Jimmy Key of the New York Yankees is the most logical -- and perhaps deserving -- choice to start Tuesday's All-Star Game for the American League. He pitched Friday night, has an 11-2 record, the league's best ERA (2.31), and is left-handed.
But because Yankees manager Buck Showalter wants Key to pitch only one inning, he may not be the choice of AL manager Cito Gaston.
"All I can tell you is that a left-hander will be starting for us," said Gaston, who will announce his starter and batting order tomorrow.
A left-hander is preferable against a starting National League lineup that will feature some pretty potent left-handed bats in Barry Bonds, David Justice, Darren Daulton and John Kruk.
If Key doesn't start, the honor will fall to Mark Langston (9-3, 2.82) of the California Angels or Randy Johnson (10-5, 3.05) of the Seattle Mariners, who leads the majors in strikeouts with 164.
Although no AL pitcher threw more than an inning in last year's game, Gaston, the Toronto Blue Jays manager, may look for more from Tuesday's starter. He has a nine-man staff, a concession he made to put Blue Jays center fielder Devon White on the team.
Davey's raging popularity
Bonds' leading vote count of 3,074,603 this season was the highest total since 1980, when Davey Lopes, a second baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers, rang up 3,862,403. Now a coach with the Orioles, Lopes has an explanation.
"I don't compare myself as being even close to Barry Bonds," he said yesterday. "It's a matter of there being an abundance of outfielders to vote for, as opposed to second basemen. That narrows the choice down. Second, more people are involved [in the voting process]. And playing in Los Angeles didn't hurt. We were on TV every Saturday."
There were nearly 12 million ballots cast in 1980, compared to less than 8.5 million this season. The all-time, single-season leading vote-getter? Rod Carew, then of the Minnesota Twins, pulled in 4,292,740 votes in 1977, when the highest number of ballots were cast (12.56 million). He drew more than 4 million votes twice in his career.
Try, try again
The Associated Press conducted a poll of managers to see if they agreed with the starters selected by the fans, and consensus was reached on only seven of the 16 picks.
Rejected as starters were Cal Ripken, Kirby Puckett, Wade Boggs and Ivan Rodriguez in the American League, and Ryne Sandberg, Andy Van Slyke, Gary Sheffield, Justice and Kruk in the National.
The NL managers would have replaced Sandberg with Robby Thompson at second base, Sheffield with Matt Williams at third, Kruk with Andres Galarraga at first, and Van Slyke and Justice with Marquis Grissom and Bobby Bonilla in the outfield.
In the AL, Ripken received only one vote and was beaten out by Omar Vizquel and Travis Fryman, who tied at shortstop. Rodriguez would have lost to Mickey Tettleton at catcher, Puckett to Albert Belle in the outfield, and Boggs to Dean Palmer at third base.
Ten NL managers responded to the survey, and eight responded inthe AL. They could not vote for their own players. The Giants' John Burkett and Seattle's Johnson were voted the starting pitchers.
A timely suspension
Sheffield, one of two Florida Marlins named to the NL team with Bryan Harvey, began serving a three-game suspension Friday night after withdrawing an appeal of the sentence. He was suspended for charging the mound after getting hit by a pitch from Rick Trlicek of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Sheffield has been bothered by swelling in his right shoulder, an injury he suffered diving for a ball shortly before he was traded by the San Diego Padres on June 24. He began taking anti-inflammatory medication last week. The injury affects his swing and his throwing.
He still hopes to play in the All-Star Game.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.