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A-Rod's Nice Gesture Was Calculated

July 11, 2001|Jim Barrero

Alex Rodriguez had it figured out almost a week beforehand, and it turned out to be a most appropriate going-away present.

It was Rodriguez's idea to have Cal Ripken Jr. move from third base to shortstop for the first inning, enabling the Baltimore Orioles' retiring Iron Man one last chance to play the position he helped revolutionize.

Ripken, who had not played a game at short since Sept. 1, 1997, hesitated before American League Manager Joe Torre waved him over from the dugout.

"I saw him ever since I've been alive," said Rodriguez, who called Torre last Thursday to clear the plan with him. "He's been in the league 20 years, and I'm 25."

Ripken, who was voted by fans to start at third base, has played 2,302 games at shortstop in his career, with Tuesday possibly being the last time.

Highlight Reel: When Ripken homered on Chan Ho Park's first pitch of the third inning, his facial expression was priceless. As Park's pitch arrived--or better put, was served up--Ripken's eyes widened and his mouth was agape as the ball sailed off his bat over the left-field fence.

Winning Number: 1. Seattle Mariner setup man Jeff Nelson's first All-Star appearance was a successful one, proving he belonged after having been left off the original roster by Torre, a decision some said had further cooled the relationship between the two.

Nelson struck out Moises Alou on a vicious off-speed pitch and gave up only a walk to Albert Pujols in his inning of work.

"There were a lot of emotions and to be here in your home stadium is unbelievable," said Nelson, who denied there ever has been any bad blood with Torre. "It's always been good. The media are the ones who've said there's been a problem."

Wrong Numbers: 11-5, 3.02. Even an impressive won-loss record and earned-run average weren't good enough to get Minnesota Twin pitcher Eric Milton in the game. He was the only AL all-star not to play.

Not in the Box Score: As Ripken rounded the bases during his home run trot, National League third baseman Chipper Jones paid tribute by quietly clapping into his glove.

First-Timers: Japan's Ichiro Suzuki and Kazuhiro Sasaki made the most of their first All-Star appearances. Suzuki opened the game with an exciting infield single to first, beating Randy Johnson to the bag, and Sasaki set down the National League in order in the ninth to close out a 4-1 victory.

Old Hands: Yankee coach Don Zimmer, with his lovable caricature-like appearance, long has been perceived as one of the game's most colorful characters.

But when Fox stuck a microphone in front of him during an in-game interview with Torre, all Zimmer could muster while looking away was: "I think we should strike this guy out," talking about Barry Bonds.

Although he might lack wit on the spot, Zimmer at least showed his words are sometimes prophetic.

Two pitches later, Yankee Andy Pettitte struck out Bonds to end the top of the fourth inning.

Quotebook: "Some of the kids ask to see it, but it's kind of out of their price range."--Mariner fan Steve DesGarennes, on the autographed Suzuki trading card he tried to peddle for $800 outside

Safeco Field before the game.

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