Bryant’s role in Phil Jackson’s offense and defense has become more defined. The changes will be anything but cosmetic to those who remember how Jackson used Bryant in his previous five years as coach. “We’ll probably mix it up a little bit, depending on who we’re playing, what we want to do defensively that night,” Bryant said. “Some nights, I’ll probably be on the ball, some nights I’ll be off the ball. Some nights, I’ll be a roamer.” Jackson also could see Tuesday how Smush Parker and Aaron McKie handle Davis and leave Bryant on shooting guard Jason Richardson in a more traditional matchup. The Lakers are expecting rookie center Andrew Bynum (abdominal strain) and guard Laron Profit (strained calf) not to play in their first two exhibition games. Forward Lamar Odom took the first blow to his surgically repair left shoulder and was uninjured. Ross Siler can be reached at (818) 713-3607. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Bryant described the wing on Sunday as “more of a striking position.” He has spoken highly of Jackson’s new version of the triangle offense, one that will have more flexibility than when Shaquille O’Neal was anchored at center. “Everybody will be truly interchangeable,” Bryant said. “We’ll be moving pieces of the puzzle around more so than we did in the past and see if that works for us.’ Jackson also said he would like to see Bryant return to the form that made him a perennial all-defensive team selection. “I thought last year, Kobe had really a down year defensively,” Jackson said. “He was trying to do a lot, trying to get the ball back a lot of times. That he doesn’t have to do with this team as much. We’re going to help each other out more.’ Jackson suggested Bryant might be asked to defend opposing point guards more than he did last season for Rudy Tomjanovich. His first opportunity, Jackson said, could come against Baron Davis in Tuesday’s exhibition opener against Golden State. On offense, Bryant will move from the backcourt, where he shared the responsibility of bringing up the ball and initiating the offense, to the wing, a position that will allow him to better size up defensive weak points and use his size to drag a defender into the post. The wing also should give Bryant more opportunities as a scorer, though he had little trouble putting up 40-point games in his previous role. Bryant also said moving to wing should help him conserve energy, since he won’t have to handle the ball as much. read more