Sheffield, Kendall mates in name only L.A. combatants share bench, at opposite ends

July 08, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.

DENVER -- Being an All-Star hasn't put Los Angeles outfielder Gary Sheffield in a forgiving mood. Not even close.

Sheffield still is upset over an incident at home plate two weeks ago with Pittsburgh catcher Jason Kendall. The players exchanged heated words after a hard tag by Kendall precipitated a bench-clearing brawl in Los Angeles, and Sheffield has been reminded of it since arriving in Denver as a National League reserve.

"He's the enemy," said Sheffield, who along with Kendall drew a three-game suspension. "I wouldn't walk across the clubhouse to shake his hand."

Kendall can live with that. He's too busy enjoying his second All-Star selection to bother with Sheffield or any lingering resentment.

"In my mind it's over and done with. If it isn't in his mind, I can't change it. It happened in the heat of battle. That's it. It's over with," Kendall said.

L "We really haven't seen each other. We've been pretty busy."

Palmeiro a Rockie?

A New York columnist spoke with Rafael Palmeiro about the possibility of playing for the Mets, one of the teams having interest in the Orioles' first baseman. Palmeiro's oldest son, Patrick, offered his own opinion between bites of an ice cream cone.

"I don't want to go to New York. I want to come here. They have a good stadium," he said.

Patrick sat on the field Monday while Palmeiro took his swings in the home run derby. Asked how many homers his father could hit at Coors Field, Patrick said, "88."

"Come on, man, that's too many," Palmeiro said.

All-Star fitting room

Reliever Jeff Shaw got a special delivery in the NL clubhouse -- his Dodgers uniform.

Shaw was traded by Cincinnati after being chosen for the NL squad for the first time. His new uniform didn't arrive in time for Monday's workout, so he had to borrow Los Angeles outfielder Raul Mondesi's pants and Sheffield's spikes, with assurances from the club that his gear was on its way.

"It got here today and everything fits good," he said. "I put it on and everybody goes, 'Ooh, you look good in blue and white.' It was weird yesterday walking around in my Dodgers cap. Guys were saying, 'Man, I couldn't picture you in a blue hat. I'm used to seeing you in red.'

"I've heard this is a first. Usually you get traded after the All-Star break, not before. The shock still hasn't worn off, but I'm approaching it with an open mind."

Shaw, whose 65 saves over the past two seasons are the second-most behind Randy Myers' 68, celebrated his 32nd birthday yesterday. "My wife asked if she could get me anything and I said, 'Nope, this is enough right here.' "

Gordon 'clicks' as closer

Boston reliever Tom Gordon's first All-Star selection came in his first season as a full-time closer.

Gordon began last year in the Red Sox's starting rotation before moving to the closer's role on Aug. 20. He leads the AL with 25 saves.

"The change helped me," he said. "I wasn't getting burned out by being a starter, but I had gotten to the point where you kind of get tired the two or three days in between. It all became repetitious. I kind of got lost in the game. I was given the chance to do what I always wanted to do, be a closer. It gave me focus. It felt like something clicked again."

It also meant no longer worrying about developing the changeup and slider he was told were necessary to become a starter -- pitches he never felt comfortable throwing. He's back to relying mostly on his fastball and one of the game's best curveballs.

"Those were the pitches that got me to the big leagues," he said.

Hargrove savors moment

This is Mike Hargrove's second time managing the AL All-Stars, the other chance coming in 1996. Unsure if he'll get another opportunity, he was savoring every moment of it.

"You don't know when you're going to be back at this -- if you ever will be back. You enjoy every little bit," he said.

"The first time around it's kind of a blur. The first time I managed anything, it was a little hectic. This time I know what to expect, slow down a little bit. I'm enjoying it a lot more. It's a very enjoyable time for baseball as a whole."

Balance of Yankees power

Hargrove said he wasn't surprised that no Yankees were voted to the starting line despite the club having the best record in baseball. But he didn't look at it as a slight.

"I think it's a big compliment in how well-rounded and well-balanced their team is," he said.

New York's David Wells, last night's American League starting pitcher, referred to the Yankees as "a big family."

"Certainly we don't have any 25-, 30-home run guys. We're doing it fundamentally. It's not just one guy. No guy is taking it upon himself to think they should go out there and be the hero. All 25 guys are heroes on this team," he said.

"We've come together as one so well, better than any team I've ever been on, or better than any team I've seen. We have a good time. Nobody takes anything personal. We just go out and do our job. I'm proud to be part of this team. Hard work pays off. It can happen to anybody at any given time."

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