John Kruk hopes that Seattle Mariners pitcher Randy Johnson doesn't get traded to the National League any time soon. Kruk might consider retiring after getting his fill of Johnson in last night's 9-3 All-Star Game loss at Camden Yards.
"For two days, I couldn't sleep thinking about that guy," said Kruk, whose third-inning strikeout was one of the more comical moments in recent All-Star history.
After flying out against American League starter Mark Langston in the first inning, Kruk came up against the 6-foot-10 left-hander with two out in the third.
With an 0-1 count, Johnson threw a pitch a couple of feet over Kruk's head. The Philadelphia Phillies first baseman then swung meekly at two straight curves.
"If he's going to hit me, it's going to have to be a moving target," said Kruk.
Asked about his 0-for-3 performance, which also included a strikeout against New York Yankees left-hander Jimmy Key, Kruk said: "My performance spoke for itself. They won't want me back."
"It was a bit humid out there, and the ball just got away from me," Johnson said after pitching two scoreless innings. "But John has the type personality, I think, that he didn't think anything of it and he got a little reaction out of it."
While Kruk joked that he knew Johnson's pitch wasn't intentional some of his teammates said that it carried a message, anyway.
"I think it scared everybody on the bench when he hoisted that one," said Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin.
The wild one
Speaking of wildness, Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz tied an All-Star Game record with two wild pitches in an inning. Smoltz got crossed up on signals from Darren Daulton after coming in with two out in the sixth and the National League behind 6-3.
The first scored Albert Belle, and after he walked Juan Gonzalez, the second scored Devon White in a three-run inning that broke open the game for the AL. Smoltz joined Juan Marichal, who did it in 1962, and Dave Stieb, who did it in 1980.
"It was tough to see the signals because there was a little shadow around home plate," said Smoltz. "I threw a really good curveball, but he called for a fastball in."
About the only positive note for the NL was the two-run home run by Gary Sheffield in the first inning off Langston. The Florida Marlins third baseman said it was the shoes, not the bat, that helped him.
"I had on my lucky shoes," said Sheffield, who wore a pair of teal-and-black shoes made especially for the game. "They're going right in the trophy case."
That's Igor to you
San Diego Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn, who has been in nine All-Star Games, takes a keen interest in catching a glimpse of American League stars he hasn't seen in person.
In 1989, he was awed by the sight of Bo Jackson. This year, it was Gonzalez who caught his eye. Gonzalez is nicknamed "Igor."
"He's huge," Gwynn said. "I would call him 'Sir,' as big as he is."
Pitcher Andy Benes said the Padres have indicated to him that he's one of the players they want to rebuild with once their housecleaning is finished.
"In so many words, they said they don't want to move me," Benes said. "But they have some tough decisions to make. If someone offered the right deal, they'd have to consider it."
Benes was the first player taken in the 1988 draft, one year before Ben McDonald was the top choice by the Orioles. Both learned to pitch while in the big leagues.
"My first two or three years were learning what I should be doing," Benes said. "Ben and I had to learn at a tough level."
Benes, who has a league-leading 2.57 ERA, said he finally felt comfortable last August.
"It was more mental than physical," he said. "I didn't have the right perspective when I was out there."
Barry Bonds of the Giants became the fifth player to collect two doubles in an All-Star Game. The last to double twice was Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs in 1959. . . . Sheffield became the first player from a first-year expansion team to homer in an All-Star Game as well as the first from an expansion team to start.