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Notebook: Lowell gets doctor’s OK to play

The Associated Press

MIAMI — Florida third baseman Mike Lowell, sidelined since Aug. 30 with a broken left hand, received medical clearance Friday to rejoin the lineup and said he hopes to play in the Marlins’ final regular-season game Sunday.

The news was timely for the Marlins, who are headed toward their first playoff berth since 1997. But manager Jack McKeon has said he doesn’t want to rush the return of Lowell, whose duties may be limited to pinch-hitting for at least a few games.

After seeing a doctor yesterday, the All-Star third baseman took 50 practice swings to test his hand. He hopes to take batting practice today.

WELLS COULD BE OUT OF YANKEES’ PLAYOFF ROTATION

David Wells might be bypassed in the New York Yankees’ pitching rotation for the first round of the playoffs.

Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens will start the first three games of the series against the Minnesota Twins, manager Joe Torre said.

“We’ll go through the first three games and then figure out what we’re going to do,” Torre said. “Wells, in all likelihood, will pitch the fourth game.”

Wells, who declined comment, has 14 victories, the fewest of New York’s top four starters, and his ERA of 4.25 is the highest among the foursome.

Torre’s announcement was mildly surprising because Wells — with a career playoff record of 8-2 — was widely expected to be the Game 4 choice.

AROUND THE HORN

Pedro Martinez will start for the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday in Game 1 of their playoff opener against the Oakland Athletics. … Twins third-base coach Al Newman was released from a Chicago hospital, the team announced, 16 days after he suffered a brain hemorrhage before a game. … Arizona first baseman Mark Grace, a three-time All-Star, will retire after the Diamondbacks’ season-ending game against St. Louis on Sunday. … The Tampa Bay staff set a major-league record for hit batters when Jeremi Gonzalez plunked Boston’s Nomar Garciaparra with a pitch in the third inning. It was the 95th batter hit by Tampa Bay pitching this season, one more than the record the Devil Rays established last year. … Cleveland Indians outfielder Alex Escobar will miss the final three games of the season with a stiff neck.


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