Damon sits out against Yankees


By The Associated Press

LAKELAND, Fla. — Detroit Tigers outfielder Johnny Damon is sitting out against his former team because of a sore toe.

Damon was scratched for what would have been his first spring training game against the New York Yankees on Wednesday after stubbing his right big toe “running around in the yard” a day earlier.

Damon says he could have played if it was “life or death,” joking that some people consider a Tigers-Yankees spring training game to be just that. But he wanted to stay off the toe for a day. Tigers manager Jim Leyland says Damon will probably play Thursday.

Curtis Granderson, who was traded by the Tigers to the Yankees on Dec. 9, was scheduled to lead off for New York. Rookie Austin Jackson, who went the other way in the same trade, was leading off for Detroit.

Athletics’ Crisp hampered by hamstring

PHOENIX — Coco Crisp leaned over to pick up his bat from the on-deck circle and felt a “prickle” in his left hamstring. He still took his third at-bat Tuesday, and his leg told him two more times he wasn’t right: in the batter’s box and running to first on a single.

The new Oakland Athletics center fielder said Wednesday he has a strain in the hamstring and it isn’t clear how long he might be sidelined. He already was being limited to designated-hitter duties as he fully recovers from operations on both shoulders last summer, but the plan was for him to play the field for the first time this weekend. Not now.

Crisp will undergo treatment for the next few days — and he hopes to still be ready by opening day April 5 at home against Seattle. Though this latest development doesn’t help matters.

“It’s nothing bad,” he said. “I had a severely strained hamstring in Double-A on my right leg. This is the first time I’ve had anything with my left leg. I reached over to pick up my bat from the on-deck circle and felt my hamstring prickle like someone poked me really hard in the back of the leg.”

Crisp, who is being listed as day-to-day, received treatment Wednesday morning on the leg, which he had wrapped. The 30-year-old Crisp signed a $5.25 million, one-year contract in December and is among several big offseason acquisitions that general manager Billy Beane hopes will make the A’s a contender again in the AL West.

Hunter clarifies comments about Latino players

PHOENIX — Los Angeles Angels center fielder Torii Hunter insists he meant no harm toward Latino players when he referred to them as “impostors” while discussing the number of African-Americans in the major leagues.

Hunter’s original comments were made two weeks ago in one of a series of USA Today roundtables about baseball and published in Wednesday’s editions.

“What troubles me most was the word “impostors” appearing in reference to Latin American players not being black players. It was the wrong word choice, and it definitely doesn’t accurately reflect how I feel and who I am,” Hunter posted on his Angels-sponsored blog Wednesday afternoon.

“What I meant was they’re not black players; they’re Latin American players. There is a difference culturally. But on the field, we’re all brothers, no matter where we come from, and that’s something I’ve always taken pride in: treating everybody the same, whether he’s a superstar or a young kid breaking into the game. Where he was born and raised makes no difference.”

Hunter has long been known as one of baseball’s sincere, good guys.

In the blog post, he added: “I am hurt by how the comments attributed to me went off the track and misrepresented how I feel. My whole identity has been about bringing people together, from my neighborhood to the clubhouse. The point I was trying to make was that there is a difference between black players coming from American neighborhoods and players from Latin America. In the clubhouse, there is no difference at all. We’re all the same.

“We all come from different places and backgrounds. Coming from Pine Bluff, Ark., my hometown, is no different than being a kid from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. We all share the common bond of a love of baseball, and it pulls us together on the field and in the clubhouse,” he wrote.