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Posted: Friday April 20, 2007 11:35AM; Updated: Friday April 20, 2007 5:06PM
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Suspended Braves infielder Willy Aybar is in Boston, struggling with substance abuse and trying to get his life and baseball career back in order, his agent said Thursday. The agent, Luis Valdez, said the distraught player was dealing with "drinking and drugs" and that he drove alone from Atlanta to Boston to be with his brother, Francis Aybar, who lives there. -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jose Capellan's agent, Bill Rego, said the reliever left the Class AAA Nashville club for two days without permission because he expected to be traded and was not. Capellan was put on the restricted list and docked two days pay before agreeing to rejoin the team Thursday. -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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It's hard for Wally Backman not to feel that there's something beyond his checkered past as to why no major-league team has been willing to give him his second chance yet, considering his considerable history as a successful minor-league manager. There was talk the Mets might be the ones to bring him back, but that didn't pan out. -- Newsday

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he expected Ryan Howard to be out at least two days. Howard was diagnosed with a ligament sprain below his left knee. -- Philadelphia Inquirer

Mike Mussina, out with a strained left hamstring, threw off the mound yesterday for the first time since going on the DL Sunday and had no pain. "He was really good," said manager Joe Torre, adding that Mussina will likely have another throwing session tomorrow. Mussina is eligible to return April 27. -- Newark Star-Ledger

Yankees right-hander Chien-Ming Wang allowed three runs and five hits over five innings in a rehab start for Class-A Tampa on Thursday night. It was Wang's second outing since he hurt his right hamstring while running on March 23. The 19-game winner is expected to rejoin the Yankees' rotation for his first start of the season Tuesday at Tampa Bay. -- Newsday

Many fans think Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher should have all, or at least some, of the answers for the team's slump -- it's why every time the Angels go into a lengthy offensive funk, they flood Internet message boards and radio call-in shows with pleas for Hatcher to be fired. That probably won't happen any time soon. Manager Mike Scioscia supports Hatcher, and players speak highly of him. -- Los Angeles Times

Baseball has been very good to Joe Mauer. And now, to his family, too. The Twins catcher, who turned 24 on Thursday and last winter signed a guaranteed $33 million contract, has told his parents they are free to retire and that he will provide for their financial future. Jake and Teresa plan to accept the offer. -- St. Paul Pioneer Press

The MRI on Mike Gonzalez's elbow was negative on Thursday, and the Braves' new set-up man said he thinks he might be ready to pitch after only a couple more days off. Gonzalez, who missed the last five weeks of last season with elbow tendinitis, said the MRI showed just some inflammation but no structural problems. -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Disabled Cardinals outfielder Juan Encarnacion hit a two-run home run Wednesday in his first game appearance since undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist. Last season's starting right fielder went one for three as a designated hitter in an extended spring training game in Jupiter, Fla. His home run against a Marlins minor-league squad cleared trees beyond a center-field fence. -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen became available for Thursday afternoon's game against the Giants on an emergency basis. After manager Tony La Russa gave him the option of remaining at the team hotel, Rolen instead sat at his locker, where he took some gentle abuse from teammate Scott Spiezio. Like Spiezio two weeks before, Rolen was diagnosed with food poisoning after a trip to a local emergency room. The ordeal cost Rolen his appetite and five to seven pounds. -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Dodgers pitcher Joe Beimel turned around his career by adding an inward turn to his delivery that increases the torque in his motion and makes it difficult for batters to pick up the ball. "It allows my arm to catch up to my body," Beimel said. "It adds to my deception and gives more sink to my sinker." Beimel experimented with the turn in 2005 at the suggestion of pitching coach Joe Coleman after three middling seasons with the Pirates. -- Los Angeles Times

Russ Ortiz hasn't been dominant for the Giants, but the right-hander certainly appears to be throwing better than he did during his one-plus season stint with the Diamondbacks. Ortiz has shown better velocity this year and has lost weight -- he said during spring training it was about 13 pounds. -- Arizona Republic

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