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Cook tweaks slider, but Rockies lose

He throws 10 to 15 of his improved pitches vs. Royals

Los Angeles Dodgers' Manny Ramirez is happy after a called strike in the fourth inning Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale. Ramirez eventually drew a walk.

Los Angeles Dodgers' Manny Ramirez is happy after a called strike in the fourth inning Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale. Ramirez eventually drew a walk.

SURPRISE – Aaron Cook worked on his slider throughout spring training and called it his most improved pitch after working three innings in the Colorado Rockies’ 6-5 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.

Cook gave up three runs and seven hits in his final outing before Monday’s opening-day start against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The right-hander, who was 16-9 with a 3.96 ERA last year, said he threw 10 to 15 sliders against the Royals.

“I feel really confident with my other pitches,” Cook said. “It is just going to give me some other weapons. When I don’t feel great, I can go out there and mix it up a little bit instead of having to rely on my sinker the whole time. Instead of them looking for it, it will give them other looks and other things to worry about hopefully.”

The Rockies’ rotation is set with Ubaldo Jimenez, Franklin Morales, Jason Marquis and Jorge De La Rosa behind Cook in that order.

“I think we’ve got a really strong staff,” Cook said. “We tend to fly under the radar a little bit, and that’s fine with us. We just go out there and know what we can do and just give our offense a chance to score some runs and hopefully win a bunch of ballgames.”

Around MLB

The St. Louis Cardinals are going to be without Troy Glaus for longer than they expected after the third baseman had a setback in his rehabilitation from arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

Glaus originally was expected to miss only a few weeks of the regular season. But St. Louis said Wednesday that Glaus will be re-evaluated around June 1.

“It’s just not responding as quickly as we’d hoped,” Glaus said in Jupiter, Fla. “It obviously didn’t go as smoothly or uneventfully as we had hoped.”

David Freese is the top candidate to start at third with Glaus out. The 25-year-old rookie, acquired from the Padres for Jim Edmonds in 2007, hit .306 with 26 homers and 91 RBIs at Triple-A Memphis last season.

General manager John Mozeliak told The Associated Press that Glaus might have pushed too hard in his rehab schedule. He said Glaus’ progress will be assessed in a few weeks.

“Sometimes, being overly optimistic can hurt you,” Mozeliak said. “When a player is aggressive trying to move, sometimes it can affect him.”

Glaus began throwing, hitting off a tee and fielding grounders midway through spring training, but stopped after soreness lingered longer than expected. He was examined in California last week by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who performed the surgery in January.

Glaus will be in St. Louis for opening day on Monday, then travel to Phoenix to continue his rehab. He’ll be working with physical therapist Keith Kocher, who helped Glaus rehab from shoulder surgery in 2004.

• Delayed by a late contract and a subsequent hamstring injury, Manny Ramirez lobbied for extended playing time in the Dodgers’ four remaining exhibition games before their regular-season opener April 6 at San Diego.

“It’s up to Joe (Torre), but I need the at-bats and I need to get in the outfield,” Ramirez said in Scottsdale. “I haven’t played a lot because of my hamstring. Everybody is three weeks ahead of me and I’m trying to catch up, you know?”

Ramirez has played 10 games this spring, half in the field, and has 10 hits in 21 at-bats. He has one home run, six walks and five strikeouts.

• Texas cleared the way for Andruw Jones to make its opening-day roster by releasing Frank Catalanotto. The move gives Jones the team’s final roster spot as a fifth outfielder and right-handed hitting DH.

The Rangers also gave the final spot in their rotation to Kris Benson, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2006.

• Tampa Bay reliever Jason Isringhausen will begin the season on the disabled list, a move that will give him additional time to build arm strength following elbow surgery.

• Florida made two trades, acquiring first baseman Ross Gload and cash from Kansas City and pitcher Hayden Penn from the Baltimore Orioles. The Marlins gave up infielder Robert Andino in the Penn deal and will send a minor leaguer to the Royals.

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