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Notes: Hall eager to get 756 ball

Notes: Hall of Fame eager to get 756 ball

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jeff Idelson, vice president of communication and education for baseball's Hall of Fame and Museum, expressed confidence that the shrine eventually will receive the ball Barry Bonds hit for his record-setting 756th home run, perhaps by Opening Day.

"It's a poignant piece historically, whether it comes in March or next year," Idelson said Wednesday during a visit to Scottsdale Stadium. "It's a piece that over time maintains its historical value."

Idelson has discussed acquiring the ball from Marc Ecko, the hip-hop clothing mogul who purchased it at auction last September for $752,467. When Ecko relinquishes the ball to Cooperstown, Idelson said that it will be displayed with the asterisk that was affixed to it. The red mark reflects the wishes of respondents to an Internet poll who wanted some acknowledgement of Bonds' alleged steroid use.

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Idelson said that the text accompanying the ball will fully explain the facts and context of what happened to put the asterisk on it. Idelson added that the Hall would welcome Bonds' input on how the text is worded.

"The asterisk doesn't implicate Barry," Idelson said. "It's purely a part of the story of how it ended up in Cooperstown. You let the visitor determine how they feel and make their own value judgment. We would never suggest how they value or judge things."

Several Bonds-related items already are on display in Cooperstown until Opening Day: the batting helmets he wore when he hit his 755th and 756th homers; plate umpire John Hirschbeck's ball/strike indicator from the Aug. 7 game in which Bonds broke Hank Aaron's home run record; balls signed by the Giants' starting lineup, the opposing Washington Nationals' lineup and the umpiring crew from that game; the cap worn by Mike Bacsik, the pitcher who allowed No. 756; and Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper's scorecard from that night.

Zito sharper: Barry Zito worked three innings and allowed one run, Ryan Shealy's slicing opposite-field homer leading off the third inning, as the Giants lost, 3-1, to the Kansas City Royals.

Zito's outing was substantially better than his previous one last Saturday, when he yielded eight runs in two-thirds of an inning to Oakland. He threw 44 pitches that afternoon, yet needed only 39 to complete Wednesday's appearance.

Zito said that although the results differed vastly from game to game, he felt roughly the same both times. The difference, he said, rested in his success at going after hitters -- a familiar Zito lament.

"It's a daily battle to be on top of your stuff," he said. "I think if there was any mechanism to make it automatic, it wouldn't be fun to watch, because you'd know how people would do every time."

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Injury update: Left-hander Noah Lowry underwent a magnetic resonance imaging examination on his tendinitis-stricken wrist Wednesday morning in the Bay Area and was expected to undergo further tests in the afternoon. Lowry's due back in camp Thursday, when the results of the tests should be known.

Shortstop Omar Vizquel (left knee surgery) is off crutches and is progressing as planned, according to the Giants' medical staff.

Bye-bye, Brett: Ardent Green Bay Packers fan Jack Taschner, a Wisconsin native, mourned Brett Favre's retirement but expressed optimism over Aaron Rodgers, the team's likely successor at quarterback.

Taschner, the Giants left-hander who attends a handful of Packers games each season, will turn 30 on April 21 -- meaning that Favre, who quarterbacked Green Bay for 17 years, was a presence for more than half his life. "I remember the '80s and how bad the Packers were," Taschner said. "When Favre came in and took over for [Don] Majkowski, everything just started snapping into place. Lambeau Field's always been sold out, win or lose, but when you can invigorate a crowd that's been stale for 20 years ..."

Echoing the feelings of many football fans, Taschner said that he appreciated Favre's sincerity. He wasn't afraid, said Taschner, "to wear emotions on [his] sleeve and take responsibility for [his] actions and cry about things and get excited about things. He was endearing to anybody who ever watched him. You can go to a Bears fan, a Vikings fan, a 49ers fan -- everyone can say 'I hate the Packers, but I love Brett Favre.' That's because he's a real human being."

But, Taschner said, "I'm looking forward to seeing what Aaron Rodgers can do. I think he's going to do fine. Of course, everybody's going to compare him to Brett, and you can't do that."

Roster moves: The Giants trimmed their spring roster to 46 by releasing right-hander Scott Williamson, optioning right-hander Randy Messenger to Triple-A Fresno and reassigning first baseman Brett Harper and infielder Scott McClain to Minor League camp.

Having decided that Williamson (13.50 ERA) wouldn't make the Opening Day roster, manager Bruce Bochy explained that the Giants cast him free this early to increase his chances of joining another club.

"I know there was interest in Willie besides us," Bochy said. Messenger, acquired from Florida for Armando Benitez last May 31, allowed a pair of runs in each of his one-inning Cactus League outings.

Up next: The Giants travel to nearby Tempe on Thursday to face the Los Angeles Angels. Matt Cain, who pitched three scoreless innings last Sunday against the Cubs, will oppose Angels right-hander Jered Weaver.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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