Five questions:

1. Can the Home Run Derby ruin a player's swing?

This is a subject of much debate for it seems every year a handful of players who participate in the derby wind up in horrible slumps as soon as the second half starts. This year seems to be no exception. Bobby Abreu, the Phillies outfielder who rewrote the Home Run Derby record book in winning the event has tumbled mightily in the days after the event.

Over his past seven games he is hitting .136 with 0 home runs, 2 RBI and five strikeouts. Milwaukee's Carlos Lee is hitting .160 with one home run and one RBI and five strikeouts. Jason Bay, the Pittsburgh outfielder who didn't hit any home runs in the Derby, is slumping at .185 with one home run and 2 RBI. So is Texas's Mark Teixeira, at .143 with 0 home runs and nine strikeouts in the past seven games.

Atlanta's Andruw Jones has been hitting well at .292 as has Detroit catcher Pudge Rodriguez, the home run contest runner-up, who has torn into the second half at .370 with two home runs.

But for the others, it is clear they might have been better off skipping the contest altogether.

2. What will the Rangers do if Kenny Rogers' 20-game suspension is upheld?

This could last for some time. Rogers's appeal of the suspension is scheduled for today, but unless it is slashed significantly the Player's Association is certain to sue because normal procedures were ignored in suspending the pitcher.

For instance, Commissioner Bud Selig did not let the usual arbiter of discipline, Bob Watson, determine the punishment after Rogers knocked the camera out of a television cameraman's hands. The union is also angry that Selig is the one hearing the appeal, rather than an independent arbitrator.

If all appeals fail, the Rangers aren't left with much. There is pitcher Juan Dominguez, who went home to the Dominican Republic rather than go to the minors in an attempt to get him innings before joining the big league rotation. There's also Edison Volquez, who is in Class AA and is injured. The third choice is retread R.A. Dickey, who is in the minors trying to learn a knuckleball.

3. Is Troy Percival's career over?

Very likely. The former Angels closer is now 35 and will have to undergo arm surgery that could keep him out a full calendar year. He injured his arm in May and decided not to have an operation on it because he had made the decision that this season and next season would be his last in baseball. He has said he wants to spend more time with his children, the Tigers reliever could change his mind about the retirement, but there are no guarantees the surgery will help either. If it doesn't, his last pitch in the majors will be Tampa Bay's Jonny Gomes' game-ending home run last weekend.

Before this season, he had seven consecutive 30-save seasons with the Angels.

4. Is there any chance the Reds will trade Ken Griffey Jr.?

His name keeps coming up in trade rumors and the Reds have apparently floated his name in trade conversations. But the other day, when the Dayton Daily News polled 16 scouts at a Reds-Cubs series, none said their team had asked them to look at Griffey. Nor had they heard anything about his possibly being traded.

Griffey can reject any trade and has seemed ready to do so. Cincinnati, after all, is his hometown.

"I've heard the New York Yankees aren't even interested and they need a center fielder and they are the only team that could take on the $7 million he would cost," one scout told the Dayton paper.

5. How does Greg Maddux nearly have 3,000 strikeouts?

He was never known much for strikeouts. Maddux's game has always been to give the hitters something in every at-bat, a single to right field, perhaps, and see if they would take it. Since his pitches looked so hittable, few usually did. Instead, they swung for the fences, playing right into his hands.

This has gotten him to 18th all time on the win list but when he gets No. 3,000 he will be the 13th pitcher to reach that milestone, which is amazing when you consider he has averaged 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings, a figure that isn't even in the top 100. Nor has he ever led the league in strikeouts. Add in the fact that he is the shortest of any of the other 12 pitchers ahead of him.

Of all his achievements, this certainly isn't one he tried to reach.

"That's a good way to run your pitch count up and not be around for the sixth or seventh inning" he told the Chicago Tribune. "I just try to get guys out. If I strike them out, great. If they ground out that's okay too. You have to get 27 outs to win. It doesn't matter how you get them."