Tag:2011 All-Star Game
Posted on: July 15, 2011 8:05 pm

Manuel fine with Bochy's All-Star moves

NEW YORK -- Tim Lincecum, who was on the All-Star team but didn't pitch, starts for the Giants Friday night.

Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, both asked to pitch two innings in the All-Star Game, won't pitch for the Phillies this weekend.

And yes, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was the guy managing the National League All-Stars. But Phillies manager Charlie Manuel isn't complaining.

"They didn't get overused," Manuel said Friday. "[Bochy] earned the right to manage the team, and he can manage it any way he wants to."

Halladay, the NL starter, threw 19 pitches in his two innings. Lee followed him and threw 25 pitches in 1 2/3 innings.

Two things to note here:

First, Manuel managed the last two NL All-Star teams, and last year he used both Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Johnson for two innings. He knows that managing the All-Star team can be a thankless job.

Second, while it's true that neither Halladay nor Lee will pitch this weekend against the Mets, that's only partially All-Star related. Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee is a strong proponent of giving his starters extra rest during the season, and planned to push Halladay's next start into next week regardless of whether he pitched in the All-Star Game or not. Manuel said Lee might have started Sunday if he hadn't appeared in the All-Star Game, but that he may have been pushed into next week, too.

As it is, the real losers are the Cubs, who will see both Halladay and Lee in the series that begins Monday at Wrigley Field.

Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:50 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 8:09 pm

Justin Upton, All-Star host (but not recruiter)

PHOENIX -- Maybe it's just as well that Justin Upton didn't use the All-Star Game to recruit free agents to sign with the Diamondbacks.

It didn't exactly work for Torii Hunter.

Last year in Anaheim, the Angels put Carl Crawford's locker right next to Hunter's, and Hunter spent two days extolling the virtues of playing in Southern California to Crawford and the other All-Stars.

Crawford, of course, signed with the Red Sox.

Upton is the All-Star host this year, playing the role Hunter played last year -- minus the free-agent recruiting.

"No, I can't think that far ahead," he said with a smile before Tuesday's game.

Asked if he had told any All-Star teammates how great it is to play in Arizona, Upton said he didn't need to.

"They're seeing it," he said.
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:42 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 7:58 pm

Reyes hits, hopes to return soon

PHOENIX -- Jose Reyes should have been leading off for the National League Tuesday night.

It would have been perfect for him, a chance at a nationally televised advertisement for his pending free agency. It would have been great for baseball, maybe baseball's most exciting player in an All-Star Game that badly needs some star power.

Reyes is on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, but at least his trip to Phoenix hasn't been a waste. He took batting practice and fielded ground balls each of the last two days, and Reyes said Tuesday that he plans to test his hamstring by running hard when the Mets work out on Thursday in New York.

If all goes well, Reyes could return to the Mets' lineup on July 18, the first day he'll be eligible.

"The last three or four days, it's really been improved," Reyes said.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 12, 2011 5:38 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 7:24 pm

Realignment is on the way

PHOENIX -- More and more, it's clear that realignment will come to baseball within the next two years, almost certainly resulting in a format that would see 15 teams in each league, with some interleague play on every day of the season.

In separate Tuesday sessions with the Baseball Writers Association of America, both commissioner Bud Selig and players union head Michael Weiner expressed an openness to a 15-15 plan, with Weiner saying that players have favored it for a decade or more. The players and owners have been discussing realignment, along with schedule and playoff reform, as part of negotiations for the new basic agreement.

Both Selig and Weiner ruled out what Selig called "massive realignment," which would involve multiple teams changing leagues, or a system that basically does away with the traditional leagues.

The 15-15 plan would require at least one team (almost certainly either the Astros or Diamondbacks) to change leagues.

It seems now that realignment won't come in time for the 2012 season, although Weiner said even that isn't totally impossible. But people in the game believe that realignment for 2013 is almost a given.

How would it look? Probably a lot like the plan I detailed in a column last month.

Why will it happen? Many reasons, but fairness is at the top of the list.

"Fundamentally, it's arithmetic," Weiner said. "[The players] take the competition very seriously. They want the competition to be fair. I know why 16-14 came about, but it's like the U.S. Open, if you had a different number of players on the two sides of the draw."

Under the current format, the National League Central has six teams, while the American League West has four (and the other four divisions have five teams apiece). By moving the Astros from the NL Central to the AL West, or by moving the Diamondbacks from the NL West to the AL West and then shifting the Astros to the NL West, you would have six five-team divisions, and you'd have a schedule that makes much more sense than the one in use now.

Both Selig and Weiner indicated that the details of realignment have not yet been decided, and Selig insisted that a resolution and an announcement are not "imminent." But with both sides so open to it, it's hard to believe now that it won't happen.

What won't happen, it seems, is a move to unify the designated hitter rule. Both Selig and Weiner suggested that with limited realignment and no significant increase in interleague play (most likely, each team would play no more than 30 interleague games in a 162-game schedule), the current system of a DH in one league and not in the other would not be changed.

"It would take some type of catalytic event to deal with that issue," Selig said.

While using the DH in both leagues (or in neither league), would make more sense, there's far too much resistance to that change.

"Good luck doing that," one baseball official said.

One change that could be made: A reverse use of the DH rule in interleague games, with the DH used in National League parks, and with National League (no DH) rules used in American League parks.

Another change that is coming, without a doubt: Adding one playoff team per league, with a either a play-in game or play-in series involving the two wild-card teams. The momentum seems now to be heading towards going with the one-game play-in -- and that's a good thing.

The playoff change could well happen in 2012. Realignment may wait for 2013.

But all the momentum now is in favor of it happening.

Posted on: July 11, 2011 9:36 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:03 pm

The All-Star invite Kirk Gibson didn't decline

PHOENIX -- Years ago, Kirk Gibson was one of the guys skipping All-Star Games.

He didn't blame injuries. He just told them he didn't want to go.

So how funny is it that in this year where the focus is on all the guys who aren't going to the All-Star Game, one guy who is going -- for the first time -- is the Diamondbacks manager.

"My dad and I used to bicker about it," Gibson said Monday. "He's getting his wish. I just wish he would have been able to see it."

Gibson insists he doesn't look back with regret. But when I asked him what he'd tell one of his players who was thinking about declining an All-Star invite, Gibson said, "I might tell them a story about Kirk Gibson."

Why didn't Gibson want to play in the All-Star Game?

As he said, it's a long story. He talks about wanting to recharge for the second half. He talks about how in 1988, his first year with the Dodgers, he was away from the Midwest for the first time in his life and wanted to go home and spend the break with his family.

He talks about the injuries.

"I was pretty banged up," he said.

But the fact is that he could have gone and didn't.

"I made a decision and stuck with it," he said. "I made my decision. Now I'm here as a coach, and I know I will enjoy it.

"I'm not saying it was right [to decline]. It was a decision I made."

For more All-Star coverage from CBSSports.com, click here.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 11, 2011 9:10 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 9:21 pm

All-Stars on Jeter: 'He's Mr. Baseball'

PHOENIX -- To hear some people tell it, there are people upset with Derek Jeter for his decision to skip the All-Star Game.

Maybe so, but all I heard about Jeter on Monday was praise, respect and amazement at his 5-for-5, 3,000th-hit day Saturday.

"For him, that's fitting," Reds outfielder Jay Bruce said. "At this point, he's Mr. Baseball. I'm disappointed he's not here, but only in the fact that I'd like to be on the same field as him."

Bruce, like many All-Stars, was able to see the 3,000th hit on television. So was Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco, who was riding an exercise bike in the clubhouse.

"I was super happy for him," Polanco said. "Jeter is one of the best, if not the best, person in the game."

"It couldn't have happened to a better person," Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun agreed. "And it couldn't have happened in a better way."

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who wears No. 2 because of Jeter, agreed. Tulowitzki said his only regret is that he doesn't get to see Jeter this week.

"I feel like I got robbed twice, because he was on the disabled list when we went to New York," Tulowitzki said. "It would have been great if he was here, but at the same time he's got to do what he's got to do."

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson, a longtime Jeter admirer, said he saw the 3,000th hit.

"Who didn't watch it?" Gibson asked. "A special day. It was meant to be. The great thing is that the perception of Derek Jeter is the truth. There is nothing phony about Derek at all."

The truth is that Jeter's not here. And the truth is that he's still held in great, great respect by his fellow All-Stars.

For more All-Star coverage from CBSSports.com, click here.

Posted on: July 11, 2011 8:50 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 9:10 pm

Polanco asks, 'Where's Albert?'

PHOENIX -- Albert Pujols has 18 home runs and 50 RBI. Albert Pujols is widely acknowledged as the best hitter in baseball.

Albert Pujols isn't at the All-Star Game.

Huh? Seriously?

Pujols is having, by his standards, a subpar season. He was on the disabled list when the teams were picked. Then, when it came to naming All-Star replacements, National League manager Bruce Bochy decided he'd rather have a third catcher (Miguel Montero) than a great hitter.

So he's not here, even though people who know Pujols say he wanted to be picked.

"I'm not happy because I thought he deserved it," said Pujols friend Placido Polanco. "I wanted to be on the same team as him."

Pujols shocked almost everyone by coming back to the Cardinals less than three weeks after breaking a bone in his hand. He didn't shock Polanco.

"I saw him the day after he got hurt, and when he shook my hand, he was so strong," Polanco said. "I said, 'Are you sure it's fractured?'"

Polanco is in Phoenix, but he won't play in the All-Star Game because of a bulging disk in his lower back.

"I'm trying to avoid getting a shot on the spine," Polanco said. "I really don't want to get a shot."

For more All-Star coverage from CBSSports.com, click here.

Posted on: July 11, 2011 8:38 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 9:01 pm

Valverde promises 'something different'

PHOENIX -- So what did Jose Valverde do when he got to Arizona on Sunday night?

Well, he worked on his save celebration, of course.

Valverde dances around the mound after saves (and sometimes even after outs) with the Tigers, but after American League manager Ron Washington told him he'd be the AL closer on Tuesday night, Valverde figured he needed a new All-Star act.

"I was working on it [Sunday night] in the hotel," Valverde said. "I'm working on something different."

Valverde was in line to serve as the AL closer last year, too, but Brian McCann's three-run double off Matt Thornton cost the AL the lead. Valverde pitched the ninth inning, anyway, but with a 3-1 deficit.

This All-Star Game is bigger for Valverde, anyway, because he spent his first five seasons with the Diamondbacks.

"I put my heart into that stadium," he said.

Washington said he chose Valverde to close because he wanted a veteran at the end of the game. The other potential closers -- Cleveland's Chris Perez, Seattle's Brandon League and the Angels' Jordan Walden -- are all young.

For more All-Star coverage from CBSSports.com, click here.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com