It's been a season of downers for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the latest is that pitching ace Dan Haren won't start in the 80th annual All-Star Game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis Tuesday night.
National League manager Charlie Manuel, skipper of the Philadelphia Phillies, picked San Francisco Giants mop-headed phenom Tim Lincecum, 25, over Haren, 28, mostly because Lincecum is the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner.
But there were other reasons:
Lincecum is a great pitcher, with a 10-2 record this season (including a streak where he won 10 of 11). At 5-feet-11, 160 pounds, he's tiny in an era when pitchers are more often like Haren, 6-feet-5, 215 pounds. Because of his hard throwing and diminutive size, Lincecum's nicknmed "The Freak." He leads the league with 149 strikeouts.
The Giants pitcher's ERA was higher than Haren's (2.33 to 2.01) during the first half of the season, but Haren trailed in strikeouts and games won (129 and 9-5). The fact that the Diamondbacks were such a terrible offensive team for much of the first half didn't help Haren's chances of starting in the showcase game. He would have won several more games with better run production.
Lincecum's Giants are in second place in the National League West, with a 49-39 record (seven games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers), while Haren's D-Backs are fourth in the division, at 38-51 (18 and a half games out).
Haren accompanies 21-year-old right-fielder Justin Upton, batting .301, to the All-Star Game. Both are expected to see action, despite neither being in the starting lineup. The game starts at 5 p.m. and can be seen on FOX (Channel 10).
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The D-Backs released popular veteran slugger Tony Clark, 37, after the team's 8-1 loss to the Florida Marlins heading into the mid-season break Sunday night. The big first baseman, a crowd favorite, pinch-hit in the game at Chase Field and flied out. He was batting only .182 with four home runs and 11 RBI in 36 games this year.
A long-time resident of Glendale, where he is involved in a plethora of charity work, Clark hopes to catch on with another team, but acknowledges that his career may be over.
He told mlb.com: "Going forward I'll continue to work out and exhaust the possibility of continuing to play. If over the course of the next couple of weeks there are not any, I will wholeheartedly look to transition into something else."
First baseman Josh Whitesell is expected to be called up again from the minors to replace Clark on the roster.