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Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

July 9, 2010 at 10:08 AM

Cliff Lee could be the next Jeff Shaw

Jeff Shaw was a pretty good relief pitcher from 1990-2001, saving 203 games and winning the National League Rolaids Relief Award in 1997, when he led the league with 42 saves.

He was no Cliff Lee, but it’s looking like Lee could be matching a unique circumstance achieved by Shaw in 1998: Making his first-ever pitching appearance for his new team in the All-Star Game.

In 1998, Shaw was traded by the Reds to the Dodgers on the Saturday before the All-Star Game. (As an aside, it was the first major trade made by the Dodgers new interim GM — Tommy Lasorda, who had replaced the fired Fred Claire. Lasorda sent Dennys Reyes and Paul Konerko to the Reds for Shaw. After the season, the Reds sent Konerko on to the White Sox for Mike Cameron, who was later traded to Seattle, of course, in the package for Ken Griffey Jr.)

Instead of reporting to the Dodgers, which would have been logistically daunting, Shaw went straight to Denver for the All-Star Game at Coors Field. He had been the Reds’ lone selection to the game on the strength of his 23 saves and 1.81 ERA. (Another aside: The Reds came very close to being the only team in recent memory to not have a representative in the All-Star Game because of the trade. But on Sunday before the game, the Cubs’ Sammy Sosa pulled out with a sore shoulder, and Reds’ second baseman Bret Boone was named to replace Sosa).

Shaw wound up donning his new Dodgers uniform and pitching the eighth inning for the NL, giving up three hits (the AL had 19 that year) and one run in the AL’s 13-8 victory.

Here’s an account of the craziness from the Washington Times:

Jeff Shaw wore a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform for the first time last night. Too bad the Dodgers weren’t playing.

The Cincinnati Reds traded their closer to the Dodgers late Saturday, and Shaw was not able to report to his new club before the All-Star festivities began. He flew directly to Denver for last night’s game and wore new teammate Raul Mondesi’s uniform pants along with Gary Sheffield’s blue spikes during the All-Star workout on Monday.

The Dodgers sent his new jersey via courier to Coors Field yesterday morning, and he will join them when play resumes tomorrow.

“I talked to [general manager] Tommy Lasorda 10 minutes after I got traded, and all he said was that he was glad to have me,” Shaw said. “Then I talked to [manager] Glenn Hoffman, and he was like, ‘See you on Thursday.’ It’s amazing. The first time my manager will see me is watching the All-Star Game on television.”

Shaw signed a three-year contract extension with the Reds at the beginning of the season, and the native of nearby Washington Court House, Ohio, figured he’d be pitching at Cinergy Field at least until the next century.

But a poor start led the Reds to launch into a fire sale, one that may even result in franchise player Barry Larkin being shipped to a contender. Lasorda made it clear that he planned to acquire a closer when he took his current position last month, and Shaw was his primary target.

Shaw saved 23 games for the Reds this season to go along with a 1.81 ERA, and only Toronto Blue Jays closer Randy Myers has more saves than him over the past two seasons. But when Lasorda dangled former minor league player of the year Paul Konerko as well as reliever Dennis Reyes, Reds general manager Jim Bowden pounced.

The deal came together so quickly, in fact, that Shaw was pulled out of the dugout during a 4-4 game on Saturday. He showered and was standing in the clubhouse with his agent when a club staffer told him that manager Jack McKeon – apparently unaware the trade had been made – wanted to know if he was available to pitch.

“Available?” Shaw said. “I just got traded.”

“I’ll just tell him you’re unavailable,” said the staffer

This is a little different in that Lee, if and when the trade goes through, will presumably wear the Yankees’ uniform for the next three days in Seattle before leaving for the All-Star Game in Anaheim. But the speculation is that Lee, even if the trade is consummated before his scheduled start (for Seattle) tonight, will not be pitching against the Mariners here out of something of a gentleman’s agreement. It would be awkward for both Lee and the Mariners, and the Yankees are apparently satisfied to get him for the entire second half.

So, indeed, under that scenario, Lee’s pitching debut in a Yankee uniform would likely occur in the All-Star Game, where he could very well be the starting pitcher for the American League.

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