Room for milestone stars?


SAN FRANCISCO – On the eve of the 78th All-Star Game, the respective managers were asked if room should be made on the rosters for players who have reached significant milestones during the season.

Players mentioned included Houston’s Craig Biggio, who collected his 3,000th career hit; Texas’ Sammy Sosa, who hit his 600th homer; and Toronto’s Frank Thomas, who socked home run No. 500.

American League manager Jim Leyland said he was ready to speak out on the subject when rosters were announced but decided he better keep his thoughts to himself.

“I was going to push for it but obviously I don’t have much influence,” Leyland said. “Where do you draw the line?”

National League manager Tony La Russa said he, too, was in favor of adding special-achievement players but added, “I don’t know anybody that’s on our squad who would just relinquish his spot.

“So, the only way to make that happen is for MLB to say, “Look, we’re going to have a distinguished career spot to add to the 32 you get,’ because it’s unfair to take somebody off for somebody who is deserving because of their lifetime achievements.”

San Francisco’s Barry Bonds said there was no reason to count such players against the 32-man rosters.

“There is no line drawn,” he said. “They deserve to come.”

One that got away

La Russa and St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan have been together a quarter of a century and are as close as staff members can get. But La Russa admitted that he and Duncan were at odds in 2004 over the decision to trade right-hander Dan Haren to Oakland in a deal for lefty Mark Mulder.

“It’s probably the closest we’ve ever come to having a disruptive relationship,” La Russa said, “because he was very adamant that Dan be a part of St. Louis’ future.”

Mulder won 16 games for the Cardinals in “05, helping them advance to the National League Championship Series against eventual winner Houston. He suffered a shoulder injury in the middle of last season, however, and has yet to return to the mound.

Meanwhile, Haren has developed into the ace of Oakland’s staff, earning the starting nod for the AL in the All-Star Game.

“We were all impressed with his competitiveness, his toughness, obviously his stuff,” La Russa said. “So, we had big plans for his future. But, making no apologies, we got Mark Mulder and he had a big year for us, and he’s still with us.”

Feel the love: He stopped short of replicating Sally Fields’ “You like me, you really like me” acceptance speech at the 1984 Academy Awards but Bonds insisted that he is not universally hated, as some have suggested.

“I think people like me,” said Bonds, whose march toward Hank Aaron’s home-run record has been clouded by allegations of steroid use. “I don’t think they dislike me.”

Asked about the boos he hears throughout baseball when away from home, Bonds said, “Some people are better at it. At Dodger Stadium, they’re better at it. No matter what happens in the game, it’s “Barry Sucks.’ “

Bonds was asked if he’s getting the last laugh on those who expected him to be found guilty of cheating by using performance-enhancing drugs.

“I’m not trying to have the last laugh,” he said. “This isn’t comedy. It’s not a joke. Not one bit.”

No escape act: Leyland made this promise to San Francisco baseball fans: “I will not intentionally walk Barry Bonds in the All-Star Game.”

That means Haren gets first crack at Bonds, who is batting second for the NL. Haren recalled a previous confrontation with Bonds in interleague play that did not work out as hoped.

“He got me for No. 720,” Haren said. “I remember the whole thing. It was a 3-0 pitch and I made a mistake and laid one in there and he got me. I’ll never do that again. I learned from those mistakes.”

Brewers bits: The last Brewers player to get a hit in the All-Star Game was Jeromy Burnitz, who doubled and scored a run in 1999 in Boston. . . .

Carlos Lee’s RBI groundout in 2005 was the first for the Brewers since Robin Yount drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in 1983. . . .

Brewers starting pitchers have not allowed a run in 7 1/3 innings in all-star competition. . . .

Ben Sheets is only the second Brewers pitcher to earn a third invitation. Reliever Dan Plesac represented the club from 1987-“89. . . .

In 2006, Chris Capuano became the sixth Brewers pitcher not to appear in the game. . . .

(c) 2007, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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AP-NY-07-09-07 2103EDT