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07/14/08 5:55 PM ET

Berkman endorses Sheets as starter

Astros slugger knows Brewers right-hander is a tough draw

NEW YORK -- National League starting first baseman Lance Berkman wasn't all that pleased to find out Indians lefty Cliff Lee will be the starting pitcher for the American League during the All-Star Game Tuesday.

Lee is a lefty, which means the switch-hitting Berkman will have to hit right-handed -- his weaker side.

"I don't want to face any of them, actually," Berkman said, referring to the entire AL pitching staff. "They're here for a reason."

As is Ben Sheets, who received the starting nod on the National League side. If anyone understands the abilities of Sheets, it's Berkman, who has faced the Brewers right-hander several times over the years when the two NL Central rivals meet.

Berkman fully endorsed Sheets as the NL's starter, suggesting that when the righty is on top of his game, "he's all but unhittable."

"The thing I like about Ben is, regardless of what he's got that day, he's a fierce competitor," said Berkman, who is 22-for-67 (.328) with eight doubles, five homers and 18 RBIs lifetime vs. Sheets.

"That's what I look for in a pitcher," Berkman continued. "Anybody can pitch when their stuff is great. It's the guys that really go out there and compete when they really don't have their best stuff. I've faced Ben when he's been really good, and I've faced him when he didn't have his best stuff, and I can tell you, he competes just as hard, if not harder, the days that he's not on as he does when he's on."

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