Future stars enjoy a day of All-Star festivitiesPosted: Sunday July 13, 2003 9:30 PM
CHICAGO (AP) -- When his cousin talks, Denny Bautista listens.
That's because his cousin is Pedro Martinez.
Bautista, a Class AA prospect for the Florida Marlins, pitched one scoreless inning and struck out two in the All-Star Futures Game Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field. The exhibition features some of baseball's best young talent.
The Dominican right-hander features a fastball in the low 90s mph. He is 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA since being called up to Class AA a month ago.
He last spoke to Martinez on July 7 in New York, where Bautista saw the Boston Red Sox ace pitch against the New York Yankees.
"He gave me a couple of pointers," the 20-year-old Bautista said. "He told me not to grip the ball too firm when throwing the changeup."
"We speak on the phone two or three times a week," he said. "He has taught me everything I know."
Easy does it
The All-Star Home Run Derby is a no-pressure event for the Cardinals' Jim Edmonds.
"I don't really pay attention to it too much," he said. "If I was to go home, I don't know if I would sit on the couch to watch it. I would definitely be interested in it, but I wouldn't slow down personally to watch."
Edmonds doesn't consider himself a home run hitter; his best season is 42 in 2000. But this year he's among the major league leaders with 28, his most ever before the break.
"I'll tell you what, if he gets it cranking he'll hit as many as anybody," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.
Edmonds has considerably lower hopes for the Monday night event.
"I don't really care," he said. "I'd be surprised if I hit any, and I'd be surprised if I won. You just never know what's going to happen. I'm going to try to hit some home runs and then go home and go to sleep."
Atlanta slugger Gary Sheffield doesn't expect to do well in the derby, having struggled in it before.
"I'm not good at it. I had a big fat zero," he said. "Everybody is watching you. That's a lot of pressure."
Sheffield isn't surprised that so many players avoid competing in the contest.
"I don't blame them for turning it down, guys get injured, guys don't like to lose their swing, guys are not good batting practice hitters," he said.
Sheffield said he will try to talk Barry Bonds into joining the competition. Bonds recently said he wouldn't take part.
Sheffield decided to join the contest because his wife and his family will be in attendance.
The time is now
Rene Reyes, a 25-year-old first baseman in the Colorado Rockies' organization, is second in batting in the Class AAA Pacific League at .343. And he's eager to get to the next level.
"God willing, I expect to be called up this year," said Reyes, who went 0-for-3 Sunday for the World team in the All-Star Futures Game.
With Todd Helton at first base in Colorado, Reyes probably will have to switch positions if he stays in the Rockies' organization.
He's familiar with the situation: Playing for the Caracas Lions of the Venezuelan Winter League, he repeatedly was benched in favor of others. Reyes was given a regular spot last year and hit .346 in a season shortened by political turmoil.
"I did it in Caracas, that's what I'm capable of. I just need a chance," he said.
In the meantime, he's just happy to be watched on television by family and friends back home in Margarita, Venezuela.
"I'm very happy because my family will see me play in the United States for the first time," he said.
Rich Harden has heard the rumors that he'll soon be called up from Class AAA by the Oakland Athletics.
The 21-year-old Canadian pitcher blushes at being mentioned in the same sentence with the big three Oakland starters: Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson.
"I'd rather not pay too much attention. If it happens, it happens," he said.
Harden started for the World team Sunday and gave up one run. He thinks it won't take too much of an adjustment to face major league batters when he's eventually called up.
"You put these guys on pedestals, but they are human just like everyone else," he said.