As if All-Star starting pitchers Hideo Nomo and Randy Johns
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) _ As if All-Star starting pitchers Hideo Nomo and Randy Johnson needed any more help, they’ll have umpire Durwood Merrill behind the plate Tuesday night.
Merrill’s plate was usually pretty wide when he called balls and strikes, remembered Nolan Ryan, baseball’s career strikeout leader.
``I think Durwood will have a pretty good strike zone,″ Ryan said Monday. ``I always enjoyed having Durwood working my games. And he’s a Texan, too, and there’s nothing wrong with that.″
Ryan will throw out the ceremonial first ball, albeit at ``half the speed that Randy will throw it,″ he said.
Ryan, who retired after the 1993 season at age 46, said he occasionally goes out and pitches from a mound for fun.
``If I got loose, I could probably still throw in the high 80s,″ he said.
ALL THE RIGHT MOVES: Buck Showalter is known for his careful preparation each time his New York Yankees play. He’s also studied every detail in getting ready for his first game as the AL manager.
Along with checking out the matchups and looking ahead to whom he might save for the late innings, he’s aware of one other important item _ ``to make sure all the Texas Rangers get in the game.″
Two years ago in Baltimore, AL manager Cito Gaston of Toronto was booed when he let Blue Jays reliever Duane Ward close out a victory while leaving Mike Mussina of the Orioles in the bullpen.
The hometown Rangers have two players in this game, starting catcher Ivan Rodriguez and pitcher Kenny Rogers, who will be ready to relieve.
STEAM HEAT: Temperatures in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have hit 100 this week, and that sent many fans from the stands to the first-aid station at The Ballpark during Monday’s workouts.
Nurses said about 50 fans sought treatment for heat exhaustion, although none needed to go to the hospital.
``The majority of people are coming from an air conditioned world to the real world,″ medical technician Richard Jeter said. ``Many of them are just not prepared. They’re not eating before they come here, they’re not drinking enough water, they’re wearing the wrong clothes, not wearing sunscreen. There’s high temperature, high humidity and no wind _ that sets you up for a heat emergency.″
Gametime temperature Tuesday evening was forecast to be 100, give or take a degree or two.
LOOK OUT! Anyone planning on sitting in the outfield stands for batting practice before the All-Star game might want to bring a glove.
At least four fans were injured by flying baseballs at Monday’s practice, including one 4-year-old girl who was struck under the eye. None of the injuries was serious.
SAY WHAT? With Hideo Nomo’s regular translator not on duty at the All-Star game, a rookie interpreter was brought in by baseball this week to help out the NL’s starting pitcher at press conferences.
A member of the Japanese media, however, said something was lost in the translation when Nomo spoke Monday morning.
One of Nomo’s answers was translated: ``He’ll play as if his life depended on it.″ The translation should have been: ``He will try his utmost.″
Nomo, like all the rest of the All-Stars, had a good workout even before he took the field Monday. Each of the All-Stars is required to autograph about 40 dozen baseballs, along with a lot of hats, bats and other souvenirs, that are used at charity events.
CLIPPING CAL: Though the All-Star game is only an exhibition, it seems that both leagues have played harder in recent years, with bunts, intentional walks and aggressive baserunning.
Dante Bichette intends to carry on that recent trend, even if it means a hard slide into Cal Ripken to break up a double play. Ripken is closing in on Lou Gehrig’s record of playing in 2,130 consecutive games and would break the mark in early September, barring injury.
``I go in clean, but I go in hard,″ said Bichette of the Colorado Rockies. ``Ripken doesn’t want people taking it easy on him anyway.″
NICE SHOW: Mickey Morandini was a big winner at the All-Star game, even before the first pitch. The second baseman from the Philadelphia Phillies showed off his skills at a baseball party Monday night at the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park.
Morandini won a miniature basketball by making a shot at the shoot-through-the-hoop stand, then won a doll by knocking over three targets with three straight throws at another concession stand. Morandini carried the ball onto several rides, while his wife Peg held the toy.