The Blue Jays were hoping to draw 30,000 when they hosted the Red Sox and Japanese sensation
on Tuesday night. A huge, Matsuzaka-inspired walk-up pushed the crowd to 42,162. Matsuzaka's popularity has extended to the Internet. Since Opening Day, about 1,300 Matsuzaka-related items have been sold on eBay. . . .
Alfonso Soriano is nursing a sore hamstring. He's expected to return to the Cubs' starting lineup early this week. Soriano, who signed an eight-year, $136 million contract in the off-season, has no homers and one RBI in his first 12 games. (The Phillies offered him more than $100 million, by the way.) Soriano says he's not feeling pressure because of the contract or from playing a new position. Manager Lou Piniella has offered to move him out of center field, but Soriano said the position is not a problem. With Soriano out, the Cubs are playing highly-touted Felix Pie in center. It's possible he could stay there when Soriano returns. Soriano could shift to left field, the position he played when he hit 46 homers and drove in 95 runs for Washington last season. . . .
The Yankees completed a three-game sweep of the Indians with another Alex Rodriguez game-winning homer Thursday. The Indians have lost 15 of their last 18 in Yankee Stadium. . . .
Rodriguez had 12 homers and 30 RBIs in his first 15 games. He had at least one extra-base hit in 14 of 15 games. . . .
The Marlins' Jorge Julio has gone from closer to middle-innings man to the disabled list in three weeks. He allowed six runs in an inning Tuesday night, raising his ERA to 19.06. The next day he was placed on the DL with a calf injury. Or was it a swollen ERA? . . .
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox says he wants to keep managing but isn't sure for how much longer. He'll be around at least through 2008 after signing a contract extension Wednesday. Cox will turn 66 in May. It is believed that general manager John Schuerholz has also received an extension through 2008. Neither man talks much about his future, but it's believed they will retire together - one of these years. . . .
Gary Sheffield got off to a slow start in Detroit, hitting .132 with one homer in his first 15 games. He struck out 13 times in his first 53 at-bats. That's a lot for Sheffield, who has reached 70 strikeouts in a season just four times. . . .