Tag:2011 All-Star Game
Posted on: July 13, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 2:34 pm
 

All-Star dugout: Cuddyer takes first, Young third

PHOENIX -- Funny story from the dugout of the American League during Tuesday night's All-Star Game, passed along by Twins beat man extraordinaire and Minnesota cult hero LaVelle E. Neal III:

Midgame, Detroit's Miguel Cabrera started feeling soreness in his right oblique. So AL manager Ron Washington approached Minnesota's Michael Cuddyer and, looking to sub him into the game and knowing he was going to have to remove Cabrera, asked Cuddyer if he'd rather play first base or third.

First, Cuddyer said. No question.

See, Cuddyer hates third. It's about the only position he hasn't played with the Twins.

Not long after, with Washington also looking to get Texas' Michael Young into the game, word circulated that Young would prefer to play first over third because, then, he would have played every infield position in an All-Star Game.

Sorry, Cuddyer said, smiling and slapping Young on the back. I got first.

And that's the way the ballad of the two Michaels played out, Young to third, Cuddyer to first. And both survived (though the AL didn't, losing 5-1).

Likes:
What a bombshell late Tuesday night, Milwaukee striking to acquire closer Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez. It was great fun to learn of the deal in the NL clubhouse pretty much at the same time Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks learned of it and see their reactions. ... Still great to see everybody, all these baseball people -- players, managers, coaches, writers who are friends -- in one place midsummer. ... Looking forward to seeing Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame inductions next weekend -- Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, Pat Gillick.

Dislikes: Too many All-Stars at 84, too many starting pitchers not playing for the American League (Josh Beckett, Justin Verlander, David Price, James Shields, etc.) and too many substitutions. The game needs revamping. Again.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Summer
"It turns me upside down
"Summer, summer, summer
"It's like a merry-go-round"

-- The Cars, Magic

Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:33 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 8:16 pm
 

Pitching plans for tonight's All-Star Game

PHOENIX -- Talked to both All-Star pitching coaches during batting practice, Mike Maddux of the Rangers and Dave Righetti of the Giants, and here's the tentative pitching plans for tonight's All-Star Game:

AL starter Jered Weaver is only expected to go one inning. Angels manager Mike Scioscia talked to Rangers and AL skipper Ron Washington and requested Weaver go no more than one inning or 25 pitches because he's due to start Saturday during the Angels' doubleheader in Oakland.

Boston's Josh Beckett is expected to follow Weaver to the mound, according to Maddux. After that, look for either Michael Pineda of the Mariners or Texas' C.J. Wilson. The way things were set up going into the game, Washington and Maddux were planning to use Pineda as the third pitcher in.

After that it's less planned, though Angels rookie closer Jordan Walden has been told there is a good chance he'll pitch in the fifth inning. While that's not guaranteed, Maddux said he did speak with some of the closers because, obviously, not everybody can pitch the ninth.

"Guys used to pitching the ninth inning, we gave everybody a heads up because if we need them early, normally, they wouldn't have even gone to the training table yet," Maddux quipped.

As for overall pitching plans, Maddux had another good line: "The only sure thing is, if Weaver carries a no-hitter into the second inning, he's not gonna get it."

As for the NL, starter Roy Halladay likely will pitch two innings unless he goes through a long first inning. Phillies teammate Cliff Lee will follow him to the mound. Then, Righetti said, it will be either the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw or Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens -- probably Kershaw.

 

Posted on: July 11, 2011 10:02 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:11 pm
 

Greedy Braves want Hanson here, too

PHOENIX -- While the Braves were thrilled to have reliever Craig Kimbrel added to the NL All-Star team late Sunday, joining bullpen mate Jonny Venters and starter Jair Jurrjens, they remain a greedy little team.

See, catcher Brian McCann, the MVP of last year's All-Star game, is bummed starter Tommy Hanson wasn't named, too.

A case can be made easily, too: Hanson steps into the break ranked third in the NL in ERA (2.44), first in opponents' batting average against (.190), eighth in strikeouts (109) and tied for third in wins (10).

"We've got to find a way to get them both here," McCann said Monday, speaking of Kimbrel and Hanson. "The fact that Tommy Hanson was not put in is kind of rough. He's [toward] the top of every pitching category.

"He deserves to be out here."

Posted on: July 11, 2011 9:36 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:11 pm
 

I found someone happy Jeter's not here!

PHOENIX -- Weary of all this talk about how the Yankees' Derek Jeter should be in attendance at this All-Star Game, I went looking for someone who agrees that he shouldn't be anywhere near this event.

I found the guy.

And truth be told, it wasn't all that difficult, either.

Meet David Price. Yeah, THAT David Price.

Guy who served up the homer that was Jeter's 3,000th hit in New York on Saturday.

In fact, Price surrendered Jeter's first three hits on Saturday -- single, homer, double -- and yet appeared startled when I told him I had him figured for the one guy who is glad Jeter is nowhere near Phoenix.

"I'm not mad about it," Price said, smiling. "I love it.

"When he first hit it Saturday, I was mad when it went over the fence. Then I was like, 'It's Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit, get over it.

"I understand people want to see him. But he's trying to get his body ready for the second half. He's been on an emotional roller coaster these past couple of weeks. He's the ultimate team guy and he's trying to get ready to help the Yankees in the second half."

OK, enough with the respect.

Now, David, the truth ... you saw enough of him on Saturday, right? You're sick and tired of him, right?

"I might be," Price said, eyes twinkling. "I wouldn't mind seeing Derek Jeter one bit -- but I'd ask him what he's going to give me [for surrendering his 3,000th hit].

"Aw, I'm just kidding."

Likes: Really fun talking with the three Pittsburgh All-Stars and seeing their excitement -- outfielder Andrew McCutchen, closer Joel Hanrahan and starter Kevin Correia. ... Ditto first-time All-Star Michael Cuddyer of the Twins. ... Padres closer Heath Bell having his father, wife and kids in tow at the press conferences Monday so he could share the All-Star excitement. Very, very cool. ... Glad to see Adrian Gonzalez getting his due in Boston. He was so overlooked and underrated when he was playing hidden in San Diego. And he's a class act who is intelligent and thoughtful as well as highly skilled. ... Very interesting seeing the Biltmore, the luxury resort where John McCain gave his election night concession speech after losing the last presidential election. ... Rokerij, best restaurant in Phoenix. The blackened salmon with apple chile was sensational Sunday night (as were the green chile potato, roasted beets and prickly pear margarita that came with it). ... Rubio's Fish Tacos, a San Diego staple blossoming in Phoenix. The manager of the joint we stopped by for lunch Monday was so sweet, too. She was a baseball fan and, overhearing All-Star talk at our table, she brought over four warm churros on the house.

Dislikes: The Home Run Derby. The rules are convoluted and it continues forever. And I mean, forever. Does it really need to be three hours? Of course, I'm also the guy that gets worn out quick at a movie by special effects. A little bit goes a long way, just like home runs. It's why I hated Super 8.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"We learned in Sunday school
"Who made the sun shine through
"I know who made the moonshine, too
"Back where I come from
"Blue eyes on a Saturday night
"Tan legs in the broad day light
"TV's, they were black and white
"Back where I come from"

-- Mac MacAnally, Back Where I Come From

 

Posted on: July 11, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:12 pm
 

Sunday pitcher rule needs revisiting

PHOENIX -- You know what would really throw some gusto into this All-Star Game?

If Detroit's Justin Verlander were opposing Philadelphia's Roy Halladay on the mound, that's what.

Except, as you may have heard, because of a new rule instituted last year, starting pitchers who work on Sunday are ineligible to play in the All-Star Game.

So Verlander is here, watching the game just like you. Only difference is, Verlander gets to dress in uniform and hang out in the clubhouse.

It is a well-intentioned rule, and the spirit in which it was instituted is right (and no disrespect to the Angels' Jered Weaver, who will start for the AL and is pretty darned good himself). But it needs to be revisited.

In most cases, a pitcher throws in the bullpen two days after a start.

So there is no reason why, say, Verlander, can't contribute one inning in Tuesday's game (in what effect would be akin to a post-start bullpen session).

NL (and Giants) manager Bruce Bochy disagrees.

"I think it's a good rule," Bochy says. "I was caught in this back in '99 where a couple of pitchers pitched on Sunday, and I was actually told that they would be available for an inning. Then once they got there, [I was told] they would prefer them not to pitch, so it puts the manager in a tough spot.

"I think that takes care of that. If he throws on Sunday, he can't pitch. And that way you don't come out short-handed. We need to have all 13 pitchers available."

There you have it, same as designating a closer and refusing to change: It allows a manager to cover his rear end and shut down all critics with an easy answer along the lines of, "That's the way it is, I didn't have a choice."

No question, managers are put in tough positions at the All-Star Game, especially in regard to pitching.

A manager's first responsibility is to return pitchers healthy to their respective teams. You can't blame clubs for getting jumpy about it. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly planned to ask Bochy to only use Clayton Kershaw for one inning Tuesday night because the Dodgers have slotted Kershaw to start their second-half opener Friday in Arizona.

Still. They can't contribute one inning on Tuesday?

AL (and Rangers) manager Ron Washington said "I'm all good with it."

The Sunday rule -- and other All-Star issues -- is being discussed by players and owners as they work toward reaching a new Basic Agreement (the current one expires after this season), according to sources.

It's too early to say whether there will be a change for 2012. But certainly, the trend has been to protect players more, not less.

Verlander, who beat Kansas City on Sunday, is enjoying the scene here and said Monday he understands why the rule was put into place -- and supports it.

"I think it's probably a smart rule," he said.

Yeah, but if his Tigers advance to the World Series this year ... but have to open on the road because the NL won the All-Star Game when Verlander couldn't pitch?

Wouldn't he be angry then?

"I probably would be, in that case," he said, grinning.

 

Posted on: July 11, 2011 8:25 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 9:19 pm
 

Say what? HOW many All-Stars?

PHOENIX -- How many All-Stars are there?

So many that. ...

Sounds like the beginning of a joke, right?

Well, it sort of is.

Sam Mellinger, the terrific (and underrated) columnist for the Kansas City Star, did a little math and came up with an intriguing -- and laughable -- number.

He simply used these standard parameters:

He counted all players in the game who have had enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title. Then he counted all pitchers who have thrown enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. Lastly, he counted all relievers who have thrown at least 33 innings (because that's the lightest workload of any All-Star here, that of Cleveland closer Chris Perez).

Add all of those players together, divide them into the total number of players in the bigs and...

Ladies and gentlemen, 23 percent of all major-league players are All-Stars in 2011.


Category: MLB
Posted on: July 11, 2011 7:54 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 8:11 pm
 

Padres' Bell open to set-up duties down stretch

PHOENIX -- San Diego closer Heath Bell, a man now expecting to be traded, said Monday that he would be fine working as a set-up man for a contender down the stretch this season as long as everyone understands that he will return to being a closer in 2012.

With St. Louis already believed to be hot on his trail, this revelation could spark even more interest in Texas (where Neftali Feliz is closing) and in New York (where the Yankees need help in front of Mariano Rivera).

Bell, a free agent this winter, briefly talked contract extension with the Padres this spring -- but those talks long since have been tabled.

When San Diego won 10 of 13 at one point in late June and early July, it delayed what appeared to be the inevitable. General manager Jed Hoyer certainly wasn't going to unload Bell, reliever Chad Qualls and outfielder Ryan Ludwick and lose what's left of the Padres' fan base at that point.

But a 3-7 trip to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles to close the first half has left the Padres both 12 games under .500 (40-52) and 12 games behind first-place San Francisco in the NL West.

Worse has been the manner in which the Padres have been losing. They lost 1-0 to the Dodgers on Friday night despite loading the bases with nobody out in the ninth, then they lost 1-0 to the Dodgers on Saturday despite pitching a tag-team no-hitter for 8 2/3 innings.

In fact, the Padres were swept by the Dodgers over the weekend despite holding Los Angeles to 12 hits in the three games. It was a historic weekend: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no team has held another to 12 hits while getting swept in a three-game series since 1966. Then, the White Sox won three over Washington.

"The last two or three months of the year, I'm good, I'll set up," Bell, who has 27 saves in 37 appearances, said Monday. "Because I think I showed everyone that I can close.

"But I definitely want to close next year."




Posted on: July 10, 2011 10:45 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 12:09 am
 

Harper, Machado, Trout: They're getting younger

PHOENIX -- They're making the prospects younger than ever.

Consider this: Had the Angels not promoted Mike Trout, 19, on Friday, the U.S. team in the Futures game here Sunday probably would have had one, two and three hitters aged 19 (Trout), 19 (Baltimore shortstop prospect Manny Machado) and 18 (Bryce Harper, the top overall pick in the 2010 draft by Washington).

As it was, with Trout a late scratch because of his sudden promotion from Double-A Arkansas, Machado batted second and Harper third.

Of anybody in the game, of course, Harper was the focal point. The No. 1 overall pick, a five-tool phenom, a controversial brat, the game's next great player ... Harper is many things to many people.

"I try and go out and play the game, I try to have fun," Harper said. "If it's not fun, you shouldn't be out there."

Some would say blowing a kiss at a pitcher after drilling a home run, as he did earlier this summer while playing for Class A Hagerstown, might be having a bit too much fun.

Machado, his friend since the two played together on an 18-and-under U.S. team in Venezuela two winters ago, says that's "the only thing I give him [grief] about, for blowing that kiss. It was pretty awesome."

Awesome, funny, whatever from a young player's perspective.

But Machado said he sure would never do something like that himself.

"This game is rough, and I play shortstop," Machado said. "Somebody would take me out."

On a serious note regarding Harper, Machado said, "He's a great player. He's got the tools. He was obviously producing at Hagerstown. To me, he has the tools to be up there [in the majors] right now. It depends on how he does ... he could easily be up there this year."

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo pretty much has put the kibosh on the idea that Harper could land in the bigs yet this summer. And 2012 is not guaranteed, though odds would suggest that if Harper continues to produce, it's certainly not out of the question.

The Nationals promoted Harper to Double-A Harrisburg on the Fourth of July after he hit .318 with a .423 on-base percentage, 14 homers, 46 RBIs and 19 steals in 72 games. Even though the Angels called up Trout on Friday, Harper said he isn't drawing a direct line from Trout and the Angels to his own situation.

As for whether he thinks his success may accelerate his own timetable, Harper shrugged.

"I have no clue," he said. "I'll let 'em make that decision. Mike Rizzo has done a great job with everything. I'm going to play this year like I know how to play and let them make the decision."

Machado said he and Harper still talk an average of once a week since their time together in Venezuela, when they were kids far from home talking about stuff teenagers talk about.

"Girlfriends back home, what was going on when we were in Venezuela when we were in the middle of nowhere," Machado said.

While Machado was happy to be reunited with Harper for a day, he was disappointed not to see Trout -- but very happy for Trout.

"I was excited for him -- when the GM calls, that's the best call you could ever get in your life," Machado said.

Considered the best shortstop prospect in the minor leagues, Machado, like Harper, should have one of those phone calls in his near future as well.

Likes: Fun seeing all of the baseball people gathered in one location. Very impressed with the way Orioles prospect Manny Machado carries himself. ... Hall of Famer Pat Gillick, the former general manager and current special assistant to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, intently watching batting practice and infield at the Futures Game. Even into his 70s, his mind is still incredible. Looking forward to seeing him inducted into the Hall along with Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar in a couple of weeks. ... Very cool lightening storm Sunday night in the desert. No rain, but the sky was lit up for a couple of hours. ... The sour cream enchiladas and frozen strawberry margaritas at Los Olivos Mexican restaurant in Scottsdale. ... The Tee Pee Mexican joint in Phoenix, though we haven't been there yet.

Dislikes: Man, so many scratches from the All-Star Game. Sunday's Celebrity Softball Game was "celebrity" in name only -- it was a bunch of B-listers -- but that star power still might wind up being higher than Tuesday's game. ... OK, you wonder, who was in the Celebrity Softball Game? Among others, Chord Overstreet (Glee), James Denton (Desperate Housewives), Jennie Finch (former Arizona State softball pitcher and a gold-medal winner at the 2004 Olympics), Erin Andrews (ESPN), Kate Upton (Sports Illustrated swimsuit model), Nick Jonas (of the Jonas Brothers) and Larry Fitzgerald (receiver for the Arizona Cardinals).

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I rounded first, never thought of the worst
"As I studied the shortstop's position
"Crack went my leg, like the shell of an egg
"Someone call a decent physician
"I'm no Pete Rose, I can't pretend
"Though my mind is quite flexible, these brittle bones don't bend"

-- Jimmy Buffett, Growing Older (But Not Up)



 
 
 
 
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