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Originally published July 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 16, 2008 at 12:24 AM

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Notebook | Baseball considering instant replay, ban on maple bats

Major League Baseball continues to move toward a limited use of instant replay and the elimination of maple bats but apparently does not see the need to consider additional netting to protect fans from foul balls and broken bats. Commissioner Bud Selig was asked Tuesday about safety concerns for fans at an All-Star Game news conference.

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball continues to move toward a limited use of instant replay and the elimination of maple bats but apparently does not see the need to consider additional netting to protect fans from foul balls and broken bats.

Commissioner Bud Selig was asked Tuesday about safety concerns for fans in light of an incident Thursday at Wrigley Field. Dominic DiAngi, 7, of Frankfort, suffered a fractured skull and swelling around the brain after being hit with a ball Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly lined into the stands.

"Honestly, that's a problem the game has had for 130 years," Selig said. "But you don't want to do something that obscures the view of the fans, which causes a major problem."

Selig and officials of the players union are awaiting the results of a study on the safety of maple bats, which many have pointed to for the number of broken bats that have been flying toward players, umpires and fans this season.

Selig is strongly considering eliminating the bats, but it is a sensitive issue with players. Many prefer maple to ash and other woods.

"The maple bats safety issue is very real," Selig said. "Putting up [nets] is not a solution. The people the most vulnerable are the ones on the field and in the dugout. That's the problem we should address — what's causing it and what can we do about it."

Historically an opponent of instant replay, Selig has softened his feelings in recent years and seems poised to approve a use of replay on contested home-run calls. A system could be in place by Aug. 1, allowing a trial run before it would be used in the playoffs and World Series.

Close to Ichiro

Baltimore closer George Sherrill took a locker next to his old Seattle teammate Ichiro.

"Ichi asked for me, and I asked for a locker next to him," Sherrill said. "I guess 'cause I'd be the only [Ichiro teammate]. He asked for me. I was his teammate and we had a lot of fun."

Home run buzz

Josh Hamilton's Home Run Derby exploits were still the buzz of the clubhouse before Tuesday's All-Star Game.

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"He's a monster," said Mets third baseman David Wright. "Balls aren't supposed to be hit that far."

Those sentiments were seconded by the eventual derby champion, Justin Morneau of the Twins, who beat out a fatigued Hamilton in the final round.

"I was tired in the second round; I can just imagine how tired he was after hitting 28 in the first round," said Morneau.

More homes were tuned in to the derby than have ever watched the event. The contest on ESPN was seen by nearly 6.2 million households, breaking the record of more than 5.7 million set in 1999, the network said Tuesday.

The 6.4 rating was up 25 percent from last year's 5.1. It was the most-viewed non-NFL program on ESPN since the Florida State-Miami football game Sept. 5, 2006.

Notes

• Former Mariners hitting coach Don Baylor, who has been out of uniform since resigning his Seattle post after the 2005 season, served as a National League honorary coach. NL manager Clint Hurdle offered the post to Baylor out of gratitude for being hired by Baylor as Rockies hitting coach in 1997.

• Yankees owner George Steinbrenner made quite the entrance Tuesday night, waving to the crowd as he rode in on a golf cart before the All-Star Game. The 78-year-old Steinbrenner got a loud ovation when he was introduced during pregame ceremonies. Steinbrenner's cart pulled up near the mound, where he delivered baseballs to Yankees Hall of Famers Goose Gossage, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson for the ceremonial first pitches.

• Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla made three errors Tuesday night to set an All-Star Game record. Uggla entered the game as a replacement for Philadelphia's Chase Utley in the sixth and didn't have a ball hit to him until the 10th inning when he missed Michael Young's leadoff grounder. He made his second miscue one play later, mishandling and easy chance on Carlos Quentin's ground ball. The record error came in the 13th when J.D. Drew's bouncer took a sharp hop and hit off his glove.

• The All-Star Game will be played in 2009 at new Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and in 2010 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

Sheryl Crow sang the national anthem before the game. She hung out on the field beforehand and posed for photographs with Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

• Dodgers manager Joe Torre was back in New York for the All-Star break to host his Safe at Home Foundation's charity golf tournament but he did not attend the game at Yankee Stadium, his baseball home from 1996 to 2007.

• Former Mets manager Willie Randolph accepted Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's invitation to the game. Randolph, a former All-Star second baseman and longtime coach with the Yankees, was fired last month after the Mets got off to an inconsistent start this season.

• The Los Angeles Dodgers said they will be without closer Takashi Saito until at least late August. Saito, 38, was diagnosed with a sprained ligament in his right elbow.

• The Yankees might have to get used to life without Hideki Matsui, because there is a growing possibility that he will need season-ending surgery on his left knee. Matsui, 34, suffered a setback with increased swelling Tuesday.

Seattle Times staff reporter Larry Stone and news services contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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