Designated hitter Harold Baines was added to the American League all-star team today when Tampa Bay designated hitter Jose Canseco pulled out with a back injury, giving the last-place Baltimore Orioles four all-star representatives at Boston's Fenway Park on Tuesday night, tied for the most of any team.
The Orioles learned during batting practice today that Yankees Manager Joe Torre had chosen Baines to replace Canseco, who had surgery today to repair a herniated disk and will be sidelined for at least four weeks. Baines said Orioles traveling secretary Phil Itzoe "pulled me off the field and said, `Joe Torre would like to have you.' I said, `Sure.' "
It will be the sixth all-star appearance for Baines, but his first since 1991. He handled the news with typical cool detachment.
"I'm not emotional about it right now," he said. "I'm pretty sure tomorrow I will be."
Baines, 40, becomes the oldest all-star since Ozzie Smith made the 1996 National League team at age 41. Should Baines hit a homer, he would be the oldest player to do so in all-star game history. It was unclear today whether Torre would start Baines in place of Canseco, who was voted into the starting lineup at designated hitter in fan balloting, or pick a reserve position player to start.
Baines is having the best season of his 20-year career. His batting average (.345) and slugging percentage (.641) would be career highs, and he is on pace for the first 30-homer season of his career (he has 19). His RBI frequency (one for every 3.49 at-bats) would be second in the AL to RBI leader Manny Ramirez if Baines had enough at-bats to qualify.
"You couldn't have a better representative of a professional athlete than Harold Baines," Manager Ray Miller said. "He's the consummate hitter and consummate player. . . . What he's done in a relatively small number of at-bats is phenomenal."
Baines, who will earn $25,000 as a contract incentive for being selected, joins teammates Cal Ripken, B.J. Surhoff and Mike Mussina on the AL team. Only New York and Cleveland, the top two teams in the league, have as many representatives as the Orioles.
Surhoff in Homer Contest
Surhoff, selected to his first all-star team, will participate in the home run contest Monday night. Baines said he likely will decline if invited to participate, preferring to rest a tight shoulder. . . .
Miller said he would consider using Mussina as an emergency pinch hitter. Mussina is 3 for 11 with four RBI this season. "He swings at strikes, he doesn't overswing and he puts the ball in play," Miller said. "He's got a little pop, too. Lord knows what he'd do if he took some batting practice." . . .
Mike Timlin pitched a perfect ninth inning today for the second game in a row, extending the Orioles' string of scoreless relief to five outings covering five innings.