Out of the doghouse

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- A year ago, Kenny Rogers showed up at the all-star game in Detroit.

Rogers, then a member of the Texas Rangers, heard the whispers "Who invited him?" following him around at Comerica Park.

Rogers wore an American League uniform after going 10-4 with a 2.52 ERA in the first half.

The lefty also had something on his resume no one this side of Dennis Rodman had: He attacked two cameramen during a videotaped tirade and was handed a misdemeanor charge.

Yesterday, Rogers walked into a downtown hotel where the AL players were housed after walking his two spaniel puppies.

No dog this season, Rogers has gone 11-3 with a 3.85 ERA for the Detroit Tigers.

And shortly thereafter, Rogers was named the American League starter by manager Ozzie Guillen in the 77th all-star game tonight at PNC Park.

Guillen's own starter, Jose Contreras, who is 9-0, pitched six innings on Sunday and won't be in the game tonight. Guillen said his other choices to start were Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays, who also pitched on Sunday, and Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins.

Brad Penny of the Los Angeles Dodgers, 10-2 with a 2.91 ERA, will start for the National League.

While Halladay pitched Sunday in Kansas City, Rogers has not worked since Wednesday, when he pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits and four runs in a 10-4 win over the Oakland A's.

"Lots of guys deserve to start, but it was unfortunate they pitched Sunday," Rogers said.

Rogers eventually was given a 13-game suspension for his treatment of the cameramen and promised to attend anger management classes.

"A year ago was very difficult," he said.

"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't hard.

'I CAN LEARN FROM IT'

"I grew up with it and it made me a little better. Every challenge in my life that's come my way, I try to take advantage of anything I can learn from it and try to be better."

The Tigers pitcher will have Jays centre fielder Vernon Wells behind him when he takes the mound. Guillen chose Wells to take the starting outfield spot vacated when Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox had to withdraw because of a sore right knee.

Hometown hero Jason Bay, of Trail, B.C. and the Pittsburgh Pirates will hit fourth for the National League.


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