SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Younger isn't always better.
All you have to do is look at the Pacific Coast League all-star roster for tonight's annual Triple-A all-star game to prove that theory.
Three of the PCL's top players - pitcher Kevin Jarvis and infielders Mike Coolbaugh and Rick Short - are 35, 33 and 33, respectively. Not exactly spring chickens in a youth-driven game.
All three bring impressive credentials into tonight's showcase event.
Jarvis, who 34 Major League career wins, is 7-2 with a 3.00 ERA for Memphis. Coolbaugh, who is playing for Round Rock (Astros), is hitting .284 with 19 homers and 68 RBI. Short, who is playing for New Orleans (Nationals), is hitting a robust .380 with eight homers and 46 RBI.
Coolbaugh will bat fourth and start at third base. Short will DH and hit seventh.
You have to wonder what keeps these guys hanging around the game when they have obviously proven they can keep excelling at the Triple-A level and have nothing to prove at that level.
"It's tough to give up something you love and something you can still do," said Short, relaxing in the spacious PCL locker room after batting practice on Tuesday. "If a guy can play, he can play. That should be the bottom line.
"People outside of the game don't realize that it's not performance. You have to be in the right spot at the right time. The organization has to have a need, and you have to be doing well when that happens. There is a lot of luck involved."
Short has been up with the Nationals twice this year, getting a total of four at-bats. He said he didn't get much of a shot in spring training. It's frustrating, but he just keeps chipping away.
Coolbaugh, who is coming off a 30-homer season in 2004, also tries to be politically correct when talking about his career.
"You think you have proven (enough), but apparently I have to prove more," said Coolbaugh, who has 44 Big League games to his credit. "You've got to work on things; try to get better and better.
"There are no spots for corner infielders. (Morgan) Ensberg is a good player having a terrific year and (Lance) Berkman is the player he is. I can't worry about things. I have to concentrate on what I'm doing and what I need to do to get better. I just play as hard as I can. If that's not enough, I know I've done the best I could."
TROLLING FOR TICKETS
Ex-Carson High star Dusty Bergman is on the lookout for tickets to tonight's game.
"We were supposed to have our order in (already), but I didn't know that," said Bergman, who is making his first-ever professional all-star experience. "My girlfriend has one, but that's because she came with me."
So, Bergman is on the lookout for tickets for his mom, stepfather and two uncles.
HEADED TO HAWAII
Columbus' Mitch Jones won the Home Run Derby on Monday night, hitting 29 home runs , including 11 in the final round,to edge Oklahoma City's Ian Kinsler for the crown.
Jones won $250 for his efforts and a round trip for two to Hawaii.
Sacramento's Jimmy Serrano has been replaced by teammate Victor Moreno in tonight's game.
Serrano, who was 8-3 with a 3.91 ERA in 16 starts with the host River Cats, exercised a contract option and became a free egent.
Moreno was 1-0 with a 2.56 ERA. Moreno pitched six games for the Rochester Red Wings last year.
PLAYERS LIKE RALEY
The all-stars enjoy coming to Raley Field for two reasons - the playing field is top-notch and they know the fans will be out full force.
"I like this place," Short said. "It's top shelf. They always put on a good show here."
"It's a great surface," Coolbaugh said. "Also, they are at the top of the league for attendance. They get great support here."
The four-man umpiring crew will be made up of two Pacific Coast League umpires - Adam Dowdy behind the plate and Mark Mauro at second base. International League umpires Troy Fullwood at first and Chad Fairchild at third...The International League has won the last two all-star games, edging the PCL 4-3 last year in Pawtucket and grabbing a wild 13-9 win in Memphis back in 2003... Sacramento manager Tony Defrancesco is managing the PCL. He was walking around the clubhouse with his neck and shoulder wrapped. Apparently sleeping on the plane on the River Cats' recent road trip didn't agree with him.