ATLANTA -- Bobby Cox and Joe Torre can rest easy now -- the hardest part of managing an All-Star Game is behind them. All that's left is to enjoy tonight's 71st edition of baseball's midsummer classic.
Cox and Torre were pushed to the limit over the weekend, and it had nothing to do with their teams' respective pennant races. With an unprecedented number of All-Stars forced to skip the game (8 p.m., Channel 26) because of injuries, the two managers had to adjust their lineups many times over.
And though the wattage at Turner Field may be a little low, it should be replaced with a good supply of youthful enthusiasm. Twenty-six players are making their All-Star debuts tonight.
"The lineup's changed many times," said Cox, the Atlanta manager who will guide the National League club. "I had a lineup really set, etched in stone here about 10 days ago. Our guys started dropping a little bit."
Torre, the New York Yankees manager who will lead the American League squad, looked on the replacement selections as an opportunity.
"It was very unfortunate how many players we have lost due to injury here over the last couple of weeks," he said. "And I guess the only upside to that is there are so many more deserving players that the roster allows you to have. Now you're able to honor more."
Starting pitchers Randy Johnson and David Wells were announced Monday by the managers. Johnson, 14-2 with an ERA of 1.80, will make his seventh All-Star appearance and second for the National League. Wells, 15-2 with a 3.44 ERA, is just the fifth pitcher since 1985 to notch that many victories at the All-Star break.
Both managers used injuries to starters as a chance to name their own players to the starting lineup. Andres Galarraga will replace Mark McGwire at first base for the National League, while Derek Jeter will fill in at shortstop for Alex Rodriguez.
The National League was hardest hit by the injury wave. In addition to McGwire, also lost are Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza. Other American League starters forced to miss tonight's game are Cal Ripken and Manny Ramirez.
For the American League, Roberto Alomar will lead off and play second base. He's followed by Jeter at shortstop, Bernie Williams in center field, Jason Giambi at first, Carl Everett in left field, Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate, Jermaine Dye in right field and Travis Fryman at third base.
Shortstop Barry Larkin will lead off for the National League, followed by Chipper Jones at third base, Gary Sheffield or Vladimir Guerrero in left field, Sammy Sosa in right field, Jeff Kent at second base, Galarraga at first base, Jim Edmonds in center field and Jason Kendall behind the plate.
Despite eight of the fan favorites missing the game, Cox thinks tonight's game should be competitive.
"In these cases, they're all legitimate injuries, and they can't help it," he said. "I know those other guys, too, they really like to compete in these things a lot more than most people think. They are competitors."
Reach John Boyette at (706) 823-3337.
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