- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 9, 2002

MILWAUKEE Curt Schilling was named the National League's All-Star Game starting pitcher for the second straight year yesterday. This time, he assures, he'll actually start the game.

"No, I'm on three days rest now, as opposed to one," said Schilling, who was a last-minute scratch at last year's game in Seattle because he had not recovered from his previous outing. "I don't imagine that there will be any kind of issues here."

The Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher's numbers at the break (14-3, 3.08 ERA) are certainly worthy of the NL's starting job, but manager Bob Brenly's decision became a lot easier after three top pitchers pulled out of the All-Star Game on Sunday.

Atlanta Braves left-hander Tom Glavine, Diamondbacks lefty Randy Johnson and St. Louis Cardinals righty Matt Morris all decided not to participate. Glavine (11-4, 2.27) has been battling a blister on his index finger; Johnson and Morris both pulled out for personal reasons, saying they needed the three-day break before coming back for the second half of the season.

Schilling will be opposed tonight by Boston Red Sox surprising right-hander Derek Lowe, who is making his first All-Star appearance as a starting pitcher (he was a reliever in the 2000 game at Fenway Park). Lowe (12-4, 2.36) seemed the logical choice for AL manager Joe Torre, but Pedro Martinez's decision not to attend the game for personal reasons helped.

"I'm sure Derek would understand if we decided to go with Pedro because of what he's done in the past," Torre said. "I'm glad I didn't have to make that decision or that choice."

Bleary-eyed Batista

Tony Batista might have had the roughest trip to the All-Star Game among those in uniform.

The Baltimore Orioles' lone All-Star played Sunday night at Texas, flew back on the team charter and arrived at BWI Airport at 4:30a.m. yesterday. Batista went home to pick up his wife, Australia, and his children, Willie and Gina. They departed BWI again at 9:40a.m., changed planes in Pittsburgh and finally arrived in Milwaukee about 30 minutes before his scheduled appearance at the AL player news conferences.

Batista, who made the 2000 All-Star Game as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, was too pumped to worry about sleep yesterday.

"I think this one is more exciting," he said. "I feel more comfortable. I feel more like I've been doing a great job [during the regular season]."

Batista figures to sub for starting third baseman Shea Hillenbrand at some point in the game. He'd prefer to fare a little better this time than in his previous All-Star appearance.

"I got one at-bat and struck out [in 2000]," he said. "Hopefully I'll get one more at-bat [tonight] and get a base hit. So then I'll be hitting .500."

Exposed

The Montreal Expos rarely garner much attention at the All-Star Game, but they've quickly become the talk of the town in Milwaukee.

Prime candidates for contraction last winter, the Expos have surprised everyone by finishing the first half in second place in the NL East. Montreal had two players voted into the NL starting lineup second baseman Jose Vidro and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero for the first time since 1981.

And they just acquired an All-Star pitcher in Bartolo Colon last week, providing even more reason for excitement north of the border.

"We were sitting in the clubhouse during a rain delay [last week], and the rumors starting running around," Vidro said. "Everyone was like, 'Wow!' This cannot be true, because for all this time we've been trading people away, not trading for them. For us to be able to do it, it tells everybody that we're going to be good."

With the Expos also nearing a deal for Marlins outfielder Cliff Floyd and pitcher Ryan Dempster, the club may be sending a message that it intends to stay competitive beyond this year perhaps in Washington.

"If this team stays together," Guerrero said, "we're going to have a great run."

Sosa's wife doing fine

Sammy Sosa's wife, Sonia, had surgery yesterday to repair a deep cut in her right hand. Sosa, who missed the Cubs' weekend series in Atlanta to be with his wife, came to Milwaukee for the All-Star Game's Home Run Derby after the surgery.

"She's doing great," he said. "Thank God everything went perfect. She got surgery already and she's home."

Sosa said Sonia was walking with a glass in her hand when she fell. She had a deep gash near her right thumb.

"They got a couple of stitches that day and then today they had surgery," he said. "So everything is perfect."

Yount in wrong dugout?

Robin Yount spent his entire career with the Milwaukee Brewers, who now play in the National League, and coaches for the NL champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

So it will be a little strange for Yount to be sitting in the AL dugout tonight as an honorary captain for Joe Torre and looking at Bob Brenly and the Diamondbacks players across the field.

"It's an honor to be here, although it's a bit unusual circumstances with our guys over on that side and I'm over here with Joe."

Ripken makes appearance

Retired Orioles star Cal Ripken made a brief on-field appearance during the Home Run Derby last night and received a standing ovation from the Miller Park crowd.

Striking back

Baseball fans are using the power of the Internet to call for a strike of their own.

Thousands of fans have visited at least four Web sites calling for a nationwide boycott of major league baseball on Thursday to protest a possible work stoppage.

"We're trying to get their attention and let them know there is a third party that they may not be aware of," said Don Wadewitz, who designed the Web site calling for the boycott.

There will be a second fan strike Aug. 1 if no contract has been signed by then. The group is calling for a boycott of one game for each one canceled by a possible work stoppage.

If the postseason is wiped out again, "It's strike three and we're out," Wadewitz said.

Extra bases

There are 29 first-time All-Stars this year, one shy of the record 30 that participated in 1998.

With Morris' decision to skip the game, the Cardinals are the only team without an active representative.

The AL brings a five-game winning streak into tonight's game.

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