Pettitte slowly getting better

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TAMPA, Fla. --- Andy Pettitte made 47 throws on level ground Monday, two days after the New York Yankees left-hander was scratched from a scheduled start because of lower back spasms.

"I feel better," Pettitte said. "I felt good enough to go out there and throw."

Pettitte threw for five minutes on a back field with pitching coaching Dave Eiland .

"It's still tight," Pettitte said. "There's still a little pull back there when I try to get out over my front side. So we'll see how I feel tomorrow."

Pettitte, who likely won't go on the disabled list, could throw off a mound Wednesday or Thursday.

TWINS: Closer Joe Nathan agreed to a $47 million, four-year contract, a deal that includes a 2012 club option on the two-time All-Star.

Nathan was in the final year of a contract that called for a $6 million salary in 2008. Several ace relievers around the majors were making far more.

Nathan gets $11.25 million in each of the next four seasons, and the Twins have a $12.5 million option for 2012 with a $2 million buyout.

ATHLETICS: Starter Joe Blanton will see what it's like to go up against a national hero.

Blanton will be on the mound for today's season-opener when the A's take on the World Series champion Boston Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka in Japan.

Matsuzaka will have a sold-out Tokyo Dome crowd and an entire nation behind him.

Since making his debut as a starter in the 2005, Blanton has been a model of consistency for the A's, winning 42 games over three seasons while making at least 32 starts each year.

The right-hander will be Oakland's No. 1 starter after Dan Haren was traded to Arizona.

PHILLIES: Closer Brad Lidge will start the regular season on the 15-day disabled list as he continues to rehab following arthroscopic knee surgery in February.

Lidge has resumed pitching in minor league games, but the Phillies decided the right-hander couldn't get enough innings in before spring training ends.

Tom Gordon will fill in at closer for Lidge, who could return in early April.

CUBS: Made Kerry Wood their closer and Jason Marquis their fifth starter.

Converted to a reliever last season to preserve his right arm, Wood entered spring training in a three-way competition with Bob Howry and Carlos Marmol after Ryan Dempster was moved to the rotation.

INDIANS: Left-hander Cliff Lee beat out Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers for the final spot in Cleveland's rotation.

Lee, demoted to the minors last season, pitched five scoreless innings Saturday against the New York Mets.

GIANTS: Infielder Kevin Frandsen ruptured his left Achilles' tendon in a minor league game Monday and could miss the entire season.


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