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PHILLIPS PLAYS AT HOME, THEN GETS SENT TO BISONS

The Cleveland Indians set their 25-man roster Saturday with the expected demotion of infielder Brandon Phillips, who lost the spring training competition for starting shortstop to Jhonny Peralta.

Phillips, who lives in Stone Mountain, Ga., was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo after the Indians' final exhibition game against Atlanta.

"He did a great job," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "He's got a great attitude. He'll be a fantastic big-league player."

Phillips hit only .125 (5 for 40) this spring. He hit .303 in 135 games for Buffalo last season and .182 in six games with Cleveland.

"It was a blessing I got to play here," Phillips said of the exhibition game in Turner Field. "I always wanted to play here. To play in front of family and friends, that was beautiful.

"I'll be back up. I'll be ready. I'll go down, have a good season and be back up here in a heartbeat."

Yanks' Brown is hurting

NEW YORK -- Kevin Brown will miss his first scheduled start of the season for the New York Yankees and could go on the disabled list because of a stiff back.

Brown went home to Macon, Ga., to work with his physical therapist Saturday and was to call General Manager Brian Cashman with a report. Jaret Wright will pitch in Brown's place Friday against Baltimore in Yankee Stadium.

Brown's balky back flared up again Friday, when he left his final spring training start after only three innings.

"I know he felt he did something a couple of starts ago. (Friday), smartly, he stopped and pulled himself out early," manager Joe Torre said. "He's done this before, go down there and have some work done, making some adjustments with his own doctor. This time off here maybe can help get it back to where he feels comfortable."

The 40-year-old right-hander is expected to rejoin the team in time for tonight's season opener against Boston. He is tentatively slated to start in Baltimore on April 15, when Wright was originally scheduled to make his Yankees debut.

But Torre said it was possible the Yankees would put Brown on the 15-day disabled list. That way they could replace him on the active roster with another player and avoid being short-handed for nearly two weeks.

If Brown goes on the DL, he would not be eligible to pitch until April 17.

"Let's see what we hear back first and try to make a plan," Torre said.

Bonds goes on DL

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The San Francisco Giants placed Barry Bonds on the 15-day disabled list Saturday as they finalized their roster for opening day, the third time the slugger has been on the DL in his career.

The move is retroactive to March 25. Bonds, who will begin his 20th major league season, is recovering from two operations on his troublesome right knee in a seven-week span, the latest on March 17.

Bonds has been rehabilitating his knee in San Francisco and isn't sure when he'll return to resume his quest for the career home run record. His 703 homers trail only Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755).

Bonds last went on the disabled list from April 18 to June 9, 1999, as he recovered from elbow surgery.

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