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07/03/05 7:00 PM ET
Peavy earns first All-Star berth
Hurler eyeing home-field advantage in possible World Series
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- Jake Peavy, named Sunday to the National League All-Star team for the first time, is excited about the prospect of taking the ball from Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and helping his side win. Pitching for the first-place Padres, leaders of the National League West, Peavy has an added incentive in the July 12 Detroit showcase. He'd like to see a World Series in San Diego, complete with home-field advantage courtesy of the NL stars. "Everything I hear about Tony, he wants to win," said Peavy, who realizes La Russa's Cardinals, with the league's best record, have similar motivation. "It'll be a blast. Home field at PETCO Park for the World Series. Let's go win." Peavy, one of the NL's most talented young pitchers at 24, will be well rested. His final start of the first half will come Wednesday in Houston, giving him his regular rest, and then some, when he alights in Detroit. Peavy expressed disappointment that teammates such as starter Adam Eaton and catcher Ramon Hernandez, both on the disabled list with injuries, and reliever Chris Hammond didn't make the squad. Peavy said he'd be sure to get his vote in for Trevor Hoffman in the fans' Final Vote. "This guy's as deserving as anybody, from a career standpoint and also for what he's done this season," Peavy said. "He's come in and saved so many one-run games. I'd love to stand next to Trevor in the All-Star Game and tip my cap. This is a first-place team. I hate that we only have one guy; we need more guys on the team." Hernandez missed by only 16 votes of making it as a reserve on the players' ballot, the Marlins' Paul Lo Duca outpolling him, 313-298. Hernandez is recovering from a sprained left wrist, and Eaton is targeting Sunday in Denver for his next start with a strained tendon in his right middle finger. He injured the finger in Detroit, of all places, on June 15. "Ramon and Adam both getting hurt, that really hurt their chances," Peavy said. "I really feel for Adam. If Adam's healthy, he'd be in." Eaton is 9-2 with a 3.42 ERA in 14 starts. Peavy is 7-2 with a 2.89 ERA going into his 17th start in Houston on Wednesday night. "It's disappointing," Eaton said, "the break in momentum for myself in getting hurt. I have to regain that when I can. It could be a blessing in disguise; maybe I'll be in good shape for the playoffs. "Just being considered for the All-Star team is gratifying. I'm glad they're going with Jake. I'm also happy Trevor's going to have a chance in the fan vote. He definitely deserves to be there." Hoffman, who has pitched four times in the All-Star Game and is third all-time in career saves, said he'd love to be in Detroit as the people's choice. "Deep down, I want to go," Hoffman said. "I feel I've had a first half, like other guys', that's deserving. I guess I have a one-in-five shot." Peavy, who succeeds Mark Loretta as the Padres' All-Star choice, has a gift for leaving strong impressions. After catching Peavy for the first time in one of his most electric performances against the Dodgers -- two hits, no runs, one walk, career-high 13 strikeouts across eight innings -- Robert Fick set aside the tools of ignorance and exhaled. "I feel Jake Peavy is the best pitcher in baseball," Fick said. "He's awesome. He's the whole package." The Peavy package hails from Mobile, Ala., fertile soil for legendary baseball talent. Young Jake grew up hearing about such local heroes as Willie Mays, Satchel Paige, Billy Williams and Ozzie Smith. "People in the South love baseball," Peavy said. "I grew up playing the game right, and that's how I'll teach my sons -- how to respect the game and play it right." Peavy is the reigning Major League ERA champion, having fashioned a 2.27 mark last season while going 15-6. His Cy Young Award and All-Star prospects were ruined by a strained flexor tendon in his right forearm in May that cost him about six starts. The hard-throwing right-hander was on his way to bigger and better things this season when he was hit by an upper respiratory infection on June 1. In a weakened condition, he struggled through four starts before recovering his strength and overpowering stuff against the Dodgers on June 20-- his son Jacob's fourth birthday. Peavy was 2-0 after seven starts, the team's only loss in those starts a 2-1 decision to the Diamondbacks. He reeled off wins in three consecutive starts, including a two-hit shutout at Arizona, before getting hit by the virus. "Jake's a tremendous competitor," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "You know he's going to give you everything he's got every time he goes out there. He has great stuff and excellent command -- and nobody wants to win more than Jake." Padres coach Davey Lopes, former manager of the Brewers, compares Peavy to pitchers he had as teammates with the Dodgers in their '70s and '80s glory days. "Jake's a throwback to those days," Lopes said. "He's vocal, a real leader. He is all about the team. There's nothing selfish or self-centered about Jake. It's rare that you see a starting pitcher, or any pitcher, for that matter, emerge as a team leader, but Jake definitely is a leader here. He's a guy the other players look to. "I'm really happy for him, making the All-Star team. He's the kind of guy you love having represent your team and your city."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.