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All-Star Notebook

Francona plans to save Kazmir as last resort

David Ortiz, right, sitting out the game with an injury, and Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez have a blast at the Home Run Derby.

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David Ortiz, right, sitting out the game with an injury, and Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez have a blast at the Home Run Derby.

NEW YORK — Rays LHP Scott Kazmir might pitch in tonight's All-Star Game after all. But likely only if it's after all the other American Leaguers have pitched.

AL/Boston manager Terry Francona said he was aware the Rays preferred Kazmir, who pitched six innings on Sunday, not be used and would try to honor their request unless there were unusual circumstances.

"We agreed to try to stay away from him, but if we get into an extra-innings game …" Francona said after the AL team workout. "We're going to try to stay away."

The Rays felt they had a valid point in that Kazmir missed five weeks with an elbow injury, threw 104 pitches Sunday and is scheduled to start Saturday.

Kazmir, for what it's worth, said earlier Monday he "felt great" and considered himself "available" to pitch.

But Francona also had a point, that all of the 12 pitchers are supposed to be available in a game that determined homefield advantage for the World Series. "Out of fairness to us you almost have to be," he said.

Francona suggested they considered replacing Kazmir on the roster, but they didn't want to do it "out of fairness" to Kazmir.

"We got put into a little bit of a predicament," Francona said.

RAYS-MANIA: After having only one representative at the previous 10 All-Star Games, the Rays had a significant presence this year with three, and all 24 and under. They are the first team since the 1986 Mets to have that many that young and the fifth in the 45 years since MLB went back to one midsummer classic a year.

Rookie 3B Evan Longoria attracted the most attention, Kazmir attracted the New York media and C Dioner Navarro, accompanied by 9-year-old son Gershon, seemed to be having the best time.

"This is a lot of fun," Navarro said after batting practice. "I'm just trying to enjoy myself, talk to the guys and have a wonderful experience."

STARTING NODS: Fired up about his first trip to Yankee Stadium, Ben Sheets had it all planned out: arrive early and visit Monument Park, gaze at that famous facade, drink in the experience the way any fan would.

One big difference: The Brewers ace also will get the ball to start for the National League.

"I'm not going to let a stadium intimidate me," said Sheets, who is 10-3 with a 2.85 ERA. "At least while I'm sitting here I'm not."

Indians LHP Cliff Lee was picked to start for the AL, highlighting a remarkable resurgence after he was demoted to the minors last season.

"I'm just honored to be here, to be honest with you. To get the start for me is icing on the cake," said Lee, 12-2 with a 2.31 ERA. "I'm kind of awestruck by it."

PAPI'S POWER: Francona tried not to look when David Ortiz stepped into the batting cage for some impromptu practice before the Home Run Derby, turning his back to deal with reporters.

He missed quite a show.

The injured DH hit four straight over the short rightfield wall then stepped out of the batter's box to let somebody else have a turn. When he stepped back moments later, Ortiz sent four more out before hitting one that dropped about 3 feet short of the 408-foot sign in center.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Francona plans to save Kazmir as last resort 07/14/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 8:35pm]
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