ARLINGTON, Texas — Josh Hamilton used to run around in the outfield while his older brother's American Legion team in North Carolina took batting practice against volunteer coach Clay Council.

Later as a teenager, Hamilton would have Council throw him batting practice. And now Hamilton will hit against the 71-year-old coach again — on one of the biggest of baseball's stages.

Hamilton, the All-Star starting outfielder from the Texas Rangers, chose Council to be his pitcher for the Home Run Derby on Monday night at Yankee Stadium.

"I've known him for batting practice forever," Hamilton said Saturday. "I talked to him a couple of nights ago, and he's really excited about it."

Council, who lives in Cary, N.C., still throws BP for the town's American Legion team.

The only time Council has been to Yankee Stadium before was for Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, when Don Larsen pitched a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

This time, Council's goal will be to give up as many home runs as possible, and provide Hamilton plenty of fat pitches to hit.

"That's all he's got to do," Hamilton said.

Hamilton said Council was never actually his coach, but threw him a lot of pitches through the years. Hamilton first called Council a few weeks ago about the possibility of taking part in the Home Run Derby.

"He was very surprised," Hamilton said. "Now that it's official, he's got some attention. He knows it's for real now."

CUBS CLOSER WOOD LIKELY OUT OF ALL-STAR GAME: Chicago Cubs closer Kerry Wood expects to sit out the All-Star game because of a blister on his pitching hand.

"We have the opportunity to take six days to let it get better and not deal with it the rest of the year," Wood said Saturday. "It's a little bit disappointing."

Wood still plans to attend All-Star festivities at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. It was unclear whether he'll be replaced on the National League roster because the commissioner's office, as of Saturday night, had yet to be officially notified of Wood's injury.

Wood's blister is on his right index finger, leaving him unavailable Saturday during Chicago's 8-7, 11-inning victory over San Francisco. He pitched on Friday, closing out a 3-1 win over the Giants for his 24th save in 29 opportunities.

"Woody's got a blister and he's not going to pitch at all until after the break," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said after Saturday's game. "We didn't have Wood today at all. He can't pitch Sunday and probably won't be able to pitch in the All-Star game."