Baseball Notable

Torii Hunter

was so happy last fall when Kansas City's season-ending win over Detroit gave Minnesota the division title, the Twins outfielder vowed to buy a bottle of champagne for each of the Royals.

But Major League Baseball has a rule against such rewards, as Hunter learned.

Hunter had four bottles of champagne sent to Mike Sweeney's stall in the Kansas City clubhouse when the Twins were there over the weekend.

On Monday, the commissioner's office informed the team of the violation, and the unopened bottles were to be sent back to Minnesota.

The rule prohibits anyone connected with a team from offering a gift or reward to a person connected with another club for an attempt to defeat a competitor. Violators are subject to ineligibility for "not less than three years," but no punishment was anticipated.

Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 564th career home run - his first of the season - breaking a tie with Reggie Jackson for 10th place on the career list. The Cincinnati slugger had not started the previous four games because of diverticulitis, an inflammation of the colon diagnosed about six months ago.

Toronto catcher Gregg Zaun will be placed on the 15-day disabled list after injuring his right hand last night. He will be replaced on the roster by Sal Fasano.

Randy Johnson returned to Arizona and struggled in his first start. Six months after back surgery, the 43-year-old Big Unit gave up six runs in five innings against San Diego, his first start for the Diamondbacks since 2004.

Johnson struck out seven but gave up six hits, including two home runs and two doubles. He walked four - two intentionally - and hit two batters. He threw 97 pitches, 53 for strikes.

Alex Rodriguez, whose 14 homers are tied for the most ever in April, said yesterday that he had no plans to leave the New York Yankees after the season, when the third baseman can opt out of his contract.

"I want to stay in New York, no matter what," Rodriguez said before last night's game at Tampa Bay. "I love New York. It's the greatest place for me to play."

Rodriguez already has matched the record for April homers set by Albert Pujols last year.

Mark Prior had exploratory arthroscopic surgery on his injured right shoulder, and it was unclear how long the Chicago Cubs pitcher would be sidelined.

Tampa Bay third baseman Akinori Iwamura was placed on the 15-day DL with an abdominal strain.

- Associated Press