ATLANTA (AP) – Joe Torre always could count on Boomer in big spots.
an All-Star game hit by so many injuries that it’s become the “All-Scar” game,
the New York Yankees manager had no trouble picking a starting pitcher for the
He chose David Wells, naturally. The same guy who went 4-0
for the Yankees in the 1998 postseason and then was traded away for Roger
Clemens. The same character who leads the majors with 15 wins for
“I don’t think there’s a point to prove,” Wells said
His shaved head gleaming, Wells turned to Torre and added with a
playful grin peeking out from his bushy goatee, “I know what I’m capable of
doing at any time and right now, if I wanted to, I could strangle
Laughed Torre: “The only thing I could say is, if it was just to
prove a point, you’ve done that, so you can stop.”
Chances are, Torre
probably wishes he could have Wells for the rest of the season. The two-time
World Series champions are full of problems in their rotation – and that before
Roger Clemens’ beanball to Mike Piazza started such a ruckus.
with the way things have been going lately, Torre and NL manager Bobby Cox
might be happy just to have enough healthy bodies for Tuesday night’s game at
Seven elected starters, along with Atlanta pitcher Greg
Maddux, are out of action. That total does not include Boston ace Pedro
Martinez, who was not picked because he was hurt. And Cleveland second baseman
Roberto Alomar is “iffy” with a bruised arm, Torre said.
Never before in 70
All-Star games had more than five players selected for the original rosters
As a result, 11 players will start an All-Star game
for the first time.
“This lineup has changed many times,” Cox said. “I had
a lineup really set, etched in stone here about 10 days ago. Our guys stopped
dropping a little bit.”
Sidelined for the NL: Mark McGwire, Ken Griffey
Jr., Barry Bonds, Piazza and Maddux. Out for the AL: Cal Ripken, Alex Rodriguez
and Manny Ramirez.
Andres Galarraga, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Edmonds, Jason
Kendall, Travis Fryman, Derek Jeter and Carl Everett will start in their
Colorado outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds was a late reserve replacement
for the NL, though Cox was still a player short after Piazza pulled out with a
“I was up at 1:15 last night, trying to find a catcher,” Cox
Todd Hundley of the Dodgers was asked to play, but could not attend
because of an illness in his family. Javy Lopez of the Braves had already left
for Puerto Rico. The Cubs’ Joe Girardi was eventually found and added to the
Cy Young winner Randy Johnson will start for the NL, even though he
worked seven innings Sunday for Arizona. He becomes the first pitcher to start
in both leagues since Vida Blue did it for the AL in 1975 and the NL in
“I told Bobby I’d be available unless I threw 140, 150 pitches, which
wasn’t the case yesterday,” Johnson said.
The AL has won three straight
games, yet the NL leads the overall series 40-29-1. Home run champion Hank
Aaron will throw out the first ball – he homered in 1972 when the game was last
played in Atlanta.
With so much emphasis on lively balls this season, Wells
(15-2, 3.44 ERA) and Johnson (14-2, 1.80 ERA, major league-leading 198
strikeouts) will take the mound at one of the few ballparks left where pitching
Wells started the 1998 game at Coors Field while with the
Yankees. Johnson, who will likely pitch only one inning, started in 1995 and
1997 while with Seattle.
For Wells, this is a chance to play again with
former Yankees teammates Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams and
Jeter. He also gets to play under Torre, who did his best to tolerate Boomer’s
antics – on the mound, in the clubhouse and all about town.
“I’ve been on
some great teams. Best team ever in ’98,” Wells said.
At spring training in
1999, the Yankees sent Wells in a package to the Blue Jays for Clemens, a
five-time Cy Young winner. Wells is 32-12 since that deal while Clemens is
“When things happen like that, you just have to treat it as
business. You don’t hold any regrets over it,” he said. “To me, New York was a
place where I wanted to play. That’s where I wanted to end my career.”
they had a chance to get Roger Clemens. I think you’d be crazy not to because
he’s an outstanding pitcher,” he said.
These days, a lot of Yankees fans
would undo that deal in a minute. But Wells, trying to pitch Toronto past New
York in the AL East, is not gloating.
“To go out there and wish bad things
on the Yankees, that’s not going to happen,” he said. “I can’t worry about what
the Yankees are doing.”