METS: Henderson 'officially retired'

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Finally ready to trade his spikes for a stopwatch, Rickey Henderson joined the Mets before last night's game against the Cincinnati Reds. The 48-year-old Henderson, often an enigma, said his new job means he's "officially retired" as a player. The former outfielder attempted a comeback two years ago, playing in the independent Golden Baseball League while trying to attract the attention of big-league teams. Earlier this season, he said he'd like to play in the majors again. "If it was a situation where we were going to win the World Series, and I was the only player that they had left, I would put on the shoes," Henderson said with a smile. "I haven't submitted retirement papers to MLB, but I think MLB already had their papers that I was retired."

PADRES: Cutting it close again

The San Diego Padres know all about taking a division race down to the last day. They did it last year, when it took a victory in their final game to claim their second straight NL West title, even though they had the same record as the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. It could happen again this year. The Padres headed into the season's second half with a one-game lead over the Dodgers, with Arizona and Colorado lurking not far behind in baseball's tightest division. "It would be nice to be a few more up than one game, but, you know, good first half and hopefully we'll play better in the second half," said 41-year-old Greg Maddux.

D-RAYS: Clemens gets hit around

The Devil Rays, losers of 14 of their last 15 and owners of the worst record in baseball, figured to be a walk in the park for the Rocket on Friday night. It didn't work out that way for the Yankees, as the last-place Rays hit Clemens around in a 6-4 loss at Tropicana Field that dropped the Bombers back below .500 (43-44). Clemens allowed three runs in the second inning, giving Tampa Bay a lead it would never relinquish. The Rocket was charged with five runs on five hits in 5-1/3 innings, walking four while striking out two. "The second inning was obviously what killed us," Clemens said. "I've got to work my way through that and get out of there with one run. If I do that, we're in good shape and our guys don't have such a big hole."

A's: Bad start to second half

Last season the A's staged a mediocre first half but took three of four on the road against Boston coming out of the break to get the momentum rolling toward their American League West title. Things are not headed in that direction this year. In the A's first game back after the All-Star break, right-hander Chad Gaudin struggled to find the plate in a 6-2 loss. So much for those pleasant postseason memories from last fall, when the A's took both games on the road from the Twins en route to sweeping them out of the American League Divisional Series.