Hammes Ready But Figueroa Is Probably Gone

Zach Hammes seems ready to resume pitching. It will be no great shock, though, if Jonathan Figueroa has thrown his last pitch as a member of the organization.

Hammes has been on the Jacksonville disabled list since the start of the season but, in a rehab assignment in the extended camp at Dodgertown , looked ready to be activated. Figueroa, who also had been on the Suns DL, has been in the camp since the end of regular spring training, in a last-ditch effort to revive his career.

However, yesterday, he was suspended for 50 games by major league baseball for the use of an illegal substance. That may well be the move that prompts the team to release him.

The problem for Hammes was a bad back, hurt at the end of the regular spring. " It hurt a lot and they asked me if I could bend over. I couldn't even do that so I had to sit out," he related.

He threw only one inning in his rehab appearance against the Marlins and looked quite sharp. His fast ball had good velocity and life and, while he had trouble locating his slider at times, his command was generally good. He gave up one double but was untouched otherwise.

He'll now report to Jacksonville with the hope of being activated soon.

Figueroa had not looked good all spring and there was some thought of releasing him then. He was given a last chance, though, and had been in camp trying to restructure his delivery in order to get more zip on a fast ball that seldom reached into the upper 80's.

That was the way it was last season when he was only 1-7, 7.29 with Vero Beach. He did pitch well in winter ball at home in Venezuela, though, so there was some thought that he might still have some promise left. After all, he'd been a top prospect at one time before tendonitis and a subsequent shoulder operation.

Since he's not currently active, his suspension is to begin in mid-June when the short seasons start. That would, in effect, cost him almost the whole year so the inclination is probably to abandon the reclamation project altogether.

In other pitching moves, righthander Joey Norrito was promoted from the extended camp to Jacksonville to fill a roster vacancy. He was 2-2, 3.55 at Columbus last year.

At the same time, the Andrew Yount experiment came to an end. Yount is the former first-round draft pick of the Red Sox in 1995 whose career was blighted by a finger injury that required nine operations to correct. He was in camp as a free agent hoping to make a comeback and actually threw the ball fairly well. But he's 30 years old and didn't look like he could replace anybody in Las Vegas so was released.