Some want Yankees reliever to start All-Star Game.
A movement is afoot to have Mariano Rivera be the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game, which this year will be played at Citi Field in New York.
I think it’s a pretty cool idea, akin to having Cal Ripken Jr. take a spin at shortstop in his farewell All-Star Game in Seattle in 2001. Rivera has announced this will be his final season.
Baseball writer Bill Chuck came up with the idea and points out that starting pitchers receive more attention before the game. Such a move would also put Rivera against the biggest NL stars, and ensure the biggest television audience.
It makes sense, but Rivera told the New York Post, “No way.”
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He elaborated, “I definitely appreciate all that, but I don’t think that would be right because I am not a starter. I’m a reliever. Again, I do appreciate it, but I want to be who I am. I am a reliever. I respect the thought, but that is not what I do. Maybe, I’ll get the chance to close.”
Rivera has been on 12 All-Star teams and has four saves.
Bucs buck trends
The Pirates reached the quarter pole of the season with a 24-17 record, on pace to win 95 games. That would give them their first winning season since 1992 and end their staggering streak of 20 consecutive years under .500.
But don’t pop the champagne yet, Bucco fans. The past two seasons, the Pirates have gone a combined 37-78 from Aug. 1 on. Last year, they were 16 games over .500 on Aug. 8 — and wound up with a 79-83 record.
Notes and quotes
• Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes has been having his troubles on the bases, over-sliding second base on numerous occasions, and hurting his left hand last month on an awkward slide.
So who better to work with him than Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, the career stolen-base leader.
The A’s brought in Henderson, who told the San Francisco Chronicle that the best way to prevent over-sliding is to count the steps to the bag, and use that knowledge on each attempt.
“He doesn’t realize how fast he is, and doesn’t recognize it until it’s too late,” Henderson said. “Cespedes has got to work on when to slide. Sometimes, you’re just thinking about trying to get there, but you also have to figure out how many steps it is.”
• Henderson has the distinction of being one of the few players (and definitely the best) to throw left and bat right.
Last week, Cody Ross of the Diamondbacks became the ninth player in history with those traits to record 3,000 at-bats in the majors. He’s just behind Ryan Ludwick of the Reds (3,063 at-bats). They all trail Rickey’s 10,961 ABs.
• The Cubs locked up Anthony Rizzo to a seven-year, $41 million contract after only 124 games at the major-league level.
That might turn out to be below market value, if Rizzo — considered their best left-handed power prospect since Billy Williams — — develops the way the Cubs believe he will. Rizzo, however, has some perspective after dealing with Hodgkin lymphoma in 2008 while playing in the Red Sox organization.
“I’ve had this game taken away from me,” he told reporters. “Not being able to play the game has made me appreciate it a lot more.”
• It’s time to put 20-year-old Manny Machado of the Orioles up there with the two more celebrated young stars, Bryce Harper (age 20) and Mike Trout (21).
After his first 91 games, Machado had a .294 average in 354 at-bats, with 22 doubles, 12 homers, 50 runs batted in, 52 runs and a .480 slugging percentage.
In his first 350 at-bats (89 games), Harper had .251 average, 16 doubles, 10 homers, 30 RBI, 13 stolen bases, 59 runs and a .411 slugging percentage.
Trout’s first 89 games (321 at-bats), produced a .293 average, 19 doubles, 12 homers, 45 RBI, 23 stolen bases, 62 runs and a .483 slugging percentage.
I’d say they’re all great, and that baseball’s future is in good hands.
• Machado is engaged to Yainee Alonso, the 23-year-old sister of Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso. Yonder and Machado have been friends for years.
“I think Manny is the most talented young player in baseball,” Alonso told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “He has natural talent and this huge drive to be a great player and a great person.”
• The next Japanese pitching star who might be headed to MLB is right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who is 6-0 with a 2.07 ERA for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Pacific League.