TORONTO -- Second baseman Roberto Alomar had an interesting response for Texas Rangers infielder Julio Franco, who recently complained that he should be the starter at second base.
"If he wants to start, let him start," Alomar said at yesterday's All-Star news conference. "I'm just happy to be here."
But AL manager Tony La Russa left Alomar's name in the starting lineup. Franco, who had the better overall numbers and was the All-Star Most Valuable Player last year, will come off the bench as planned.
Franco is batting .318 with nine home runs, 40 RBI and 17 stolen bases. Alomar is hitting .283 with five homers, 37 RBI and 27 stolen bases. His selection to the starting lineup hardly ranks as a major case of All-Star injustice, especially when brother Sandy and his four RBI also are in the starting lineup.
Franco arrives late
The All-Star workout went on without Franco, who was scheduled to arrive in Toronto late yesterday after being discharged from a Texas hospital. Franco underwent a cardiac catheterization after complaining of chest discomfort, but has been cleared to play tonight.
Open season on pitchers . . .
The home-run derby proved what Blue Jays fans already know. The ball carries very well at SkyDome when the roof is open.
Cal Ripken, who has good power but is not known as one of baseball's big boppers, hit three balls that cleared the scoreboard attached to the facing of the third deck. He finished with 12 homers in all.
Detroit Tigers first baseman Cecil Fielder hit two balls that cleared the Windows restaurant high above center field. The longest shot was measured at 458 feet, but that seemed to be a conservative estimate.
The American League won the annual home run contest, 20-7, raising $13,500 for charity at $500 apiece.
. . . or dark day for hitters
Milwaukee Brewers infielder Paul Molitor said he thinks that the trend toward low-scoring All-Star games will continue because the pitchers are at an advantage.
"The hitters get one at-bat against a pitcher they have hardly, if ever, seen before," Molitor said. "I think it is very difficult for hitters to be successful in that situation. One at-bat and the pitcher has a better chance to dominate that situation, no matter how good a hitter the guy happens to be."
* The workout festivities included a Heroes of Baseball Oldtimers game, part of the Upper Deck series that raised $260,000 for the Baseball Assistance Team, which assists former players in need. BAT also will receive grants totaling $1 million from the Freedom Forum ($325,000), Major League Baseball ($300,000), the Major League Baseball Players Association ($300,000) and USA Today ($75,000).
* Proceeds from the All-Star workout day -- which drew 44,731 -- will benefit the Junior Jays Charity Programs, which include programs to help disabled and underprivileged children.
* The Warner-Lambert Co. announced the creation of the Rolaids Relief Fund, which will be formed to assist in relief efforts around the world. Rolaids will donate up to $50,000 to support relief efforts chosen by the company in conjunction with Major League Baseball.
* Ripken received a trophy for his 12-homer performance in the Home Run Derby.
Blasts from the past
Lou Brock went 3-for-3 and Bill Mazeroski hit a second-inning home run to help the National League beat the American League, 9-3, in the three-inning Heroes of Baseball Oldtimers game. John Wathan hit a two-run homer for the AL.
Managers on display
La Russa will be going for his third straight victory as All-Star manager. He is only the fourth manager to guide an All-Star team three straight years. Casey Stengel holds the record at five straight.
National League manager Lou Piniella will manage in an All-Star Game for the first time. He joins a group of 20 who have played and managed in All-Star competition.
Fielder, Bell return
Fielder and Chicago Cubs outfielder George Bell were back in the city where it all began, but they got different responses from the crowd at the workout.
Bell was introduced for the home run derby and got a 50-50 mix of cheers and boos. The response improved after announcer Joe Garagiola chided the crowd for its ambivalent response to one of the Blue Jays franchise's greatest players.
There was nothing mixed about the response for Fielder, who received a tremendous ovation. He left the Blue Jays to play in Japan before coming back to the major leagues with the Tigers, and he never has had cause to regret his decision.
"It [leaving] was probably the best thing that has happened to me in my career," Fielder said. "I needed the at-bats to perform, and I knew that Japan was my opportunity to do something and gain confidence."
Carlton Fisk, at 43 years, 6 months, 13 days, is the third-oldest player to participate in an All-Star Game. The oldest were Satchel Paige (47) in 1953 and Pete Rose (44) in 1985.
Sandy and Roberto Alomar will both be in the starting lineup for the AL team tonight, making them the third brother combination to play on the same team in the All-Star Game.
Walker and Mort Cooper, both of the St. Louis Cardinals, played for the NL team in 1942, and Joe and Dom DiMaggio played together on the AL team in the 1949 game.
Pedro Guerrero was named NL Player of the Week after hitting .376 with 3 homers and 9 RBI. Danny Tartabull won the award in the AL for a performance that included 6 homers and 10 RBI.