Hurdle discusses All-Star Game plans

Hurdle discusses plans for All-Star Game

NEW YORK -- Playfully arguing with a 10-year-old in the Shea Stadium stands, asking him if he remembered to put his missing front tooth under his pillow, Clint Hurdle unexpectedly received a question in return.

"Who's Marmol?" the kid asked of the Rockies' manager, who recently had Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol and his 4.13 ERA added to his National League All-Star squad in place Kerry Wood because of his rank in the player vote.

"I think he had much better stats when they voted," Hurdle replied. "But what would a fan be if they couldn't second guess the players' vote?"

Wherever he looks, Hurdle is reminded of his duties Tuesday. As the NL's manager in the 79th All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, the former Met answered questions about Marmol, the potential of replacing injured Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez and other plans involving the next couple days.

And, oh yeah, he had a game to manage against the Mets on Sunday night, too.

"Sometimes you only have one job and it's hard," Hurdle said.

These two jobs are a challenge to juggle, because Hurdle is still trying to close out a Colorado first half that has been far below the expectations that arise after a manager is put in charge of the All-Star Game -- going back to the World Series. At fourth place in the NL West, the Rockies are far off the mark.

But Hurdle plans on enjoying this experience, because regardless of the Rockies' circumstances, being a part of the All-Star Game can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. His family has already made the trip to the city, which includes his mother, father, wife and children.

"You never know if you'll do it again," Hurdle said. "There's only one time for it to be the first time."

Hurdle has also made phone calls to his fellow NL managers to see how they would like him to use their players. One of the more recent conversations was with Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker, who cautioned Hurdle that starter Edison Volquez should pitch less than two innings in the Midsummer Classic because the Reds' starter threw 114 pitches in Saturday's start.

Again, in-game decisions will also have an effect on Colorado. Aaron Cook may or may not pitch in the upcoming All-Star Game, and, if so, the Rockies' No. 1 arm will have to wait until the team's third game back to get a start.

Everything is tentative on how the game evolves Tuesday, because Hurdle has definitely made it a priority for the NL to win in what is technically an exhibition. Little League-like rules will not apply, so there are basically no guarantees that everyone will play.

In the part of his pregame speech that has already prepared this week, Hurdle will make that one point abundantly clear.

"The goal of a player is to win a championship. You win [the All-Star Game], it gives you a better opportunity to win a championship," Hurdle said. "That's what I am going to ask the team to be respectful of when we go in that locker room."

Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.