|Leyland gives no perks to his All-Star Tigers|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 09 July 2007 13:39|
Jim Leyland just isn't one of them. The AL manager chose not to start his no-hit pitcher Justin Verlander in Tuesday night's game, giving the nod to Oakland's Dan Haren instead. And the Detroit manager listed his three All-Star starters in the sixth, seventh and eighth spots of the lineup, ahead of only the pitcher.
``I put all of the Tigers down at the bottom of the order so nobody could say that I was favoring the Tigers,'' Leyland said Monday. ``I actually wanted to hit them one, two, three, but I didn't think I could get away with it.''
The Tigers players trust their manager's instincts, even if some of them might have wanted more prominent roles. But Verlander understood Leyland's thinking to let Haren start since the game was so close to his home ballpark.
``I would have liked to have started but it's not my decision,'' said Verlander, who was 10-3 with a 3.14 ERA and a no-hitter against Milwaukee in the first half. ``The game is right here in Oakland basically. The guy has unbelievable numbers. Skip makes the right decisions.''
In the lineup, Leyland batted Magglio Ordonez sixth, followed by Ivan Rodriguez and Placido Polanco, giving the more glamorous spots to players on other teams.
``I don't care where they put me,'' Polanco said. ``When I came up to the big leagues I was hitting ninth and that was with the pitcher hitting in front of me. I was just happy to be in the big leagues and I'm just happy to be here.''
Polanco was referring to his rookie year with St. Louis in 1998, when Tony La Russa batted the pitcher eighth and Polanco ninth at times in order to try to get more runners on base for Mark McGwire.
MISSING LEGENDS: Craig Biggio got his 3,000th hit in the first half of the season. Sammy Sosa hit home run No. 600 and Frank Thomas hit his 500th.
But all three are missing this week at the All-Star game, once again raising the question if baseball should have some sort of career achievement award for this game. AL manager Jim Leyland said he thought about that but determined it was too difficult to draw a line on what players to add.
NL manager Tony La Russa said he would have liked to have Biggio on his team but it's too tough with the rosters at their current size of 32.
``So the only way to make that happen is for MLB to say, 'Look, we're going to have a distinguished career spot to add to the 32 you get because it's unfair to take somebody off for somebody who is deserving because of their lifetime achievements.'''
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter advocated expanding the roster anyway because there are deserving players who don't make the game.
MANNY BEING MANNY: One side of the room was lined with Red Sox: David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. There was one empty table though, as Manny Ramirez didn't show up for the media availability.
``I just made sure he got to San Francisco,'' Ortiz said. ``After that, I have no control.''
Ramirez usually skips the Monday media availability so this was no surprise. He also was held out of the lineup Sunday at Detroit because of a stomach ailment. The 11-time All-Star is expected to play in the game Tuesday night.
Ramirez, one of six Red Sox players bound for the Bay Area, is hitting .284 with 11 homers and 45 RBIs.
``I think he was a little surprised to be here,'' Lowell said. ``He didn't have the same numbers he usually has, but I do know he's happy to be here. Manny is hard to talk to about a lot of topics. He's a hard worker but he's in his own world.''
BAKERS AND BONDS: Barry Bonds was handed some cookies before taking batting practice.
Marjorie Johnson of Minneapolis, acting as correspondent for the Tonight Show, gave Barry the ginger snaps in the dugout. Bonds tried one of her cookies and told her he thought they were good.
Bonds then left Johnson and walked back on the field. He stood by the cage and chatted with AL manager Jim Leyland, his manager in Pittsburgh. He hugged David Ortiz and Lloyd McLendon and signed the back of Darren Baker's Giants jersey.
Baker's father, Dusty, managed Bonds for 10 years in San Francisco. Dusty Baker was asked if the pressure of the home run chase was getting to Bonds. Baker responded, ``Why should it? Life is good.''
Bonds then took six rounds of batting practice and hit seven homers, including one into the cove and two to dead center.
CANCELED VACATION: Milwaukee pitcher Ben Sheets had a nice vacation planned for this week on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala.
``When I got it I was playing terrible at the end of the first month,'' Sheets said.
His wife, however, was more encouraging.
``She's like, 'Honey, you might go. You never know.' I'm like, 'Go look at the stat page. Be honest with yourself,''' he said.
It turns out Julie Sheets was right. After going 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in April, Sheets turned things around and went 9-2 with a 3.03 ERA the rest of the second half.
The call came July 1 that he made the NL All-Star team, meaning plans had to change.
Did his wife say, ``I told you so?''
``No, but I got a bill that says I told you so,'' Sheets said. ``That's very OK.''