PHILADELPHIA SUN STAFF WRITER PETER SCHMUCK CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE. — PHILADELPHIA -- The All-Star festivities have been a bit somber for Chicago White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas.
Having to miss the All-Star Game with a sore foot is bad enough. But Thomas is worried that the injury, suffered rounding first base in a game Thursday, may force him to the disabled list for the first time in his career.
"I'm concerned now for the season," Thomas said. "I want to start the second half on time. I can't even walk without pain. If anything, it's getting worse."
Thomas was scheduled to bat fourth in the American League lineup last night but was replaced by Boston's Mo Vaughn, who hit fifth.
Thomas will see a doctor in Chicago today to learn the extent of the injury. Thomas said the pain was tremendous during the final two games of last weekend's series with the Cleveland Indians, and he does not think he can continue playing if the pain is that severe.
"I honestly don't know what's going on," Thomas said. "I don't think I can do anything. That's a killer right now. It's a real down time for me. Hopefully, I'm not out for a while, but that's a possibility. I definitely don't think I can be ready [to play on Thursday]. The DL is a possibility."
The injury also puts Thomas' consecutive-games streak in jeopardy. Thomas has the second-longest current streak, though a far cry from Cal Ripken's, at 346 games. Thomas is hitting .349 with 23 homers and 85 RBIs. The White Sox are three games ahead of the Orioles in the wild-card race.
Vaughn plays through pain
Vaughn is hurting, too.
Vaughn has torn ligaments in the middle finger on his right hand. It's an injury he's been playing with for four weeks. Vaughn said the pain was most acute during the final games of the Red Sox's series with the Orioles last weekend. All he did was hit two mammoth home runs Sunday night, including the second-longest home run in Camden Yards history.
Vaughn strongly considered not coming to Philadelphia, but after talking to his father he changed his mind. Last night, Vaughn said he was excited to play in front of his parents, who were in the stands.
"I'm going to play," Vaughn said. "I'm not going to let a finger keep me out of the All-Star Game. It's something I've learned to play with. Nobody said you've got be 100 percent all the time to play."
Boggs expects pennant race
Wade Boggs is looking forward to a pennant race with the Orioles.
The Yankees third baseman is thrilled with New York's six-game lead over the Orioles. Last year, the Yankees couldn't catch the Red Sox for the East crown, but were able to get the wild-card spot.
"I think the AL East pennant race is going down to the end of the season," Boggs said. "To be six games up with the injuries we've played through is truly amazing. I think we're a lot better team this year than last year. If we can get some guys healthy in August we could be a terrific team in September. I don't think you can ever put [the Orioles] away. They've got too much talent not to be."
A Belle backer
Indians slugger Albert Belle rarely, if ever, talks to the media, so his All-Star teammate Kenny Lofton is doing it for him.
Lofton said Belle's reputation as a bad guy is unfairly rubbing off on the team. Belle has had several run-ins with the media and has been chastised for numerous incidents, including chasing mischievous children in his car on Halloween.
Lofton said he's not trying to act as Belle's spokesman but that he feels obligated to stand up for someone he believes is being victimized by the media.
"Everyone wants to treat him like a criminal because he doesn't talk," Lofton said. "In every little thing that goes on, we're perceived as the bad guys. We're not at fault. It boils down to maybe one person. But you can't say one person is the whole team."
Ripken still chasing Mays
Ripken started his 13th straight All-Star Game last night. If he starts next year, he would tie Willie Mays' consecutive-starts streak. Earlier in the afternoon, Ripken took part in a photo shoot with NFL star Emmitt Smith, but that one ended without incident. . . San Diego Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn was not able to play in the game because of a foot injury, but said he hopes to be back in the Padres' lineup by Aug. 1. . . . The Atlanta Braves are the first team in history to send four pitchers to the All-Star Game; last night's starter John Smoltz, plus Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Mark Wohlers. . . . Chicago Cubs pitcher Steve Trachsel is the sixth player in history to start the year in the minors, then play in the major-league All-Star Game.
Pub Date: 7/10/96