Kuo Back on the Mound

Hong-Chih Kuo, being handled gingerly this Spring because of what manager Joe Torre calls “a balky elbow,” had his first bullpen session in four days Monday morning and appeared to be throwing comfortably. Kuo is always a question mark because of the four elbow operations he’s undergone.

Torre also said Cory Wade and Yhency Brazoban, who have had cortisone shots for shoulder problems, have resumed playing catch.

Although Torre said he doesn’t want to think about not having unsigned free agent Manny Ramirez in left field, he concedes he’s thinking about it enough “not to get short” in case he doesn’t have Ramirez. So he’s told Casey Blake he’ll get some work in left field in some early games. And he repeated that Blake DeWitt will see action at shortstop, in addition to third base and second base.

Torre said Claudio Vargas, a contender for the fifth-starter job, will get the start in Wednesday’s exhibition opener against the Cubs at Mesa. Eric Milton, Stephen Randolph, Nick DeBarr and Carmen Cali are also scheduled to pitch. On Thursday against the Giants at Scottsdale, Randy Wolf will start with Jeff Weaver, Eric Stults, Jonathan Broxton, Tanyon Sturtze, Edgar Martinez and Scott Strickland on the list.

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