Big Papi has big plans for the Red Sox' very long flight to Japan eat, sleep, and win all of Jonathan Papelbon's money playing cards.
"He's a good player, but he's got bad luck," David Ortiz says. "So he better bring his whole bank account on the airplane. We always kill him. He's loud when he's winning, then boom, he's quiet."
Fortunately for Pap and maybe for Papi Boston's star closer was rewarded with a $775,000 contract this month, nearly doubling last year's salary of $425,000.
It's players like Papelbon and Ortiz and pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima who will attract big crowds to the Tokyo Dome to see the World Series champions during a four-game trip that begins when they leave Fort Myers on Wednesday.
HANK STEINBRENNER HAPPY WITH GIRARDI: At Tampa, Fla., Hank Steinbrenner expected new manager Joe Girardi would run an excellent spring training camp. The New York Yankees' general partner has not been disappointed.
"I think the players have the 'Eye of the Tiger' back," Steinbrenner said. "It's gone great. Everybody's fit. Everybody came here ready to go."
Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi said Girardi's intensity has had an impact.
"I think camp has gone great," Giambi said. "We're playing good aggressive baseball."
JUAN GONZALEZ UNDERGOES MRI: The St. Louis Cardinals were awaiting results of an MRI on Juan Gonzalez's strained abdomen on Saturday.
The test was done on Friday and was being evaluated by a specialist, team spokesman Brian Bartow said.
The 38-year-old Gonzalez, trying to make a comeback after having just one at-bat in the last three years, missed his fifth straight game and did not make the trip Saturday for a game against the Mets. He had been listed as day-to-day two days earlier. Manager Tony La Russa said there had been no improvement.
Angels ace John Lackey out: The Los Angeles Angels will start the season without ace John Lackey, who is out three to four weeks because of a strained right triceps.
Lackey underwent an MRI in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Friday that confirmed Dr. Lewis Yocum's diagnosis.
The right-hander has already started rehabilitation and will not participate in any baseball activities until he is re-evaluated, the team said Saturday.
KAZMIR WON'T START ON OPENING DAY: Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Scott Kazmir won't start on opening day after having his first scheduled spring training start Sunday pushed back a few days.
Kazmir has been slowed by a left elbow strain, which he felt while warming up for an intrasquad game on Feb. 26.
"It will definitely knock out the opening day assignment," Rays manager Joe Maddon said before Saturday's game against the New York Yankees. "We just want him to try and build up a little bit more arm strength before we put him back out there. He's fine. There's not a thing wrong with him. During the season he probably would have pitched today."
CABRERA LIKELY TO APPEAL SUSPENSION: Yankees center fielder Melky Cabrera said he most likely will appeal a three-game suspension for his role in the spring-training fight between New York and the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays contend Cabrera punched third baseman Evan Longoria during Wednesday's pileup.
"I didn't hit nobody," Cabrera said Saturday, speaking through a translator. "I don't know what it's coming from. I just come to play baseball."
Yankees first baseman Shelley Duncan, also suspended three games, said he has not decided if he will appeal.