Paul Hagen | Baseball balks at number of Rockies 'coaches'

Posted: March 23, 2007

REST WELL tonight. Yes, there may be malevolent forces out there, ready to strike. But Major League Baseball, ever vigilant, is on the case.

The Colorado Rockies found out this week. Did they think they could keep getting away with having Walt Weiss and Vinny Castilla, special assistants to general manager Dan O'Dowd, in uniform and on the bench

during games? Think again, my friends.

MLB is onto its little game. After an unidentified division

opponent, believed to be the Arizona Diamondbacks, complained that they were exceeding the legal limit of coaches, the Rockies were warned that they will be fined $10,000 each time either tries that ploy again.

MLB never sleeps

Just ask Giants lefthander Barry Zito. Darryl Hamilton, a top deputy of discipline czar Bob Watson, stopped by his locker recently. It seems that somebody in the commissioner's office noticed a Sports Illustrated photo showing Zito wearing a glove with different-colored laces.

Just ask Giants lefthander , a top deputy of discipline czar , stopped by his locker recently. It seems that somebody in the commissioner's office noticed a photo showing Zito wearing a glove with different-colored laces.

There are rules against that, you know. Wouldn't want major league hitters to be confused by clashing laces.

And never mind that the glove in the picture was one he wore for the last 2 years in Oakland without a complaint. When he exhibited the burgundy glove with tan laces he'd planned on using this season, Hamilton was undeterred. He took a snapshot that will be forwarded to New York for examination. Then Zito will be told whether he'll have to get a new glove.

"I'm like, 'If that ain't a crock,' " Zito said.

Watch it, Barry. You never know who might be listening.

You just can't be too careful these days. Why, if you aren't careful, next thing you know players might be trying to beat drug testing with HGH or other undetectable substances.

Hot stuff

* Scouts in Florida are buzzing

* Scouts in Florida are buzzing

about how well non-roster righthander Rick White, who hasn't allowed a run in 10 innings, is throwing for the Astros. Yes, that's the same Rick White who ended last season with the Phillies.

* According to the Washington

Post, the Nationals have quietly let it be known that they'll listen to offers for 6-11 righthander Jon Rauch, who had a breakthrough season in 2006 when he had a 3.35 ERA in 85 games.

* Red Sox catcher Jason

Varitek told a Pirates hitter this week that Daisuke Matsuzaka throws so many different pitches, "I need two hands to flash the signals."

* The Braves are so encouraged

by the progress lefthander Mike Hampton is making from the pulled ribcage muscle he suffered this spring that they now hope he can return to the rotation in late April or early May.

Around the bases

* The second season of "Ichiro

* The second season of "Ichiro

Versus" will begin airing soon in Japan. In each weekly show, the Mariners star matches wits against a well-known figure from a field such as drama, fashion, science or law. "The world is filled with different sensibilities," Ichiro said. "I think it's important to come in contact with people from as many different walks of life as possible. Otherwise, you limit what you can experience and you end up stifling your growth potential."

* Righthander Jason Marquis

is the first Cub to wear No. 21 since Sammy Sosa departed. Said Sosa: "It's only a number, but the respect I earned in Chicago, I think they shouldn't have given it away. But I don't make those decisions anymore."

* According to the Los Angeles

Times, former Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal spent $300,000 on solar panels for his home in Westlake Village, Calif. "I plan on being in the house for many years. In the long run, it will benefit me financially," he said.

* The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

reports the Mariners are close to finalizing a 10-year, $300 million cable television contract. That would be one of the most

lucrative deals in United States sports.

Quote-unquote

* Cubs manager Lou Piniella,

* Cubs manager ,

on hearing struggling closer

Ryan Dempster declare he'd be ready to open the season tomorrow: "And it'll be 86 degrees in Cincinnati and we're going to be drinking pina coladas. He needs a little more work."

* Mark Grace, appearing on

"The Best Damn Sports Show, Period," on Roger Clemens'

waffling on whether or not he'll pitch this year: "Just make a decision. The Houston Astros are being held hostage by you right now. You've had 5 months to make up your mind . . . Make up your mind, Roger."

* Rangers non-roster righthander Jamey Wright, on giving up four runs on eight hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings during his latest outing: "I wasn't too pleased with the results, but I'm throwing the ball well . . . I'm not going to put any doubts in my head."

By the numbers

* 2: Tripleplays turned by the

* Tripleplays turned by the

Angels this spring. The franchise has only six in its 46-year history.

* 25: Strikeouts, while facing

just 53 batters, for Oakland righthander Rich Harden in Cactus League play.

* 75: Home runs hit by the

Rockies at Coors Field last year, fewest in franchise history.

Finally

* Red Sox righthander Curt

Schilling is writing a blog - 38pitches.com - and yesterday broke the news in it that Boston will solve its closer problem by moving Jonathan Papelbon back to the bullpen.

* Red Sox righthander is writing a blog - 38pitches.com - and yesterday broke the news in it that Boston will solve its closer problem by moving back to the bullpen.

One recent posting, involving an account of his day, drew an amusing response from a reader. "Hey, thanks for the update on your workday. Here's how mine went," it began.

After a detailed account of his travails, he mentions that he went home, watched some college hoops and the news on television and concludes by saying, "Then I told a guy that plays for a team I will always root against, a guy that probably doesn't give a crap about .0001% of the state or part of the country he pitches in, a guy that I hope the Yankees pound every time out, about my day . . . Anyway, keep me updated on life as a baseball player and I'll keep you updated on being a middle-class Yankees fan living in Massachusetts." *

Send e-mail to hagenp@phillynews.com.

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