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Tommy’s 2-step draws big laughs

L.A.'s Lasorda takes a fall after being hit by bat

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SEATTLE — Tommy Lasorda still knows how to work a crowd.

The showman and former Los Angeles Dodgers manager drew the biggest laughs at Tuesday's All-Star game.

Lasorda got thwacked on the left hip by Vladimir Guerrero's bat barrel, tumbling back as fans gasped and then laughed when they realized he was OK.

"I've coached third base many, many years and never been hit," Lasorda said after the National League's 4-1 loss Tuesday night. "I never saw the bat coming at me. If I has seen that bat coming at me, I would have had all the time in the world to get away from it. I saw the ball go down the right-field line. I was following the ball."

Lasorda, the NL's honorary manager, was in the third-base coaching box in the sixth inning when Guerrero's bat splintered apart on Mike Stanton's pitch. Lasorda tumbled backward, heels over head, then quickly got up.

"I'm not quite as agile as I used to be," he said. "I'll be 74 in a couple months."

When it was clear the Hall of Fame manager was unhurt, Barry Bonds ran out of the NL dugout and tried to put a chest protector on him.

"He went down and everybody held their breath for a second," Tony Gwynn said. "But when we saw him laughing on the ground, then everybody in the dugout started laughing. And I mean really laughing. Because we knew Tommy was going to really ham it up."

IN THE DARK: Whether it was the shadows at twilight or the AL's pitchers, the NL's best hitters looked nothing like that.

A lineup that featured sluggers Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Luis Gonzalez managed only two singles and one double.

"We didn't put any hits together and the guys were not seeing the ball very well in the shadows," NL manager Bobby Valentine said. "They came back complaining about it a little bit."

When Roger Clemens threw the first pitch at 5:41 p.m. PDT, home plate was in the shadows, making it very difficult to see the ball.

Compounding the problem was that the frequent substitutions in the All-Star game make it difficult to get any rhythm.

"When you have one at-bat to adjust, it was a tough thing for the hitters," Valentine said. "And their pitchers made really good pitches."

Sosa admitted to having trouble seeing the ball early, but wasn't dwelling on the bad day at the plate.

"It's nice to come here and do the best you can," he said.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE: There was a bit of Japanese flavor for the All-Star game.

Ichiro Suzuki got the game's first hit, and Kazuhiro Sasaki got the final out for the save.

Cal Ripken's daughter, Rachel, then delivered a postgame message — in Japanese — to the large press contingent that came to watch its country's biggest stars.

"My name is Rachel Ripken. Thank you for my dad," she said in perfect Japanese.

WHOA NELLIE: There were no hard feelings between Joe Torre and Jeff Nelson over this year's All-Star game.

Last year, Nelson criticized Torre — his manager with the New York Yankees — when he was left off the All-Star team.

Nelson departed for Seattle as a free agent after the season when he said the Yankees didn't show enough interest in him. Then when this year's selections first came out, Nelson was again bypassed and again angry.

But Nelson ended up on the team when Yankees closer Mariano Rivera got hurt. And that provided a nice reunion for Nelson and Torre.

"I hugged him," Nelson said. "A lot of emotions. This is something you never ever dream of, especially in your home ballpark."

Nelson said he and Torre get along well despite the flare-ups.

"He gave me the opportunity to win four World Series and picked me for the All-Star team," he said. "We've always had a good relationship, it was the media who said we didn't."

ODDS AND ENDS: Pitchers Curt Schilling, scratched from the start for the NL before the game, and Eric Milton were the only players not to get into the game . . . Roger Clemens became the sixth pitcher to start an All-Star game for two teams, having done it in 1986 for Boston.