More important, after batting Wilkerson mostly seventh and eighth the first two months of the season, manager Frank Robinson was impressed with the rookie's ability to work the count and hit to all fields. That led Robinson to the move Wilkerson to the top of the order. Says Robinson, " Wilkerson's the one who got this team going in the right direction."
A First Half To Forget
The All-Star break couldn't come soon enough for three veteran pitchers who have struggled mightily this season.
? Chan Ho Park, Rangers (3-4, 8.01 ERA). Last December the righthander signed a five-year, $65 million deal and was expected to become the team's ace. Instead, sidelined by a strained right hamstring, he had made only 11 starts and allowed at least five earned runs in seven of them. Park, 29, says he is healthy now, but in his last outing he allowed five earned runs in 6? innings.
? Livan Hernandez, Giants (6-10, 4.94). Hernandez skidded off the tracks after a 4-0 start. The 27-year-old righthander, who became the first San Francisco pitcher to lose 10 games before the All-Star break two years in a row, has lost significant velocity on his fastball—and a good deal of his confidence.
? Denny Neagle, Rockies (4-6, 6.06). A year and a half into a five-year, $51.5 million contract, the veteran lefthander has unraveled, too often leaving pitches out over the plate. In his last start, on July 2, he was pounded for 10 runs and 10 hits over two innings in an 18-5 loss to San Francisco. Two days later he was demoted to the bullpen.
Sign of the Week
A Master Card Writer
A Reds fan at Cinergy Field expressed his displeasure with Ken Griffey Jr.—Cincinnati was 7-13 in games Griffey started and 36-25 in games he didn't play-by holding up a sign that read:
4 REDS TICKETS: $30
4 SODAS: $10
4 HOT DOGS: $15
KEN GRIFFEY JR.: WORTHLESS