Toronto Blue Jays infielder and designated hitter Shea Hillenbrand was a no-show for the American League player media availability session yesterday along with Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez. Pitcher Roger Clemens missed the National League session. Blue Jays spokesman Jay Stenhouse cited travel difficulties as the reason Hillenbrand missed the session. Pat Courtney, the vice-president of public relations for Major League Baseball, said Hillenbrand will be subject to a fine and said baseball will look into the matter. Hillenbrand could be fined as little as $5,000 (all figures U.S.) or as much as $20,000. Hillenbrand, who did take part in the Home Run Derby workout, did not check into the headquarters hotel, the Dearborn Ritz-Carlton, when he arrived.
Hillenbrand has told people he has had some problems with the Toronto media. Ramirez is also expected to be fined, but there was no indication whether disciplinary action will be taken against Clemens.
Leave it to Tony La Russa to turn the process of selecting a starting pitcher into rocket science.
One of the reasons the Cardinals' manager selected right-hander Chris Carpenter to start the game tonight, he said, was because he wanted Florida Marlins left-hander Dontrelle Willis to be able to pitch to his regular catcher, Paul Lo Duca, later in the game. Mike Piazza is the starting catcher for the NL.
Willis, incidentally, spoke in glowing terms of Jason Bay, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder and a native of Trail, B.C., who extended to eight years the streak of at least one Canadian player appearing in the All-Star Game.
"The man can run and throw, and he's mentally tough at the plate," said Willis, who has faced Bay nine times in his career, giving up one double. "He's an all-round guy who can drop a bunt on you or lay a home run on you. He reminds me of a bit of [Marlins]outfielder Miguel Cabrera, in that he can hurt you to all fields."
He's no doctor, but New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera believes the fractured tibia suffered by Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay might be a little more serious than people are letting on. "I saw it [on television]and I just believe that it's a real bad injury," Rivera said yesterday. "It's too bad. Roy should be here. He deserved it [to be starting] To me, he's one of those starting pitchers you think of as warriors. He's a great competitor, one of the best there is." NL starter Carpenter, a friend and former teammate, said he and Halladay had joked several times this year in telephone conversations that they'd face each other in the game. "Roy called me after he got hurt, and it's clear he's pretty disappointed and frustrated," Carpenter said La Russa didn't know until 2:45 p.m. last Sunday that Houston Astros third baseman Morgan Ensberg had accepted a hurried invitation to the game. Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen, who was voted in by fans despite missing much of the first half with a sprained shoulder and labrum, held out hope of playing in the game until Sunday morning. "Ten days ago, our doctors recommend that he didn't play, and we talked about it several times," La Russa said. "He came in Sunday morning and told me he didn't think he could go."
Ensberg planned a trip to Lake Tahoe, Nev., during the break, but La Russa received a message confirming his participation as he was on the field getting ready for the Astros' game against the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco on Sunday. Ensberg is one of four additions to the rosters, including shortstop Jimmy Rollins (named to replace Cesar Izturis), right-hander Billy Wagner (named to replace Pedro Martinez) and right-hander Matt Clement, who replaced Roy Halladay.
La Russa is managing his fourth All-Star Game, his first in the NL, and is trying to become the first manager in history to win games in both leagues. La Russa was 3-0 managing the AL when he was the manager of the Athletics.