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Notes: All-Star logo to be unveiled

Notes: All-Star logo to be unveiled

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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates will have their hands full over the next 11 months preparing for the 2006 All-Star Game, but at least one key aspect of welcoming the baseball world to PNC Park for the next Midsummer Classic is already complete.

The Pirates and Major League Baseball announced Friday that they will unveil the 2006 MLB All-Star Game logo on Tuesday, August 2, at PNC Park, prior to the Bucs' 7:05 p.m. ET game against the San Diego Padres.

Pirates CEO and managing general partner Kevin McClatchy will be joined by Major League Baseball president and COO Bob DuPuy, Pittsburgh mayor Tom Murphy and Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato for a 4:00 p.m. ET news conference. They will be joined at approximately 6:45 p.m. ET by many past and present All-Stars, including Jason Bay, Jack Wilson, Steve Blass, Manny Sanguillen and Kent Tekulve, to unveil a 23-foot by 20-foot logo display in right field.

"The City of Detroit did a great job on this year's MLB All-Star Game," said McClatchy in a team press release. "It's Pittsburgh's turn now, and we're all very excited to welcome Major League Baseball to the best ballpark in America on August 2 and unveil the official logo for the 2006 game."

The logo was designed by renowned local artist Burton Morris, the "official artist of the 2006 MLB All-Star Game," in conjunction with Major League Baseball.

All fans in attendance on August 2 will receive a special memento featuring the 2006 All-Star Game logo.

Welcome to the show: After being named the Pirates' 2004 Minor League Player of the Year last September, Brad Eldred couldn't help but take a look around the big league clubhouse.

"I walked in here last year for the awards and took a peek," said Eldred. "That definitely gave me the motivation to want to get here."

A little more than a year removed from Class A, Eldred earned his first ticket to the big leagues on Friday on the basis of his tremendous power numbers at Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, where he combined to hit 28 home runs and 74 RBIs in 74 games, including 10 home runs and 23 RBIs in his final 13 games with the Indians.

"Now that I am here, I couldn't be happier," said Eldred. "It's awesome."

The 6-foot-5, 268-pound Eldred, nicknamed "Big Country," understands that the hopes of some Bucs fans rest upon his broad shoulders. Eldred believes he's up to the challenge.

"I don't try to put any pressure on myself," said Eldred. "I just try to enjoy it, have fun and take it all in.

"I played at Altoona and had some success there. I played at Indianapolis and had some success there. I just want to go out there and see what I can do."

Eldred, who struggled initially at both Double-A and Triple-A, is aware of the flaws in his game, particularly his propensity to chase pitches out of the zone.

"The biggest thing is working on swinging at strikes," said Eldred. "That's the key, just laying off of bad pitches and taking advantage of the strikes I do get."

And if the trend for slow starts continues in the big leagues?

"I know what it's like to start off slow," said Eldred. "I know it's not that big of a deal because I was able to come on strong later on."

Changing of the guard at first base: Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon wasted no time inserting Eldred into the cleanup spot in the lineup on Friday night against the Rockies.

"We haven't had a cleanup hitter all year. He's probably the closest thing to a legit cleanup hitter, with that type of power. Hopefully, he can run into a few for us," said McClendon.

"He's swinging a hot bat and we've been struggling to score runs. That's the reason we called him up. We want to see what he can do."

Eldred's promotion will significantly cut into the playing time of Daryle Ward, who broke out of an 0-for-30 slump Thursday with two hits and his first RBI since July 3. McClendon stopped short of saying that the two will platoon at first base, and its obvious Eldred will get bulk of the starts.

"I'm not saying Eldred is going to play every day,' said McClendon. "If there are some matchups that are more favorable for Daryle, then [Ward] will be out there.

Ward, the team leader with 53 RBIs, obviously was not pleased to learn that the rookie would be supplanting him in the starting lineup.

"It's tough," said Ward. But what can you do about it? I still have a job to do. I'll just go with that."

"Every hitter goes through a slump," Ward added. "I was feeling like I was getting ready to come out of it. I guess it was too late. I just have to wait for my next opportunity to come."

Perez improving: Injured southpaw Oliver Perez, who has been on the disabled list due to a broken left big toe since June 28, threw from a distance of 120 feet on Friday without any discomfort.

"I feel better," said Perez. "I don't feel any pain in the toe."

Perez will have the toe reexamined on Sunday. If there are no setbacks, he could begin throwing off the mound next week. The final step before Perez can return to the Pirates would be a Minor League rehab assignment, which McClendon hopes would be brief.

"I hope it's just one start," said McClendon. "I'd like to have him starting here. But he's got to go out and get the rust off."

Say, 'Cheese!' The Pirates posed for their annual team photo Friday.

Interestingly, Kip Wells was the starting pitcher on photo day for the second straight year. Unlike last season, however, when Wells skipped the shoot in response to what he felt were disparaging comments made by GM Dave Littlefield against some teammates, Wells took part in the photo session on Friday.

On deck: The Pirates and Colorado Rockies will continue their four-game set on Saturday night at PNC Park. Bucs lefty Dave Williams (7-7, 4.53 ERA) will go in search of his team-leading eighth win against Rockies right-hander Byung-Hyun Kim (2-7, 5.25 ERA).

Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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