Brewers: Why no Zack Greinke?
Add the Milwaukee Brewers to the teams disappointed in Tony La Russa's All-Star performance.
La Russa, who will become the second retiree to manage an All-Star team in the game's 79-year history next week, turned Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker into a conspiracy theorist Sunday when three Reds were selected but Johnny Cueto and Brandon Phillips were not among them.
"The comments Dusty made clearly disappoint me and are attacking my integrity," said La Russa, who was allowed to manage the NL squad despite retiring after winning the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals. "The All-Star experience is too important to let anything stand in the way of a decision like that."
But now there are folks in the Brewers' camp who are disappointed right-hander Zack Greinke wasn't chosen and surprised that La Russa said the Milwaukee ace wasn't considered because of his pitching schedule.
The 2009 Cy Young Award winner with the Kansas City Royals is in fact lined up to pitch Saturday, a decision made to actually improve his chances for pitching in the All-Star Game, Brewers sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney on Monday.
The Brewers' staff went to Greinke recently, the sources said, and presented him with some options, including a schedule that would allow him to be in position to pitch next Tuesday in the Midsummer Classic in Kansas City -- where Greinke began his career.
The Brewers, who rallied to beat Miami on Monday despite a subpar outing from Greinke, have only one player going to Kansas City in reserve outfielder Ryan Braun.
Greinke allowed five runs in six innings Monday but did not factor in the decision and still owns a 9-2 record with a 3.08 ERA. He spoke about his All-Star ommission with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, acknowledging that he had hoped to make the team but that he does not feel snubbed.
"I thought, depending on how many relievers made it, I might," Greinke told the Journal Sentinel. "There are so many good starters this year. There's half a dozen that have done just as good as the guys that made it. I can't really complain. The starters this year, it's got to be the best in the last 20 years, maybe 30 years. It's pretty amazing. You can't please everyone."
Greinke also decided not to criticize La Russa.
"I wanted to make the team. It's not an easy job picking them," he told the paper. "There's other guys that have pitched great, too. You can't make everybody happy. No matter who (La Russa) picks, there's going to be arguments. It's kind of like the BCS stuff. No matter what you do, it's going to be bad."
Baker's Reds will be sending three players. But it's two players who weren't selected -- Cueto, a right-hander, and second baseman Phillips -- that had the manager floating a theory stemming from a 2010 brawl with La Russa's Cardinals.
"A snub like that looks bad," Baker told reporters. "Johnny and Brandon were at the center of a skirmish between us and the Cardinals. Some of the Cardinals who aren't there anymore are making some of the selections."
But Baker, in saying he was pleased by the trio's inclusion, on Sunday pointed to the 2010 incident.
"I'm happy for the guys who made it big time, especially for Chapman," Baker said. "You figured that Joey would make it. We knew Jay had an outside chance. You also figured that Johnny Cueto and Brandon Phillips had a great chance. I don't understand that one."
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Cueto leads the Reds with a 9-4 record and a 2.26 ERA, which ranks fourth in the NL. Phillips is batting .285 with 10 homers and 46 RBIs.
This will be La Russa's sixth time managing an All-Star team, three in each league. He agreed to work for commissioner Bud Selig after stepping away.
"If Dusty had been more interested in Cueto being on the team, then he wouldn't be pitching him on Sunday," La Russa said. "Cueto probably would be on the team if he wasn't pitching Sunday."
For his part, Greinke told the Brewers he wanted a chance to pitch in the All-Star Game, and the Milwaukee pitching schedule was arranged so that he would start Monday night and then on Saturday before the All-Star break, rather than on Sunday.
The Brewers did not receive a call from La Russa or others asking about Greinke's pitching schedule, a source told Olney. La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he had been informed that Greinke was scheduled to pitch Sunday before the All-Star break, and that was why he wasn't considered for the NL team.
La Russa spent 16 seasons with St. Louis and managed for 33 seasons overall. He is third on the career list with 2,728 wins, trailing second-place John McGraw by just 35 victories.
"It's kind of difficult to be overly happy today, considering the two guys I thought were shoo-ins aren't going to be on the team," Votto said Sunday of Cueto and Phillips. "That's frustrating. I knew I was going to be an All-Star. I was hoping those two guys, the five of us, would go to Kansas City. As much as I don't want to get into a (debate) right now, as happy as I am for myself and Jay, I'm disappointed for the two guys who are very, very meaningful to this first-place ballclub."
Cueto was suspended for seven games in 2010 for his actions during the brawl, and both Baker and La Russa were suspended two games. The three were also fined undisclosed amounts, while four other players were fined but not suspended.
The first-inning fight happened during a critical series made even more tense by comments from Phillips, who said that he hates the Cardinals. He also called them complainers, using demeaning language that riled St. Louis.
Phillips came to the plate in the bottom of the first inning and gave a friendly tap to Cardinals cather Yadier Molina's shin guard. Molina kicked at the bat, mentioned Phillips' comments and told him not to touch him. The two went face to face, prompting both benches and bullpens to empty.
The scrum escalated into shoving that ended up with several players including Cueto pinned to the backstop screen. Cueto began kicking those around him -- he later said he was afraid and trying to defend himself. La Russa said at the time that backup catcher Jason LaRue suffered a mild concussion and had sore ribs from the incident.
Information from ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and The Associated Press was used in this report.