Boomer and Torre, back together again

ATLANTA (AP) – Joe Torre always could count on Boomer in big spots.

So in

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

American League.

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

Toronto.

“I don’t think there’s a point to prove,” Wells said

Monday.

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

Joe.”

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.

Of course,

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

Turner Field.

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

needed replacements.

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

places.

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

concussion.

“I was up at 1:15 last night, trying to find a catcher,” Cox

said.

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

roster.

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

1978.

“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

usually rules.

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

20-16.

“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.”

“But

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.”

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