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IL, PCL set to renew All-Star rivalry

Triple-A bragging rights on the line at Coca-Cola Park
July 14, 2010
The 23rd annual Triple-A All-Star Game should have a "hog heaven" feel.

Not only will the Pacific Coast League All-Stars face off against their foes from the International League on Wednesday at Lehigh Valley's Coca-Cola Park, but three IronPigs will participate in front of their home crowd in a game fans can watch live on MiLB.TV and MLB Network at 7 p.m. ET.

Fans selected Lehigh Valley's Andy Tracy to start at first base, while Scott Mathieson and Towanda, Pa., native Nate Bump will be in the International League bullpen. Lehigh Valley skipper Dave Huppert will assist Durham Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo on the bench along with Frank Kremblas of the Indianapolis Indians. IronPigs third baseman Cody Ransom also was selected but has since been promoted to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Minor League home run leader J.P. Arencibia headlines the PCL squad. The Las Vegas 51s catcher has 25 longballs, 26 doubles and 64 RBIs through 75 games and will be managed by Daren Brown of the Tacoma Rainiers. Erik Bennett of the Salt Lake Bees and Mark Budaska of the Memphis Redbirds are the PCL coaches.

Las Vegas 51s third baseman Jarrett Hoffpauir, who's already hit for the cycle twice this season, anchors an infield that also includes Bees first baseman Mark Trumbo, Fresno Grizzlies second baseman Brock Bond and Iowa Cubs shortstop Darwin Barney.

Major League veteran Jay Gibbons of the Albuquerque Isotopes starts and Matt Miller of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox will flank Reno Aces center fielder Doug Deeds.

Former first-round pick Thomas Diamond (5-3, 2.86 ERA) of the Iowa Cubs gets the start against Charlotte Knights ace Carlos Torres (7-5, 3.38).

Dan Johnson of the Durham Bulls will provide power in the middle of Montoyo's IL lineup. The 30-year-old DH leads the league with 24 homers and 80 RBIs and edged Tracy in a tiebreaker to capture Tuesday's Home Run Derby.

Tracy starts at first base on an infield that includes Louisville Bats second baseman Chris Valaika, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees shortstop Eduardo Nunez and Syracuse Chiefs third baseman Chase Lambin. Jeff Frazier of the Toledo Mud Hens, Jose Constanza of the Columbus Clippers and Dustin Martin of the Rochester Red Wings comprise the outfield.

Erik Kratz of the Indianapolis Indians, the MVP of last year's contest at Portland's PGE Park, gets the start behind the plate. That leaves top Yankees prospect Jesus Montero on a bench that features three of the IL's top hitters in Barbaro Canizares of the Gwinnett Braves, Bubba Bell of the Pawtucket Red Sox and Durham's Elliot Johnson.

Among Brown's reserves are big league veterans Kila Ka'aihue of the Omaha Royals, Hector Luna of the New Orleans Zephyrs and Luis Cruz of the Nashville Sounds.

Starting lineups were selected by fan balloting, but several players already have been promoted and will skip the All-Star Game. They include left-hander Madison Bumgarner (Giants), catcher Buster Posey (Giants), infielder Chris Davis (Rangers), outfielder Michael Brantley (Indians) and right-handers Dan Hudson (White Sox) and Chris Tillman (Orioles).

Prior to 1998, the Triple-A All-Star Game pitted the top players from teams with American League affiliations against their National League counterpars. Under the current format, the PCL and IL each has six victories, with the International League evening the series a year ago.

Former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes and Pro Football Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik are the guests of honor for the event. Holmes threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday's Home Run Derby, and Bednarik will handle the honors Wednesday.

Alex Raskin is a contributor to