Duchscherer earns All-Star double
Athletics right-hander named to 2008 Midsummer Classic
Hall of Famers Hoyt Wilhelm, Dennis Eckersley and Goose Gossage did it. So did John Smoltz, who'll likely land in Cooperstown, too.
Now you can add Oakland right-hander Justin Duchscherer to the short list of pitchers who have made at least one All-Star Game as a reliever and another as a starter.
Duchscherer, who made the 2005 American League squad as a setup man for the A's but was moved into the starting rotation this season, was rewarded for his stellar first half on Sunday when he was named as Oakland's lone representative for the 2008 Midsummer Classic.
"I hope I get to pitch this time. Last time, I didn't get [into the game]," Duchscherer said after the A's lost to the host White Sox on Sunday afternoon. "Personal accolades are nice, but obviously I want the team to win here."
Duchscherer also vowed to do a better job of enjoying the spoils of All-Stardom.
"The first time was a whirlwind," he said. "It was sun up to sun down, doing something -- signings, media sessions, Home Run Derby, all that stuff. I'm going to try and slow down a little bit and take it all in."
Duchscherer, 30, will be going for his 10th win of the season against four losses on Wednesday when he takes on the visiting Mariners. His 1.96 ERA over 14 starts is the lowest in the AL.
"He deserves a spot on the All-Star team for what he's done," A's manager Bob Geren said Saturday in Chicago, where Duchscherer beat the AL Central-leading White Sox on Friday night. "I don't know how many people have made it as a reliever and made it as a starter, but ... it's quite an accomplishment. It really is two different jobs."
Derek Lowe and Bob Stanley also have been All-Stars in both roles.
The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. PT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
Duchscherer, who made a handful of starts after being called up to Oakland for the first time late in the 2003 season, was used exclusively out of the bullpen for the subsequent four seasons. His 2005 All-Star selection was based on his 1.49 ERA in 35 appearances before the break, and he finished that year 7-4 with a 2.21 ERA in 67 games.
In 2006, subbing occasionally for injured closer Huston Street, Duchscherer went 2-1 with a career-high nine saves and a 2.91 ERA in 52 appearances.
During his days in the bullpen, Duchscherer frequently -- but quietly -- lobbied Oakland managers Ken Macha (2004-06) and Geren (2007-present) for a return to the rotation. He was a standout starter in the Minor Leagues, winning Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year honors in 2003 after going 14-2 with a 3.35 ERA for the Geren-managed Triple-A Sacramento River Cats.
"It's no surprise to me what he's doing," Geren said last week. "I've seen all of this before."
Duchscherer, who has been hampered by a variety of injuries over the past several seasons and saw his 2007 campaign end with a hip injury in late May that led to surgery, has long felt that the stable routine of rotation work would help him stay healthy. He was placed on the disabled list with a right biceps strain after his first start this season, but since returning, he's been a picture of health and consistency.
He's allowed two earned runs or fewer in all but one start thus far, and since having a post-DL pitch limit lifted after his second start back, he's pitched into the seventh inning in 10 of 11 assignments.
Duchscherer was one of AL All-Star skipper Terry Francona's six manager's picks.
"Well-deserved -- he's throwing great. We couldn't ask any more of him," said A's first baseman Daric Barton. "Obviously, with the sub-2.00 ERA, we're always in the game when he's pitching."
It marks the fourth straight season in which Oakland has one All-Star. Right-hander Rich Harden, who suffered his first loss in 13 starts on Sunday, is 5-1 with a 2.34 ERA.
"I was hoping [Harden would go, too], but sometimes it seems the market you play in dictates if you get voted in," Duchscherer said. "It's tough that he didn't. He's definitely deserving."
Harden insisted he wasn't bothered by being left off the AL squad.
"Not really, no," Harden said. "I think Justin was the guy who deserved to go, and that's it. That's fine. I'll take my four days off. It's a good time to go relax a little bit and come back ready to go in the second half."
Harden also lobbied for Duchscherer to get the starting assignment.
"I think he deserves to be starting that game," Harden said. "Have they announced what they're going to do? Cliff Lee, is it? I guess he's pretty good, too."
The New York Post reported Sunday that Cleveland's Lee will get the start, but the newspaper didn't credit any sources for its report, and Francona has made no such announcement. The starting pitchers for each league officially will be announced on July 14 in New York.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.