The numbers point directly to Chad Cordero, and he says it doesn't faze him.
"I don't think about that at all," he said.
The topic is baseball's All-Star Game, which will be held July 12 in Detroit. All but one member of each squad will be named July 3 -- including the entire pitching staffs -- and Cordero, the Washington Nationals' closer, has as good a chance as anyone. Just 23, he leads the major leagues with 23 saves, and has only blown two opportunities -- none since April 21. He also leads the National League relievers in ERA -- 1.00.
Yet Cordero's response to the suggestion that he is a leading candidate to be named to the NL team mimics his demeanor on the mound -- blase.
"The only thing I can worry about is going out there and playing every day for Washington," he said. "If it happens, it happens. That'd be great. But I'm not worried about it."
Despite the Nationals' stint atop the NL East, no Washington position player has appeared among the top five in fan voting all season. First baseman Nick Johnson -- who entered yesterday tied for sixth in the NL in batting average (.321), second in on-base percentage (.445) and sixth in on-base plus slugging (.957) -- is a strong candidate. But NL Manager Tony La Russa would have to take at least three first basemen, because Chicago's Derrek Lee leads and St. Louis's Albert Pujols -- both in the top five in average, RBI and homers -- are locks.
Outfielder Jose Guillen is making a charge, but his 15 homers and 41 RBI aren't in the top 10 in either category.
Right-hander Livan Hernandez likely has a better chance than Johnson or Guillen. Hernandez (10-2, 3.38 ERA) leads the league in innings pitched (112), is tied for the lead in quality starts (13) and likely has four more starts before the break. He represented the Montreal Expos last season, but did not play.
In Carroll's Corner
When second baseman Jose Vidro returns, don't expect Jamey Carroll to lose his roster spot. "If Jamey goes," Manager Frank Robinson said, "I'm gone."