Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Hampton injured his left side while taking batting practice and team doctors say he won’t be ready for the start of the regular season. Hampton, starting the seventh season of a $121 million, eight-year contract, could be out as long as two months. The 34-year-old missed all of last season with injury problems related to his reconstructed elbow … Roster moves: Pittsburgh released outfielder Jody Gerut after nearly two years of inactivity due to a knee injury. The 29-year-old had only 18 at-bats with the Pirates since July, 2005. … Washington released infielder Tony Womack and said first baseman Nick Johnson (broken right leg) and left-handers Mike O’Connor (elbow surgery) and Brandon Claussen (shoulder surgery) are expected to start the season on the disabled list. Passings: John Vukovich, the longest-serving coach in Philadelphia Phillies history and a member of their only World Series championship team, died at 59. Vukovich, who had been suffering from complications caused by an inoperable brain tumor, served short stints as manager with Philadelphia and the Chicago Cubs, and spent the last 19 years with the Phillies. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Roger Clemens hugged Joe Torre, spoke to George Steinbrenner and cheered for Andy Pettitte. More than 10,000 people turned out to watch the New York Yankees play Cincinnati on Wednesday night in Tampa, Fla. Only one of those fans, however, might actually help New York win the World Series this year, which is why it created such a stir when the 44-year-old Clemens showed up. “It’s a huge commitment because as you get older, you want to continue to be able to stay injury-free and still you have a high expectation of playing,” he said. The seven-time Cy Young winner repeated that he’d only be interested in returning to play for the Yankees, Boston Red Sox or Houston Astros. He was 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA in 19 starts for his hometown Astros last season. Injury update: Oakland center fielder Mark Kotsay had back surgery to repair a herniated disk, an operation performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Robert Watkins. He is expected to miss three months … St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Kinney, a top candidate for setup reliever role, needs elbow ligament-replacement surgery and will likely miss the entire season. … The Rocket posed for pictures, signed autographs and worked an inning on the Yankees’ telecast. He skipped answering the question that everyone is asking: Will he play again this season? “To totally be honest, I hear everybody. I understand. It’s very flattering,” he said. “There’s days where I’m excited about it, maybe I should try it, and then three days later I’m thinking that there’s no way. I don’t know that I can put my body through that again.