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Published: Wednesday, 7/12/2006

Sanchez brings along 4 from game at PNC

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
World manager Ferguson Jenkins, right, talks with All-Star Futures Game starter Humberto Sanchez of the Mud Hens. World manager Ferguson Jenkins, right, talks with All-Star Futures Game starter Humberto Sanchez of the Mud Hens.
GENE J. PUSKAR / AP Enlarge

Since yesterday was Tuesday, Mud Hens pitcher Humberto Sanchez knew he was in Toledo.

Sanchez has been on a whirlwind tour of the Midwest since leaving his teammates in Indianapolis Saturday and flying to Pittsburgh, where he was the starter for the World Team in the Futures Game played at PNC Park in conjunction with Major League Baseball's All-Star Game.

Sanchez, who joined several Toledo teammates in signing autographs at the ProMedica Health System Fan Fest at the SeaGate Centre yesterday, said participating in the Futures Game was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"You're playing with and against the cream of the crop in the minor leagues [at the Futures Game]," Sanchez said. "It's unbelievable to be on a big-league stage with all of those guys."

While Sanchez is not playing in today's ProMedica Health Systems All-Star Game at Fifth Third Field, Round Rock pitcher Jason Hirsh is one of four players who will participate in both games. Hirsh started for the United States team in the Futures Game.

"It was kind of a blur," Hirsh said of his start. "I tried not to think about it being a big stadium and who I was pitching against. I just tried to throw strikes and stay ahead of hitters.

"[The Triple-A All-Star Game] is not a lot of stress, except that you sign a lot of autographs. It's a lot of fun."

Two of the Pacific Coast League's starting infielders, shortstop Stephen Drew and second baseman Howie Kendrick, also participated in the Futures Game. Both said there was no doubt they would participate in both.

"Everybody loves the days off, but fans and people around the league vote for you to attend this game so I feel I owe it to them to be a part of this," Kendrick said. "I'm happy to be here, and I hope to put on a show for the fans who have come to see me."

The fourth participant in both games is Charlotte's Josh Fields, who met his family and girlfriend in Pittsburgh and drove with them to Toledo as a sort of family vacation.

"It's exciting just to be nominated for both," Fields said. "Playing in them is definitely an honor. I may be a little tired at the end of this run, but it's worth it."

MUD HENS MOVES: The Mud Hens will make a move to bolster their catching corps when they return to action tomorrow.

Catcher Mike Rabelo will be promoted from Double-A Erie to take the place of Max St-Pierre, who will go on the disabled list with a rib injury. Rabelo hit .277 in 62 games for the SeaWolves with six homers and 28 RBIs.

Rabelo is playing in the Eastern League All-Star Game today in Altoona, Pa., and will fly to Scranton to join the team tomorrow.

Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said he does not know when infielder Mike Hessman will return to the team. Hessman left during the recent road trip to be with his father, who was involved in a four-wheeler accident.

WRITERS CRAMP: Among the items for the All-Stars to sign are 10 dozen baseballs, six bats, three visitor's jerseys and three home jerseys, a base with a Mud Hens' logo and a sign with the logo for the event.

Participants in Monday's ProMedica Health System Home Run Derby also were asked to sign four seats with All-Star Game logos and another dozen baseballs.

TICKET SITUATION: Fewer than 200 $15 standing-room-only tickets remain for tonight's contest.

The team also has $5 "block party" tickets available. Those tickets, while not providing access to the ballpark, will allow fans to watch the game from behind the left-field fence on Monroe Street.

Monroe is closed between Superior and St. Clair streets.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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