FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 27 -- Sidney Ponson's estrangement from the media lasted just one day. The pitcher talked to reporters on Sunday, a day after being demoted to the fourth starter in the rotation.
"They have their reasons," Ponson said. "I'm not going to argue. Whatever. It doesn't matter to me where I make my first start."
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Graphic: Projected Starters
Graphic: Fort Lauderdale Stadium
Ponson will make his season debut April 8 against the New York Yankees. If the Yankees don't tinker with their rotation, Ponson could face Randy Johnson. The Yankees have two off days after Johnson makes his season debut next Sunday. New York has not announced its starting rotation.
"I'm going on Friday against the Big Unit," Ponson said. "What are you going to call me? Number one against number four? You guys can write it down if you want to."
Ponson said he didn't think he was being disciplined for his off-field transgressions this offseason: an altercation with a judge in Aruba, a DUI three weeks later and an altercation in a Fort Lauderdale restaurant last week.
Next Year for Ainsworth
Pitcher Kurt Ainsworth had surgery on Tuesday to repair a partially torn labrum and rotator cuff, and a divot in his right shoulder socket. He will miss the season, and the team hopes Ainsworth will be recovered by the time spring training starts next year. Noted specialist, James Andrews, performed the surgery in Birmingham. Ainsworth was a candidate for the team's fifth spot in the rotation at the start of spring training. Ainsworth had said he would contemplate retirement if his injury was serious. But after finding out the results of the MRI exam, Ainsworth decided to try to return next season. . . .
Outfielder Larry Bigbie returned to the lineup. He had been out since March 20 because of a strained neck. He homered in the third inning.
"I feel fine," Bigbie said. "It was one of those freak things that happened."