Pregame: Correia an All-Star, too?


CorreiaRight-hander Kevin Correia brought a packed suitcase to PNC Park this morning and has a plane ticket to Phoenix. All he needs is an official bid to the All-Star Game, and it looks like he’ll get one.

Correia will be added to the National League All-Star roster this afternoon, giving the Pirates three players in the Midseason Classic for the first time since 1990. Correia is expected to replace Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, who is scheduled to start this afternoon against Atlanta. Pitching today would disqualify Hamels from being able to pitch Tuesday in the All-Star Game, as he would not have adequate rest between outings. Hamels’ spot will be filled by the next-highest pitcher on the players’ ballot, which is Correia. “I’m excited,” Correia said. “It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around all that often.”

This will be the first All-Star berth for Correia, who’s in his 10th season. He is 11-7 with a 4.01 ERA and is one win off the major league lead for victories.

Correia will join closer Joel Hanrahan, who was chosen via the players’ ballot, and Andrew McCutchen, who last night was named a replacement for injured outfielder Ryan Braun. Twenty-one years ago, the Pirates had three All-Star reps: Bobby Bonilla, Barry Bonds and Neal Heaton. In 1988, Bonilla, Andy Van Slyke and Bob Walk were named to the NL squad.

»»» Quiz time: Which four players hit their first career homers to give the Pirates the lead in the eighth inning or later? I’ll give you the obvious one: Mike McKenry, who smacked a three-run game-winning Friday. Try to come up with the rest of ‘em before you finish reading the lineups.

»»» If Correia goes to the All-Star Game, manager Clint Hurdle will be forced to adjust the order of his starting rotation for the second half of the season. At the moment, Correia, Paul Maholm and Jeff Karstens (in that order) are slated to start Friday, Saturday and Sunday against the Astros.

»»» Hurdle said Karstens is available to pitch out of the bullpen today, if needed.

»»» Maholm has posted a 2.02 ERA in his first 10 starts this season at PNC Park. He’s been charged with two earned runs or less in five of his past six starts overall.

»»» Reliever Joe Beimel (elbow) will pitch another inning today for Double-A Altoona in his rehab assignment. He is expected to be activated off the disabled list and be active for the first game after the All-Star break. Also, infielder Steve Pearce (strained calf) is set to play today in a Gulf Coast League game.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

Cubs (37-54) – 1. Reed Johnson rf, 2. Starlin Castro ss, 3. Aramis Ramirez 3b, 4. Jeff Baker 1b, 5. Geovany Soto c, 6. Marlon Byrd cf, 7. Alfonso Soriano lf, 8. Darwin Barney sb, 9. Ramon Ortiz rhp (0-1, 3.00)

Pirates (46-43) – 1. Alex Presley lf, 2. Chase d’Arnaud ss, 3. Neil Walker 2b, 4. Andrew McCutchen cf, 5. Lyle Overbay 1b, 6. Matt Diaz rf, 7. Josh Harrison 3b, 8. Mike McKenry c, 9. Paul Maholm lhp (5-9, 3.08)

»»» Quiz answers: Neil Walker ( two-run homer in eighth inning on June 1, 2010), Kevin Young (two-run homer in eighth on April 9, 1993) and pitcher Jeff Robinson (solo shot in the ninth on Sept. 9, 1987).