NEW YORK _ The starting pitchers for Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium will represent a pair of comeback stories as Indians left-hander Cliff Lee starts for the American League against the National League’s Ben Sheets of the Brewers.
Lee began last season on the disabled list with a pulled muscle in his side then spent a large part of the second half at Class AAA Buffalo after being banished to the minor leagues because of ineffectiveness. Sheets, meanwhile, missed time each of the last three seasons while on the DL, making a combined 63 starts during period.
However, both are healthy and pitching well this season. Lee leads the American League with a 4.6 SNLVAR and is 12-2 with a 2.31 ERA in 18 starts while Sheets is fourth in the NL with 4.3 SNLVAR behind the Reds’ Edinson Volquez, the Phillies’ Cole Hamels and the Diamondbacks’ Dan Haren while going 10-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 18 starts.
“Sometimes going through failure makes you a better player in the long run,” Lee said Monday during a press conference to announce the starting lineups. “I think that’s the case with me. It gave me a little motivation to go into the offseason to work a little harder to make sure I did everything I could not to get injured in spring training and give myself a chance to out and compete and prove that I could pitch the way I have in the past. Fortunately, it’s kind of worked out that way.”
While Sheets never hit the depths that Lee did, he is also happy to be healthy this season. Like Lee, Sheets will be starting his first All-Star Game.
“It’s really been a great year so far and getting a chance to start in an All-Star Game makes it that much better,” Sheets said. “I’d like to use this as kind of springboard towards a good second half as well.”
Sheets will be face this AL lineup: right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners), shortstop Derek Jeter (Yankees), center fielder Josh Hamilton (Rangers), third baseman Alex Rodriguez (Yankees), left fielder Manny Ramirez (Red Sox), designated hitter Milton Bradley (Rangers), first baseman Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox), catcher Joe Mauer (Twins) and second baseman Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox).
The NL lineup will look like this: shortstop Hanley Ramirez (Marlins), second baseman Chase Utley (Phillies), first baseman Lance Berkman (Astros), designated hitter Albert Pujols (Cardinals), third baseman Chipper Jones (Braves), right fielder Matt Holliday (Rockies), left fielder Ryan Braun (Brewers), center fielder Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs), catcher Geovany Soto (Cubs).