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Notes: Guillen unsure of pitching plans

Notes: Guillen unsure of pitching plans

PITTSBURGH -- Detroit's Kenny Rogers will start, but after that, American League skipper Ozzie Guillen hasn't decided how he will use the rest of the talented American League pitching staff.

Guillen has so many options he has a lot consider between now and the start of the 77th All-Star Game on Tuesday night at PNC Park. The AL bullpen will be stocked with such talents as Chicago's Bobby Jenks and Mark Buehrle, Toronto's Roy Halladay, Minnesota's Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano, Baltimore's B.J. Ryan, Oakland's Barry Zito, Kansas City's Mark Redman and New York's Mariano Rivera.

Another White Sox pitcher, Jose Contreras, was unable to pitch and was replaced by Liriano on the roster.

"I need to sit down and talk to them and my pitching coach about how many innings, how long they can throw," Guillen said. "I have a couple guys that started the game [Sunday]. I have a couple guys who pitched [Sunday]. We'll see how we're going to work with them.

"Right now, I'm anticipating my relievers, hopefully tomorrow and tonight, we'll have a good idea about how those guys are doing. Bobby Jenks; Contreras, he threw 100 something pitches [Sunday] and was kind of sore. That's why I have to wait today to see how my relievers are going to be."

Central foes agree: AL Central rivals Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota can agree on something -- The division is the toughest in baseball.

"You've got the team with the best record [Detroit] and the World Series winners right behind them and we're playing very good ball right now too," Minnesota's lefty, Santana, said. "Cleveland is good and Kansas City is playing better."

The Tigers are 59-29. The White Sox, 57-31, lead the Major Leagues in runs and have the second-best record in baseball.

The Twins, winners of 22 of 28 and the Royals, 17-13 during that span, played above-.500 baseball over the last month. The Indians have scored more runs than any team in baseball except the White Sox.

"There's no easy series in this division," Chicago outfielder Jermaine Dye said. "The No. 4 or 5 [pitcher] is usually a guy who can win 10 or 15 games and everybody can score. I think it's going to be a battle [in the second half]."

The AL Central has never produced a Wild Card team. Since the league split into three divisions, the AL Central has gone 11 consecutive years without a Wild Card entry. Since playoffs expanded in 1995, the AL Wild Card has come from the East Division eight times and the West on the three other occasions.

This year that streak could be in jeopardy.

"It wouldn't surprise me," Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez said. "To me this is definitely the strongest division, so it wouldn't surprise me at all to see two teams [from the Central] make the the playoffs."

A-Rod says AL better: According to New York third baseman Alex Rodriguez, it's no fluke the American League has won eight of the last nine All-Star Games (the 2002 Midsummer Classic ended in a 7-7 tie).

"I think there's more talent [in the American League]," Rodriguez said. "There's a lot of great players in the National League, but I think there's more in the American League."

Rodriguez's teammate, shortstop Derek Jeter, isn't so sure.

"I wouldn't necessarily agree with that," Jeter said. "The NL has great players too. It [the All-Star Game streak] is just something that happens."

Foes fly together: Pittsburgh's not the easiest Major League city to get to, and several All-Stars from opposing teams hitched rides with each other to get to the game on time.

Tampa Bay ace Scott Kazmir was invited by Yankees shortstop Alex Rodriguez to travel to Pennsylvania aboard A-Rod's private jet, along with Rodriguez and Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

"We had a good talk, a good conversation," Kazmir said of the flight. "About everything and about anything you could think of. It was fun. It was enjoyable to be on the same plane with superstars like A-Rod and Mariano Rivera. Those guys are Hall of Famers. They just kind of gave me a heads-up on what to expect. That was kind of a good way to kick off the All-Star celebration. It was unbelievably cool. I could definitely get used to that. That's definitely the way to fly."

Boston's David Ortiz, Mark Loretta and Jonathan Papelbon hitched a ride with the seven Chicago White Sox heading to Pittsburgh. The White Sox had chartered a jet and when Sunday's game against Boston went 19 innings, Ortiz and Loretta were glad to get a lift to the All-Star Game.

Papelbon not likely to pitch: Boston's super rookie Jonathan Papelbon threw two innings on Sunday and 1 1/3 on Saturday and likely will not be used in the game.

At the most, he will face one batter. Boston GM Theo Epstein and Red Sox manager Terry Francona made it be known to Ozzie Guillen and the AL staff that they prefer Papelbon not be used, though the AL decided not to replace Papelbon on the roster.

"I talked to Ozzie," Papelbon said. "It's been grueling for me lately so I'm not sure if I'm going to throw or not -- probably not."

Matthews a Lone Star star: Texas outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. has found himself to be a mini-celebrity at the All Star Game for one reason.

People have seen over and over again the replay of his catch on July 2, when he leaped up and reached over the fence at Ameriquest Field to steal a home run away from Houston's Mike Lamb.

"Everybody is coming up to me and saying 'I can't believe that catch, that catch was unbelievable!' " Matthews said. "It's flattering, it's not a catch you make every day, it looks more difficult on tape. I remember thinking at the time it wasn't that hard of a catch."

Extra bases: With his ostentatious jeweled sunglasses to complement his World Series ring and other baubles, Boston's Ortiz shone forth in all his brilliance Monday. "I think he has a personal jeweler to go with him on the road," cracked Loretta. Loretta is among Ortiz's biggest fans. "I think I was on base maybe six times last week and every time I got on he drove me in," Loretta said. ... Minnesota's Joe Mauer, the Major Leagues' leading hitter (.378) has quite a fan club in attendance. A whole busload of friends and family made the 15-hour journey from St. Paul to Pittsburgh. "It's like 14 family and two friends," Mauer said. ... Jeter would like to see All-Star rosters expanded. "I know you have to have one representative from each team and I like that, but I think if you're going to do that you should expand the rosters to make sure all the guys who deserve it get on the team," he said.

Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. MLB.com site reporters contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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