Baseball Notable

Rightfielder

Jay Payton

is ready to make his belated debut with the Baltimore Orioles.

Payton was activated from the 15-day disabled list yesterday after being sidelined by a strained left hamstring. The injury occurred while he was running from second to third base in an exhibition game against Minnesota on March 26.

Payton, who played for the Oakland A's last season, signed a two-year contract with the Orioles in December and had an excellent spring training before the injury. He was not in the starting lineup for last night's game against Toronto.

To make room for Payton, the Orioles optioned outfielder Jon Knott to Norfolk.

Alfonso Soriano's sore hamstring is healing quickly, and the Chicago Cubs centerfielder hopes to return as soon as this weekend. Manager Lou Piniella said his leadoff hitter probably won't be ready until early next week.

Soriano, who signed a club-record eight-year, $136 million deal in the off-season, missed his fourth consecutive game yesterday after straining his left hamstring Monday against the San Diego Padres.

Florida Marlins slugger Miguel Cabrera was held out of the starting lineup because of a sore right abdominal muscle, but he and manager Fredi Gonzalez said the injury did not appear serious.

The injury-plagued Marlins placed righthander Sergio Mitre on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Wednesday because of a torn callus on his pitching hand. Mitre had hoped to make his next scheduled start tomorrow.

The Los Angeles Angels recalled infielder Kendry Morales from triple-A Salt Lake.

Morales replaces second baseman Howie Kendrick on the roster. Kendrick, who was batting .327, went on the 15-day DL Wednesday with a broken middle finger on his left hand.

The Detroit Tigers placed Jose Mesa on the 15-day disabled list with a pulled right groin muscle.

The former Phillies closer is 0-1 with a 20.25 earned run average after pitching 22/3 innings in four appearances.

Detroit recalled righthander Aquilino Lopez from its triple-A affiliate in Toledo to fill Mesa's roster spot.

The Kansas City Royals recalled lefthander Neal Musser from triple-A Omaha and designated righthander Jason Standridge for assignment.

Pitcher Anthony Swarzak, a Minnesota Twins minor-leaguer, was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a "drug of abuse" under baseball's minor-league testing program.

The 21-year-old righthander was 0-2 with an 11.12 ERA in one start and one relief appearance over 52/3 innings this season for New Britain in the double-A Eastern League.

He is the fourth minor-leaguer suspended under the drug program this year, the second for a drug of abuse.

There were 37 suspensions under the program last year - 32 for performance-enhancing drugs and five for drugs of abuse.

- Associated Press