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Rios rising -- with some help?

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2002

Armando Rios might be a cult favorite.

Armando Rios might be a cult favorite.

The more plausible explanation for Rios' place among the best National League outfielders in All-Star voting is a minor flaw in Major League Baseball's system.

The injured Pirate ranked sixth overall among NL outfielders last week with 184,000 votes -- ahead of Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield, Ken Griffey and Luis Gonzalez.

His teammate, Brian Giles, had a .309 batting average, 15 homers and 38 RBIs through Friday.

"Maybe it's like the Broward County election," said Rios, who has a bruised left knee and is hitting .257 with no homers and nine RBIs. "Maybe the space to punch my name is lined up wrong and the votes that are going to me should be going to Barry (Bonds) or Sammy Sosa."

Major League Baseball is investigating a possible glitch in its voting system that allows fans to vote online or cast their vote on a paper ballot at ballparks.

Rios is listed above Sosa on the paper ballot.

THE LIST: The latest owner to go on record saying his club isn't a candidate for contraction is David Glass, chairman of the Royals.

"Kansas City is not on any list," he said last week. "The reason my family bought the Royals is to make sure the Royals are here in Kansas City for all of us to enjoy for the foreseeable future."

The Royals, according to Glass, will lose about $20-million this season after increasing payroll $15-million and seeing 1,100 fewer fans per game than last season. At 25-39 through Friday, Kansas City had the third-worst record in the AL.

Glass hopes competitive balance is achieved.

"What I've said on a consistent basis is that we're going to have years when we lose money and years when we make a little money," he said. "What I'd like to do, overall, is come close to breaking even as we go forward.

"I've not changed that thought at all, which means we're either going to have to reduce our payroll or change the system. I'm still optimistic and believe the system will get changed and that we will gradually bring parity back into this equation. When that happens, then I think it all works."

SAYING NO TO SUDS: The ballpark that will play host to the All-Star Game is sponsored by Miller Brewing Company, but officials decided against selling beer at the All-Star FanFest next month in Milwaukee.

"Beer is not really what draws people to our event," said Marla Miller, MLB senior vice president of special events. "With timed admissions and a family-oriented event that ends in the early evening, it has never been of primary concern for us to have beer. We open at nine in the morning. I don't think people need beer at that hour."

INTERLEAGUE NOSTALGIA: The Yankees-Mets series isn't the only World Series rematch during interleague play.

The Marlins open a three-game series against the Indians on Tuesday at Pro Player Stadium. Florida beat Cleveland in the 1997 World Series. The Yankees and Padres, who met in the 1998 Series, begin a three-game set Friday in San Diego and the A's and Reds, in a rematch of the 1990 Series, also start their series Friday.

ODDS AND ENDS: After two impressive workouts last week in Houston, Cubs reliever Tom Gordon might be two weeks away from returning to the mound in a game. Gordon will likely work as a setup man for closer Antonio Alfonseca. ... Given that attendance could drop below 2-million this season, the Brewers might be one of the more active teams trading-wise. They have eight soon-to-be free agents making $500,000 or more. ... Former Rays pitcher Rick White will not be around when his old team visits Coors Field this week. Out since May 27 with spasms in his right shoulder, White was sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs for a rehabilitation assignment.

THE LAST WORD: Normally a setup man out of the Reds bullpen, Scott Sullivan understandably wasn't ready to pitch Monday against Texas when called upon. Starter Carlos Almanzar left the game in the first inning when a line drive fractured his ring finger. Sullivan entered and gave up a pair of home runs in 11/3 innings.

"I was sitting in the sun in the bullpen with my shoes off eating a cookie," Sullivan said. "The sun is real bright at that time of the day, shining right into our bullpen and you can hardly see.

"When I saw what happened to Almanzar, I yelled to the guys, "Somebody is going to have to get ready in a hurry, Carlos is out.' Next thing I know, it's me."

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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