Major League Baseball
Chipper gets KC sendoff
Major League Baseball

Chipper gets KC sendoff

Published Jul. 11, 2012 8:38 a.m. ET

Chipper Jones made a brand new stop on his farewell tour.

The Atlanta Braves' third baseman, who is retiring after the season, singled as a pinch hitter in the All-Star Game in his first-ever appearance at Kauffman Stadium.

In a quirk of interleague scheduling, the Braves have never played in Kansas City.

The 40-year-old Jones received a standing ovation from the fans when he came to the plate in the sixth inning and got another appreciative roar after singling off Chris Sales.


''It was kind of hard to see 97 (mph) coming out of Sales' hand,'' Jones said. ''You're not going to get a base hit if you don't swing the bat.''

Before his grounder made it past second baseman Ian Kinsler and into the outfield, Jones was trying to leg out a hit.

''Yeah, I was thinking beat it out all the way,'' Jones said. ''At 40 years old, legging out a hit in the All-Star Game. That's exactly how I scripted it.''

NL manager Tony La Russa suggested that Jones, an eight-time All-Star, address the team before the game. Jones said during the media day before the home run derby that he wasn't big on speeches.

But he took La Russa up on the offer.

''We've won two. Win three, and that's a winning streak,'' Jones told the team. ''We have an opportunity to do that tonight. And I am not going out losing my last one. So, you with me?''

It certainly appeared that they were.


ROOKIE ROUNDUP: Bryce Harper finally acted his age at the All-Star game.

The 19-year-old Washington Nationals phenom lost a fly ball in the lights and got hung up between second and third Tuesday night during the NL's 8-0 victory over the American League. At the plate, he was 0 for 1 with a strikeout and a walk.

Still, his gaffe in left field and rundown on the bases didn't stop Harper from savoring the moment.

''It was a lot of fun. It was a great game,'' he said.

The only All-Stars younger than Harper were a pair of 19-year-old pitchers: Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets in 1984 and Hall of Famer Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians in 1938.

That made Harper the youngest position player to be selected for an All-Star team, perhaps qualifying more for his potential than for his production. He was batting .282 at the break with eight homers and 25 RBIs.

Harper was among an All-Star-record five rookies this year, one more than in 2001 and 2003. The 2001 class is pretty distinguished - Albert Pujols, Jimmy Rollins, Ben Sheets and Ichiro Suzuki. In 2003, the rookies who made it were Lance Carter, Mike MacDougal, Hideki Matsui and Dontrelle Willis.

Among other rookies, 20-year-old Mike Trout of the Angels had a hit, a walk and a stolen base. Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks allowed a hit in one-third of an inning and Ryan Cook of the Athletics worked a scoreless inning.

''I'm going to remember this the rest of my life,'' Trout said.


DAZZLING FOOTWORK: Forget about New York Fashion Week and all those runways in Milan.

If you wanted to see some dazzling footwear, you needed to watch the All-Star game.

Melky Cabrera made an MVP statement in his fluorescent orange spikes, courtesy of Nike, while the Mets' David Wright also trotted out wearing cleats that resembled traffic cones.

Curtis Granderson wore bright white shoes that stood out even against the starched white pinstripes of the Yankees, while Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval had orange and gold cleats, and Nationals rookie Bryce Harper rocked some golden kicks when he entered the game.

''It was Nike that made them special for me,'' Cabrera said through a translator. ''I brought my own spikes from San Francisco, but I wore (the gold shoes) because I think they are cute.''


BILLY'S AT-BATS: Designated hitter Billy Butler, the Royals' lone All-Star representative, was given a standing ovation when he entered the game as a pinch hitter for David Ortiz in the seventh inning.

Butler grounded out to shortstop, but got another chance with Elvis Andrus on second base and one out in the ninth. After another ovation, Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan struck out Butler.

The affable Butler might not have gotten his chance if not for Ortiz, who started the game as the AL's designated hitter. It was Ortiz who pushed manager Ron Washington to make the lineup change.

''Washington wanted me to take a third at-bat,'' Ortiz said after leaving the game, ''but I said, `Let my boy come in for his fans.'''


CAMEO APPEARANCE: The longtime right-hand man of National League manager Tony La Russa's doesn't think he'll return to the game, either.

Dave Duncan, La Russa's pitching coach for more than 30 years with the White Sox, Athletics and Cardinals, is on an open-ended leave of absence to be with his ailing wife and is living in southwest Missouri. He hasn't officially retired but said Tuesday he doesn't anticipate coaching again.

Janine Duncan's condition has stabilized after surgery to remove a brain tumor last summer.

Derek Lilliquist was promoted from bullpen coach to pitching coach in January.

Duncan tutored several Cy Young Award winners, including LaMarr Hoyt, Dennis Eckersley and Chris Carpenter. With the Cardinals, he was credited with helping to resurrect the careers of Woody Williams, Jeff Suppan and Kyle Lohse.

It was La Russa's decision to start the Giants' Matt Cain over Mets 12-game winner R.A. Dickey. He and Duncan collaborated on the best spot to use Dickey, given neither of the NL catchers had much, if any, experience with a knuckleballer.

Duncan said the plan called for Dickey to pitch in the fifth inning, and not to be the second pitcher used.

''He will not come in second because that isn't where it makes sense to use him,'' La Russa said. ''When you see how he's used, you'll understand.''

La Russa knew he'd be questioned about his decision and noted that Dickey's first half is a ''great story.'' But he added, ''There's a whole clubhouse full of great stories. He doesn't have to start the game.''


BOO BIRDS: Indians closer Chris Perez was prepared for a frigid welcome from fans in Kansas City after some actions and remarks that drew heat earlier this season.

During a series early in the season, he mocked the ''Our Time'' slogan the Royals adopted for this season in an inflammatory posting on Twitter. When the teams met again in Cleveland, he drew more ire for a taunting gesture directed at the Royals' Jarrod Dyson after striking him out.

''I've been booed before. It probably won't be the last time,'' Perez said, ''but at the same time, I'm playing for the AL. I'm trying to help the AL win.''

That's why Perez hopes the boos at Kauffman Stadium aren't quite as loud as they were for the Yankees' Robinson Cano, who was hounded mercilessly during the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night.

''I love Kansas City. I love playing here. If they boo, they boo,'' Perez said. ''I don't think anything I say is off the wall. I believe everything I say, and I think some people agree with me. And if they don't, I think people still respect that I say what I believe.''


BY THE NUMBERS: Baseball is a game in which numbers matter, where statistics such as a pitcher's ERA or a player's batting average can have a dramatic impact on future contracts

Of course, people are keeping track of other numbers during the All-Star festivities.

As in, there are 80 barbecue joints in Kansas City, more per capita than any other U.S. city, according to the Kansas City Barbeque Society. And there are more than 200 fountains in the so-called ''City of Fountains,'' five of which were colored blue for All-Star weekend.

There also are five statues in the shape of crowns throughout the city, each of them weighing half a ton. They are part of the city's embrace of the annual Midsummer Classic.


INSTANT ARTIFACTS: Three items were sent to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.: the bat used by Pablo Sandoval to hit the first bases-clearing triple in All-Star Game history, Chipper Jones' cap and the bat he used in his final All-Star Game appearance.


AP Sports Writer David Skretta contributed to this report.


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