Adrian Gonzalez, who is again putting up big numbers in San Diego's Petco Park -- a difficult home for sluggers -- is making his first All-Star Game appearance on Tuesday. The first baseman is near the NL lead in home runs (22) and RBIs (71).
07/14/2008 4:30 PM ET
Gonzalez bucking ballpark trends
Padres slugger to make first All-Star appearance
"Hitting in this division? Playing 81 games here? To put up the type of numbers he's put up? Wow!" Kevin Towers, the Padres' general manager, told The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Wagner wants to leave All-Star Game a winner: Billy Wagner wants to finally win an All-Star Game.
"You don't really care what inning [you play]," Wagner told Newsday. "I've never been there when we've won, so it doesn't even matter. You don't know the guys well enough to say 'I'm going to do this' or 'I'm going to do that.' I've given up home runs to guys I don't even know. They know you by reputation."
McLouth carries hot bat into All-Star Game: Nate McLouth is headed to the All-Star Game out of a scorching batting stretch. With 11 hits in his last 36 at-bats, McLouth has hit four home runs, five doubles and driven in 12.
"It's going to be outstanding," McLouth told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of playing in the All-Star Game. "My dream when I was little was to play in the big leagues. There was never a thought of playing in the All-Star Game. So, it's above and beyond what I ever could have expected. It's going to be a real thrill."
Lee to be living a dream: Whether or not Cliff Lee was named the All-Star Game starter didn't matter very much to him. He was happy to have an exceptional first half -- 12-2 record and a 2.31 ERA -- and get selected for the showcase.
"Just to make the All-Star Game is an honor," Lee told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "It's an honor just to play in the big leagues. When I was a boy, I'd watch games and dream of it. I'd watch the All-Star Game and have the same dream. It's going to be special to be at it."
Longoria gets the call for Home Run Derby: Evan Longoria's rookie season just keeps getting better. The Tampa Bay third baseman will compete in the Home Run Derby on Monday night ahead of Tuesday's All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. Longoria is excited to compete in the Derby.
"They just called me, and I guess they needed another guy apparently, but they wanted me to do it because of the amount of fan votes that I got," Longoria told the St. Petersburg Times. "I guess I'm pretty popular with the fans, so they wanted me to get in there and show what I can do."
Joyce certainly finding pitches to drive: It's been some week for Matt Joyce, the Tigers' rookie outfielder who hit four home runs in his last five games heading into the All-Star break. What about his approach has changed?
"I'm speechless," Joyce, speaking of his recent surge, told the Detroit News. "I really don't know if it's anything special I'm doing or what. I'm not trying to put on any added pressure, I'm not trying to hit home runs, I'm just trying to go up there and get a pitch I can drive."
Volstad wows 'em in starting debut: On Friday night at Dodger Stadium, Chris Volstad came within an out of ending the Marlins pitchers' hex being unable to complete a game. Volstad took a shutout into the ninth inning but came out after allowing a run. He ended with a 3-1 win in his first Major League start to run his record to 2-0.
"One out away from a complete-game shutout, he has room for improvement I guess," catcher Paul Hoover told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "The kid is special. He obviously showed that tonight."
Ohman giving bullpen a boost: The Braves acquired Will Ohman from the Cubs in the offseason, and the change did him good. After posting a 4.95 ERA in 2007, Ohman has shaved over two runs per game off that mark at the All-Star break. Ohman is 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA in 49 appearances. Opponents are batting .204 against him.
"As far as my job is concerned, I have to go out there and get three outs before the opponent scores a run. So we'll keep it simple like that and just try to move forward," Ohman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Garciaparra makes rare leadoff appearance: Dodgers manager Joe Torre moved Nomar Garciaparra into the leadoff spot on Saturday. It was the first time since the 2002 season that Garciaparra had led off a game.
"He's aggressive and he's not your prototypical leadoff hitter because he doesn't go up there thinking about walking, that's for sure," Torre told the Los Angeles Daily News. "He does put that little extra pressure on the pitcher knowing that if he goes ahead and throws a strike he can hit it out of the ballpark."
Fastball is the answer for Rodriguez: Francisco Rodriguez knew the perfect way to offset a bases-loaded predicament that he gotten himself into during the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday against the A's. It's called the fastball. He wiggled out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts on fastballs to secure his 38th save, tops in the Major Leagues.
"That definitely was real intense," Rodriguez told the Los Angeles Times. "After I walked the guy, I thought, if I'm going to get beat, I'm going to get beat with my best stuff."
Hulett stands tall as DH in Major League debut: The Mariners called up Tug Hulett from Triple-A, and the infielder made his Major League debut on Saturday. The big surprise came when his name was written into the lineup at designated hitter. Hulett went 1-for-3 in his debut.
"I'm not really your prototype DH," Hulett, who stands 5-foot-8 and played mostly shortstop and second base for Triple-A Tacoma, told the Seattle Times. "I know that's what everybody's saying. 'A 5-8 DH? Let's see that.'"
New stadium nothing new for Ausmus: When Brad Ausmus faced the Washington Nationals in Nationals Park Friday night, it was the 44th Major League stadium in which Ausmus has played. The Astros veteran trails only Chris Gomez (47), Gary Sheffield (47) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (45) among active players who have played in more stadiums.
"I think part of it is that in the time that I'm playing it's the era of the new baseball stadium," Ausmus told the Houston Chronicle. "When I was growing up in Connecticut, there was only one baseball stadium, and that was Fenway Park, in my mind.
"I've been very fortunate to be able to see dozens of stadiums throughout the country, not only the new ones, which in the last decade were all built very uniquely. But in my mind more special are the Wrigley Fields, the Yankee Stadiums, Tiger Stadiums. To be able to play on the same fields that names like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams stepped foot on -- that to me is very special."
Branyan, Hall make hot corner productive: Since recalling Russell Branyan from the Minors and starting a platoon at third base between Branyan and Bill Hall, the Brewers have received outstanding contributions from both players. Branyan is hitting .289 against right-handers since joining the team May 24, while Hall is hitting .371 against left-handers. The duo has combined to hit 22 home runs, the most from third base in the Majors.
"You sit for three or four days, and then you get one lefty and those four at-bats seem like they're over fast," Hall told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Then you could not see another lefty for another week, so that's what's tough about it."
Ortiz sets July 25 as return date: David Ortiz is aiming to return to the Red Sox lineup in less than two weeks -- in time to face the New York Yankees on July 25 at Fenway Park, the Boston Globe reported. Ortiz has been on the disabled list since May 31 due to a partial tear of the sheath that surrounds the tendon in his left wrist.
"I feel good," Ortiz said. "Actually, it was my first time hitting off the machine. I was acting like I normally do, locating, check swing, swing and a miss. Stuff like that. Everything was fine. That's all I need. Make sure there's no pain when I'm doing that."
Roberts gets rave review from manager: For Brian Roberts, the next few days are a chance to recharge his batteries. Orioles manager Dave Trembley says that Roberts -- who has 33 doubles, eight triples and 27 stolen bases -- doesn't need to be in the All-Star Game for his status to be quite clear.
"He's not going to New York as an all-star, but he's an all-star player for us and he's an all-star player for me," Trembley told The Washington Post. "What he does for the club and what he does to make the team go speaks for itself."
Utley could set benchmark at second: Dallas Green has seen his fair share of great infielders in his time, but the more he sees Chase Utley play, the more Green -- who works in the front office for the Phillies -- thinks he may be the best he's ever seen.
"He's on his way to being one of the best that ever played, in my opinion," Green told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "That's ever. Joe Morgan was an offensive guy. Chase is going to be an offensive guy, but I think he brings a little bit more to the table. He fits right in with [Ryne] Sandberg to a degree. He's not as defensively sound as Sandberg or [Manny] Trillo or those kind of guys that I've seen, but he's made himself a very, very good second baseman."
-- Red Line Editorial