all-star notebook

Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg draws raves from all-stars

By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ANAHEIM, CALIF. -- Though Stephen Strasburg is spending the all-star break in relative peace and quiet some 100 miles south of Angel Stadium, the Washington Nationals' phenom is very much on the minds of the assembled all-stars, many of whom have watched Strasburg's starts on television in clubhouses across the league since his memorable debut a month ago.

"Incredible," New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said about Strasburg on Monday, during media availability on the eve of Tuesday night's All-Star Game. "He's really amazing. I just hope [the Nationals] allow him to grow at his own pace and mature nicely, because he's an amazing talent."

Major League Baseball revealed over the weekend that some 78,000 Strasburg jerseys were sold in the month of June, more than that of any other player. MLB also took the unprecedented step of selling his jersey at FanFest during all-star week.

That will come as no surprise to Strasburg's fellow big leaguers, who seem just as fascinated by him as the general public is.

"You look at the guys with great stuff, and he just blows everyone out of the water," said Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes, a first-time all-star. "And he has a great idea how to pitch, which is amazing for a guy his age. I'm still developing a change-up and he's got a lights-out one. It really makes everyone else look like B players."

Matt Capps, Strasburg's Nationals teammate and the organization's lone all-star, put forth the majority opinion that, for all of Strasburg's ability, he had not done enough yet to qualify for an all-star berth.

"He has the physical talent and ability, without a doubt," Capps said. "But there are a lot of deserving people, and a lot of deserving people through the years who never got here. I don't think the track record is there to say [he] should be here. But as far as the talent, I think this will be the last three-day vacation he has in a long time."

Rough start for Capps

Capps's all-star experience got off to a rough start, as his flight out of Washington on Sunday night was delayed slightly, forcing Capps and his wife Jennifer to run through Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to make their connecting flight to Orange County. By the time they arrived at their hotel, they were too tired to do anything except sleep.

"I was looking forward to hitting that pillow," Capps said, "and as I did, it seemed like it was morning."

As of early Monday afternoon, Capps said he had not been told what his role in the NL's bullpen would be, and said he didn't care if NL Manager Charlie Manuel picked him to pitch the ninth inning.

"That's up to Mr. Manuel," Capps said. "If he gives me the ball, it'll be an honor and I'll go in there and do it. If he doesn't, and we got to the bottom of the ninth, I'll be cheering my tail off."

Lee wants stability

Texas Rangers lefty Cliff Lee, who was traded over the weekend for the third time in less than a year, did not want to discuss his pending free agency after the season. But he did say he will be seeking a no-trade clause from whichever team he signs with.

"I think every player wants that: stability," Lee said. "You want to have control of your future if you can. As much as I've bounced around, that's definitely going to be something I'm after in that situation."

Beltre's status uncertain

AL Manager Joe Girardi caused some confusion Monday morning by announcing Boston Red Sox third baseman Adrián Beltre had been scratched from the American League's AL's roster due to a pulled hamstring and replaced by Texas's Michael Young -- only to be contradicted later by Beltre himself, who said he had not decided whether to withdraw.

"They announced it without telling me," Beltre said. "I think I'm going to play and be on the active roster."

An MLB official said Girardi's announcement had been made prematurely, and that Beltre would test his leg during Monday's workout before making a decision on his playing status.

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