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Carlos Garcia, trying to prove he can bounce back from batting .220 with Toronto last season, was placed on unconditional release waivers by the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.

Garcia, a standout with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons from 1990-1992, was a distant second to Shawon Dunston in the contest for the second-base job. Garcia hit .192 in 12 spring games after an offensive dropoff in 1997.

"We looked at Carlos at the second-base position and felt we had better talent ahead of him," manager Mike Hargrove said. "We looked at him in a utility role and felt the same thing. He was good in the clubhouse and good on the field. He just didn't fit here."

Garcia is a career .269 hitter in seven seasons. The third competitor at second base is prospect Enrique Wilson, but he stands a good chance to start the season in Buffalo. He's battling Jeff Branson for the utility infielder job.

The Tribe signed Garcia to a non-guaranteed contract for $650,000 and are responsible only for $161,602 in termination pay.

Gooden does home cooking

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- With nearly 30 friends and family in the stands near his hometown of Tampa, Dwight Gooden pitched five strong innings in his next-to-last outing of the spring.

Gooden, who missed his previous start because of two rainouts, allowed two runs and seven hits, walking two and striking out three in the 81-pitch outing. Cleveland lost, 5-4, to the Philadelphia Phillies in 10 innings.

Pitching about 20 miles from Hillsborough High School, Gooden had 22 family members in the stands, including his mother Ella, and a half dozen friends.

Gooden will make his last exhibition start for the Buffalo Bisons in Winter Haven on Monday while the rest of the team travels to Seattle for the season opener on Tuesday. He is scheduled to start the Indians' third game of the season at Anaheim.

Alex Arias went 4-for-5, including the winning hit in the 10th inning, for Philadelphia.

Bisons earn first victory

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Buffalo Bisons finally made it into the win column, edging the Richmond Braves, 7-5.

David Miller and Ryan Upshaw each drove in two runs for the Herd (1-4-1), while Jason Jacome struck out five in six innings, giving up two earned runs.

The Bisons play the Toledo Mudhens at 1 p.m. today in Winter Haven.

Rockies share mile-high salutes

The Mile High salute worked so well for the Denver Broncos that now the Colorado Rockies are copying it.

Dante Bichette hit three home runs and Larry Walker hit two more as Colorado connected seven times in all to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 11-10.

The power surge gave the Rockies a chance to practice their version of the salute, popularized last season by the Super Bowl champion Broncos.

Walker gave a military salute as Bichette crossed home plate following the first of his homers. Bichette returned the favor after Walker's two homers.

"It's something I've been thinking about all spring," Walker said. "Being that it's coming from Denver, it's not coming from our cockiness. It's just our salute that the Broncos did, and hopefully what worked for them will work for us.

"If guys start getting hit in the neck by pitchers, then it wasn't my idea. Guys do all kinds of things after home runs, whether it's the forearm bash or a high-five underneath. Now we've got the salute," Walker said.

Around the camps

The New York Mets placed pitchers Paul Wilson and Armando Reynoso on the 15-day disabled list so they can recover from shoulder problems. Wilson is attempting to come back from arthroscopic shoulder surgery that sidelined him for almost all of last season. Reynoso, 31, underwent season-ending surgery in July to have bone chips removed from his elbow and a frayed labrum repaired in his shoulder.

The Milwaukee Brewers acquired Eric Owens from the Florida Marlins, the second time the utility player has been traded in the past five days. Owens, 27, was acquired by Florida from the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.

Outfielder Billy Ashley cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Albuquerque by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kevin Tapani pitched six scoreless innings for the Cubs in an 8-1 victory over the Angels.

Hipolito Pichardo (2-0) extended his scoreless-innings streak to 14 in five exhibition outings as the Royals topped the Tigers, 1-0. Pichardo has been named the Royals' fifth starter.

Jeff Bagwell and Carl Everett hit two-run homers in the first inning as the Astros defeated the Braves, 6-3. The homers came against 42-year-old Dennis Martinez (0-2), who is expected to fill in as the Braves' fifth starter while John Smoltz recovers from elbow surgery.

The Braves placed reliever Brad Clontz on waivers. Clontz was 5-1 with one save and a 3.75 ERA last season. The side-arming right-hander went 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 11 innings this spring, but it wasn't enough to earn one of two vacancies in the bullpen.

Tony Fernandez drove in three runs and the Blue Jays, despite having two runners thrown out at the plate on the same play, beat the Yankees, 6-5.

Fernandez was nailed at home in an unusual play in the second. After center fielder Bernie Williams misplayed Shawn Green's line drive, Fernandez nearly caught up with teammate Shannon Stewart as they headed home. Both were tagged out by catcher Jorge Posada following Derek Jeter's relay.

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