Gagne hop­ing for a re­turn

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - Wire ser­vices JOHN RAOUX / AP

Nearly a decade since he last pitched in the big leagues, Eric Gagne is gear­ing up for the World Base­ball Clas­sic — and maybe a ma­jor come­back.

The for­mer Cy Young Award closer pitched a score­less in­ning Tues­day for Team Canada in a 7-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., con­sis­tently hit­ting 93 mph with his fast­ball.

“Ner­vous, didn’t know what to expect, and it went well,” he said. “I just didn’t want to em­bar­rass my­self.”

Gagne, 41, turned a oneshot deal into this op­por­tu­nity. Out of the ma­jors since play­ing for Mil­wau­kee in 2008, Gagne started for Ot­tawa of the in­de­pen­dent Can-Am League last year as part of a pro­mo­tion in the team’s regular-sea­son finale. Af­ter re­tir­ing his first 12 bat­ters, Gagne al­lowed one earned run, two hits and strik­ing out six in five in­nings against Que­bec.

“I know I’m ready phys­i­cally and men­tally, but go­ing out there is a dif­fer­ent story,” Gagne said. “It’s a great test right now to go against some ma­jor league guys and see where you’re at. For me it was a re­ally, re­ally suc­cess­ful day.”

Gagne re­lieved in the third in­ning against Toronto and retired Dar­win Barney and Eze­quiel Car­rera on fly­balls. Af­ter Jake El­more walked on a 3-2 change-up and Kevin Pil­lar sin­gled, Gagne ended the in­ning by get­ting a grounder from Melvin Up­ton Jr. on his 18th pitch.

“Looked like the old Gagne,” Canada first base­man Fred­die Free­man said. “Throw­ing strikes.” Na­tion­als: Reign­ing NL Cy Young award win­ner Max Scherzer threw a live bat­ting prac­tice ses­sion for the first time this spring as he re­habs a stress frac­ture in the lower knuckle of his right ring fin­ger. Scherzer threw 44 pitches dur­ing the out­ing, the ma­jor­ity of which were fast­balls.

Pi­rates: Prospect Jose Osuna hit his third home run of the spring in Tues­day’s 6-3 win over the Braves.

Phillies: Two-time Cy Young Award win­ner Roy Hal­la­day is in camp as a guest in­struc­tor in spring train­ing. Hal­la­day, 39, plans to work with pitch­ers on the men­tal side of the game along with the fun­da­men­tals and me­chan­ics of pitch­ing.

World Base­ball Clas­sic Ja­pan 11, Cuba 6: Nobuhiro Mat­suda had four hits, in­clud­ing a three-run homer, to key a five-run fifth in­ning as twotime cham­pion Ja­pan de­feated Cuba in Tokyo. Yoshit­omo Tsut­sugo added a two-run homer for Ja­pan. Is­rael 15, Taiwan 7: Ryan Lavarn­way hit a two-run homer in the third in­ning and Nate Freiman added a three­run homer in the ninth to help Is­rael rout Taiwan in Seoul. Nether­lands 5, South

Korea 0: Jurick­son Pro­far and Ran­dolph Obuder each hit two-run homers as the Nether­lands beat South Korea in Seoul. For­mer MLB starter Rick van den Hurk al­lowed three hits in four shutout in­nings for the win.

2003 Cy Young win­ner Eric Gagne pitched one in­ning Tues­day for Canada.

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