Cain gets NL starting nod over Dickey
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Owner of the best record in baseball, R.A. Dickey was hoping to become the first knuckleball pitcher to start an All-Star Game since Dutch Leonard in 1943.
A 12-1 record wasn’t good enough. Tony La Russa picked San Francisco’s Matt Cain, who threw the first perfect game in franchise history June 13, to start for the National League tonight.
“I’m not going to break down in tears over it, but at the same time I’m a competitor. I want to pitch. I want to start,” said Dickey, who pitched for the Tacoma Rainiers and Seattle Mariners in 2008. “I feel like I had a good enough first half that I should be considered. But I’m not the boss. I don’t necessarily have to agree with him, but I have to respect it. That’s just the way it is.”
Detroit’s Justin Verlander will start for the American League.
La Russa, who retired after leading the St. Louis Cardinals to last year’s World Series title, made the decision after consulting with his longtime pitching coach, Dave Duncan.
“We wanted to reward Matt Cain for a career of excellence that’s getting better and better,” La Russa said. “And he had a great example of that during the summer on one of his pitching days.”
Cain also will be pitching to his regular catcher, Buster Posey. La Russa said Dickey likely will enter the game sometime in the first five innings, around the time Philadelphia’s Carlos Ruiz replaces Posey behind the plate.
Dickey hopes he wasn’t denied the start just because he throws knuckleball pitches.
“You’re talking about the best players in the world, and you’re asking about a pitch that’s too nasty to handle?” Dickey said. “I hope that’s not it. If that’s the reason, that’s a poor reason.”
Cain is 9-3 with a 2.62 ERA. Dickey, a first-time All-Star at age 37, became the first major leaguer in 24 years to throw consecutive one-hitters.
Phil Bradley was back in Missouri for the All-Star Home Run Derby.
Now an official with the players’ union, Bradley was an all-Big Eight quarterback for Missouri before becoming an All-Star outfielder for the Mariners in 1985 (he was a third-round pick by Seattle in 1981 and played for the Mariners from 1983-87.).
He remembers walking into the Metrodome for the All-Star Game, and being struck by the superstars walking in with him: Eddie Murray, George Brett, Tony Gwynn and others.
“I was in my second year in the majors,” Bradley said. “I was in awe.”
The Royals could have had quite the outfield: Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals and Melky Cabrera of the Giants have all passed through Kansas City during their playing careers. All of them are starting in the All-Star Game tonight. … La Russa got his playing start as an 18-year-old with Kansas City in 1963, back when the franchise was the Athletics. The team moved to Oakland in 1968. … American League manager Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers also has ties to Kansas City. He started off in the Royals’ baseball academy, which operated from 1971-75. “I was in the first class of the baseball academy. I don’t know how many people knew that,” Washington said. “It all started here in Kansas City, and so I’m very proud to be back here.”