Injuries Plague Baseball All-Stars

Tuesday, July 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) — Forgive Bobby Cox and Joe Torre for feeling a little bit like Abbott and Costello. These All-Star injuries have turned the lineup card into a comedy routine.

Who's on first? There's no more Big Mac, so it must be the Big Cat.

What's on second? It's still Roberto Alomar — for now.

Don't know about third base? Couldn't Cal make it? Better try Travis Fryman.

``This lineup has's changed many times,'' Cox said Monday. ``I had a lineup really etched in stone about 10 days ago. Then our guys started dropping.''

With a record eight players selected for the team — Mike Piazza, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Ken Griffey Jr., Greg Maddux, Cal Ripken, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez — missing the game, there will be more players in the training room than on the field this week.

That will surely disappoint fans who paid between $100-$150 a ticket — and some players as well.

``It's too bad because these are the guys I enjoy watching, too,'' said Baltimore shortstop Mike Bordick, added to the team when Ripken opted out with a back injury.

It got so bad that Cox put out a cross-country alert for a third-string All-Star catcher to take Piazza's place on the roster. He finally found the Cubs' Joe Girardi after his first two choices couldn't make it. Javy Lopez went home to Puerto Rico and Todd Hundley is tending to a sick family member and turned down an offer.

``It has put a bit of a damper on the game, but it will give some up and coming players a chance to show what they can do,'' Los Angeles outfielder Gary Sheffield said. ``A lot of people will get to see what these guys can do for the first time.''

Sheffield is especially excited to watch Montreal slugger Vladimir Guerrero, starting in left instead of the fans' choice, Bonds.

The six other fill-in starters are also in the All-Star lineup for the first time in their careers: Jim Edmonds, Andres Galarraga, Jason Kendall, Derek Jeter, Carl Everett and Travis Fryman.

``The guys who are replacing everybody are still All-Stars,'' Griffey said. ``When you look at their numbers, they've done as well as everybody else.''

The comeback stories of Galarraga and Kendall are particularly touching. Galarraga missed all of 1999 battling cancer, while Kendall's right ankle was nearly torn off in a frightful accident about a week before last year's game.

Galarraga is replacing McGwire, perhaps the most disappointing no-show for fans who were eagerly awaiting Big Mac's Home Run Derby power display.

Kendall will start in place of Piazza, who sustained a slight concussion after being hit in the helmet by a pitch from Roger Clemens on Saturday.

``It will be cool to hear my name announced with all the other great players in the lineup,'' Kendall said. ``It will be a chilling moment. I just wish it were on different terms.''

In all, the injured players have accounted for 66 All-Star appearances, led by Ripken's 17, putting a new face on this year's game. There are 11 first-time starters — the most since 1993 — and pregame introductions will be a must-see for casual fans.

``I guess the only upside to that is there are so many more deserving players that the roster allows you to have,'' Torre said. ``Now you're able to honor more. It's a big thrill to see the faces of these guys when they come into that clubhouse.''

It will be particularly odd for Fryman, who has made four All-Star appearances before this year, backing up Ripken each time.

As a shortstop with Detroit from 1992-94, Fryman played behind Ripken. When he switched to third base in 1996, Ripken was there too, ahead of him once again on the All-Star depth chart.

With Ripken home this week, Fryman gets his first start.

``It's not an All-Star game if I'm not playing behind Cal,'' Fryman said. ``I've always been his caddie. The highlight for me is always taking grounders with Cal and having a locker next to him. It will be a different experience.''