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Originally published Saturday, June 25, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Verlander might not be eligible for All-Star Game

The Tigers are facing an interesting dilemma that might confront other teams — including the Mariners — as the All-Star Game approaches.

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The Tigers are facing an interesting dilemma that might confront other teams — including the Mariners — as the All-Star Game approaches.

MLB has a rule that any pitcher who starts on the Sunday before the All-Star Game is ineligible to be on the All-Star team. The idea was to prevent the roster from being clogged with pitchers who can't pitch. Pitchers in that situation can be named to the All-Star team, but they will be replaced by eligible pitchers.

It turns out that Detroit's Justin Verlander, who has had about as good a first half as any pitcher in the American League, if not baseball, is scheduled to pitch that final Sunday, July 10.

Verlander seemed to have been a logical candidate to start for the AL, but now he won't even make the team unless Tigers manager Jim Leyland alters his pitching plans. And he has no intention of doing that.

"We don't run our business for anybody pitching one or two innings — or maybe not pitching at all — in the All-Star Game," Leyland told the Detroit Free Press. "We just can't do business like that."

Verlander told the Free Press he's on board.

"The only thing that is serious is winning games for the Tigers," Verlander said. "Would it be nice to go out there and pitch (in the All-Star Game)? Yes. But what's more important? Obviously, this ... for the Tigers."

In case you're wondering, if the Mariners stay in rotation, their starting pitcher on Sunday, July 10 against the Angels, would be ... Felix Hernandez, a strong All-Star candidate. If, however, the Mariners keep Hernandez on a schedule in which he pitches every fifth day, as they have done at times this season, he would pitch on Saturday, July 9 because of an off-day on June 30. The Sunday pitcher would depend on how manager Eric Wedge adjusts his rotation after the off day.

The Buc stops here

Speaking of the All-Star Game, chances are strong that Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan will be there in Phoenix. He entered the weekend 20 for 20 in saves with a 1.31 earned-run average in 34 games.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, in fact, went so far as to compare Hanrahan to Goose Gossage.

"Joel is a big-bodied guy who rares back and throws," Hurdle told reporters. "If you're the hitter and your foot isn't down by the time he grunts, you're too late to hit the fastball."

Maybe Gossage should be compared to Hanrahan. The Goose averaged 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings in his career. Hanrahan is averaging 10.1 in his, which admittedly has a long way to go to equal Gossage's credentials.

Notes

• The Braves are getting healthy just in time for their interleague series with the Mariners at Safeco Field, beginning Monday.

Atlanta has had seven of the 25 players from its opening-day roster spend time on the disabled list. But just three are there presently, and one, fine young pitcher Tommy Hanson, is scheduled to come off Tuesday to start against the Mariners.

The Braves have had two-thirds of their starting outfield, Jason Heyward and Nate McLouth, return in the last 10 days, as well as starter Brandon Beachy.

• A's second baseman Mark Ellis went on the disabled list with a hamstring injury two weeks ago, and when he came off he had lost his starting job to rookie Jemile Weeks (brother of Rickie).

The San Francisco Chronicle quoted an industry insider saying "there's a very good chance" Ellis would be traded to the Giants. They are looking for a second baseman to replace injured Freddy Sanchez.

Ellis is making it easy for new Oakland manager Bob Melvin to keep playing Weeks, who was hitting .321 after 15 games.

"Jemile is playing too well to take him out," Ellis told the Chronicle. "He's provided a spark. You can't take him out. ... I hope he does well and plays 10 years in Oakland."

• The Angels, as always, are cleaning up in interleague play, having won six of nine games heading into the weekend. It's not the first time National League patsies have benefitted Mike Scioscia's playoff hopes.

After taking two of three from the Marlins in Miami this week (pre-U2 concert), the Angels are 125-82 in interleague play under Scioscia, who took over as manager in 2000. That's the best record in baseball, just ahead of Boston. Their 30-12 record in NL parks since 2007 is also tops.

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