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Marmol replaces Wood on NL All-Stars

Marmol replaces Wood on NL All-Stars

CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Carlos Marmol was named to the National League All-Star team to replace teammate Kerry Wood, who cannot pitch because of a blister on his pitching hand.

Marmol was selected because he was the relief pitcher who received the next highest vote total on the player ballot, NL All-Star manager Clint Hurdle said.

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"I don't know how this happened, but they told me the players voted for me," Marmol said. "I was surprised."

Before Sunday's game, Cubs manager Lou Piniella said the right-hander was going to get a "nice little rest" during the All-Star break, and that should help him get back on track. On Saturday, Marmol gave up five runs on five hits and one walk, and hit a batter in the ninth inning as the San Francisco Giants rallied to tie the Cubs, 7-7. The Cubs won in the 11th on Reed Johnson's RBI single.

Instead, Marmol gets a trip to Yankee Stadium.

"Look at him -- I think it will be good for him," Piniella said of the All-Star selection. "It's good for his confidence, good for his psyche. ... You know, outside of a couple bad performances, for the most part he's been nails. I'm happy for him and it's deserved."

Asked if Piniella wanted Marmol to pitch in Tuesday's game, or take advantage of the time off, the Cubs manager deferred to Hurdle.

"We'll see," Piniella said. "Hurdle will make that decision, as far as getting him in the game or not. But I think the experience will be great for him and you can take a look at the look on his face. He's happy, and we're happy for him."

The addition of Marmol raises the number of Cubs selected to the game to a franchise-record eight. That doesn't include Piniella, who also is going as a coach on Hurdle's staff.

Despite Saturday's game, Piniella said he hasn't lost confidence in Marmol, who led the National League in inherited runners stranded last year.

"We'll use him the same way we've used him," Piniella said about his second-half plans for the right-hander. "We'll pitch him short. He'll be fine."

Marmol was excited at the news and had already gotten over Saturday's debacle.

"It [the confidence] is going to be there," Marmol said. "I'm excited about it. When you're there, you think you're an All-Star."

And what about Saturday?

"It's changed my mind so much," Marmol said. "I already forgot about last night."

The Cubs are the first team since the 2004 New York Yankees to have eight All-Star representatives, and the first National League team to do so since the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates.

All of the Cubs All-Stars, with the exception of Ryan Dempster, who was warming up for Sunday's start, were honored in pregame ceremonies.

Marmol cruised through the first two months of the season, posting a 1.69 ERA in April, and 1.93 ERA in May, but struggled in June and in seven games this month has given up eight earned runs on nine hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings.

Wood, who ranks among the National League leaders with 24 saves in 29 opportunities, has been bothered by the blister for three weeks. He was to see a hand specialist Sunday. Piniella said the problem is that Wood has a "friction blister," but was expected to be ready when the second half resumes Friday.

The right-hander was going to the All-Star Game in New York, his second trip to the event but first as a closer. He was named in 2003 as a starter and has battled back from shoulder problems that limited him to 14 starts from 2005-07 to pitch again this season.

"Of course, I'm disappointed but this is the right decision," Wood said.

The problem started three weeks ago and gradually got worse, he said. It broke in the July 5 game in St. Louis.

"I've got to keep my shoulder going, so I'll be throwing," Wood said about the week ahead, "but I'll probably use more of a changeup grip playing catch to keep my finger off the seam. I soaked it last night and it's getting better."

Wood is the second Cubs player selected who will not be able to participate. Alfonso Soriano, voted to the starting outfield, also cannot play because he's rehabbing from a broken bone in his left hand, suffered June 11.

Carrie Muskat 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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