Omar Infante, all-star utility guy

It came as a surprise to just about everyone when Omar Infante was named an all-star Sunday.
It came as a surprise to just about everyone when Omar Infante was named an all-star Sunday.
Posted: July 06, 2010

From utility guy to all-star

The Phillies' string of sellouts at Citizens Bank Park stretched to 78 games Monday night.

Philadelphia baseball fans no doubt wanted to be the latest to catch a glimpse of Atlanta Braves all-star Omar Infante before he goes to Anaheim, Calif., next week as part of manager Charlie Manuel's National League squad.

Manuel sat on a wooden bench in the Phillies' sauna-like dugout before the game and opened the media session for questions. The leadoff query came from Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitu-tion. She wanted to know why Manuel had made Infante, a Braves utility man, one of the most infamous all-stars of all-time.

After cracking a smile, Manuel provided an honest answer.

"Because we were told that you had to have a utility player on your team," Manuel said.

So why Infante, who went into the series against the Phillies batting .309 with 1 home run and 22 RBIs?

"We went over a bunch of names, and I thought he was the best one on there," Manuel said. "He can play all the infield positions, and he can play all the outfield positions."

"Hard to beat that," Rogers said.

"Sure is," Manuel said.

Predictably, Infante thought Manuel made a tremendous decision.

"I was jumping around with my wife and kid," Infante told "I was so happy. I was shocked and couldn't believe it."

Braves manager Bobby Cox also endorsed the move, telling, "I thought that was the greatest pick ever."

"It was a surprise pick for sure," Cox said. "But it makes all the sense in the world. When I was managing that all-star team in Japan [after the 2000 season], I spent half my time calling other managers asking, 'If I get in a pinch, can I move your player who might be a shortstop to second [base], and stuff like that. Getting a guy like Omar, who can play anywhere, helps."

Not everybody agrees with Manuel and Cox.

Here was one reaction on a Twitter account about the decision: "If the all-star break occurred after 3 weeks of play, and Omar Infante had those numbers, he still shouldn't make the all-star team."

Hot, hot, hot

The game-time temperature Monday was 95 degrees. It was hotter than that during batting practice. So hot, in fact, you could lose your mind.

Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin seemed to do just that at one point during BP when he entered the dugout to get some water from a cooler. At the time, he was carrying a cold bottle of water in his right hand and didn't realize it.

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