tampabay.com

All-Star quirks favor Shields, Reyes

Tampa Bay representative next month probably will have to be selected by AL manager Jim Leyland.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 10, 2007


MIAMI - The Devil Rays don't win a lot of elections.

And with the usual ultra-slim chance of a Ray being voted to the AL All-Star team by the fans, and the only slightly better possibility of one being elected by the players, the Tampa Bay representative next month probably will have to be selected by AL manager Jim Leyland.

Even that's not easy, because Leyland has to work within an unwieldy structure that, while requiring each team to be represented, tends to leave more room for pitchers than position players.

So though a case can be made for B.J. Upton, who ranks among the top four AL second basemen in average (.320), homers (nine), RBIs (30) and steals (13) and whose versatility could legitimately help the AL team win, the path to San Francisco will be more difficult. (Especially if Robinson Cano wins the fan voting as Leyland will definitely take his own Placido Polanco.)

The same can be said for Carl Crawford, whose recent warming trend has him among the top 10 AL outfielders in numerous offensive categories, but he faces tough numbers.

More likely, the Rays' All-Star will be RHP James Shields, whose stellar work (6-0, 3.04) includes a complete-game victory over Leyland's Tigers, or RHP Al Reyes, whose comeback from Tommy John surgery included an unexpected evolution into one of the league's top closers, converting his first 15 save opportunities.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: You'd think Josh Hamilton would be thanking executive VP Andrew Friedman for leaving him available in the Rule 5 draft and allowing him to get to the big leagues, not cursing him. ... An interesting question for Friedman to ponder as the trade deadline nears is what to do when teams ask about Reyes. ... TV analyst Joe Magrane doesn't figure to see much of his new neighbor in Tampa's Avila area, early-rising Bucs coach Jon Gruden: "I'll probably be setting my alarm clock when he's turning his off." ... Yes, that is the same Jesus Colome, who is 4-0 with a save and a 2.25 ERA in 32 relief appearances for the Nationals. And the same Jorge Sosa, who is 6-2, 2.64 in seven starts for the Mets. ... That no-strings-attached, free-donut-when-the-Rays-win promotion at Dunkin' Donuts hasn't exactly caught on: An average of only 1, 776 have been claimed after each victory. ... Ex-Rays 3B Jared Sandberg, who hasn't played in the majors since 2003, signed with the Royals' Double-A Wichita team.

DRAFT BREEZE: ESPN.com's Keith Law ranked LHP David Price second behind Georgia Tech C Matt Wieters but, noting the Rays needed pitching, said Price was "seen as more signable, " was "polished" and has "tremendous" stuff: "He can move very quickly through the minors." ... ESPN colleague Steve Phillips expects Price in the Rays' rotation by the end of next season. ... Seventh-round pick Reid Fronk celebrated his selection by singling in the winning run in North Carolina's Super Region win Friday. ... Third-rounder RHP Nicholas Barnese has been praised for a new attitude after being suspended his junior season from his Simi Valley (Calif.) High team, barred from games and practice for what the Los Angeles Times described as "violating the school's athletic code." ... Eighth-rounder LHP Matthew Moore was New Mexico prep player of the year. ... Fordham C John Mollicone, the 27th-round pick, went to Rocco Baldelli's high school, Bishop Hendricken, in Rhode Island. ... With the 964th pick, the Rays took C Thad Griffen, whom Baseball America ranked the 152nd-best prospect.