John Smoltz said he felt no discomfort while throwing yesterday morning, the first time he tested his right shoulder since he was held out of his last scheduled spring start.
Smoltz was encouraged that the stiffness that caused him to miss a start Friday was gone. The Atlanta Braves' ace still appears almost certain to open the season on the disabled list.
He could come off the DL to make his first start April 6, against the New York Mets.
Smoltz said he hopes to throw off a mound today or tomorrow and then throw again Saturday. He might need to start in a minor-league game before being ready for the regular season.
Mike Gonzalez, recovering from ligament replacement surgery on his left elbow, said he hopes to come off the disabled list by the first week of May.
Chicago agreed on a $1.3 million, one-year contract with Reed Johnson, adding depth and a right-handed bat to their outfield.
Milwaukee released pitcher Claudio Vargas, a move that puts the team closer to finalizing its starting rotation.
Jorge Cantu has won the battle to replace Miguel Cabrera at third base for Florida.
Jayson Nix has won Colorado's open auditions for its second base job after the departure of Kaz Mastui.
San Diego exercised manager Bud Black's option for the 2009 season. Black made his managerial debut with the Padres in 2007.
Joe Crede was named starting third baseman over Josh Fields. The team announced that Fields, who hit 23 home runs as a rookie, will start the season at Class AAA Charlotte.
Andy Pettitte will miss his first scheduled start of the regular season on April 2 against Toronto because of back spasms.
Tim Hudson pitched effectively into the fourth inning of his final tuneup for the Atlanta Braves' season opener in a 5-4 loss to the New York Mets. Johann Santana prepared for his opening-day outing against the Braves by facing minor leaguers. ... Mark Buehrle showed pinpoint command in leading the Chicago White Sox to a 5-2 win against the Colorado Rockies.