NEW YORK Well before he became a household name, Milwaukee right-hander Ben Sheets began his career in the Brewers organization with Ogden and pitched in two games for the Raptors.
Since then, it is safe to say the career of the Brewers' 1999 first-round pick (10th overall) has made major leaps.
Sheets will make his first-career all-star game start for the National League tonight in the final Major League Baseball All-Star Game to be played in historic Yankee Stadium.
"(I'm) really looking forward to this opportunity to get out there," said the four-time all-star. "It's going to be an honor to be out there. I've never been to Yankee Stadium. I'm just going to take it all in and enjoy it."
When Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle told him he would start, Sheets thought Hurdle was kidding.
No, it wasn't a joke.
"His pedigree speaks for itself as does his resume," Hurdle said. "(He) brings his lunch pail to work every day (and) takes the ball, no nonsense."
In two previous all-star appearances, he has thrown 2 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed two hits and struck out one.
Not counting the tie in 2002, the American League has won the last 11 contests, and Hurdle believes Sheets is the right guy to get the National League off on the right foot in hopes of breaking the losing streak.
"It's a good place for him to start. He gives us volume. He give us power," Hurdle said. "He gives us options off the mound, and I thought this would be an opportunity he would embrace. He's got a lot of energy and a lot of passion, so it was a perfect match for me."
Sheets is 10-3 with a 2.85 ERA for the Brewers, who are in Wild Card contention in the National League, and he will oppose American League starter Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians.
The game begins at 6 p.m. MT and can be seen live on FOX.
"It's going to be an honor to start the game," said Lee, who is making his first start in his first-ever Midsummer Classic. "I am completely baffled and privileged to get that honor. ... Hopefully I can represent the Cleveland Indians and the American League and give our team a chance to win."
Lee is 12-2 with a 2.31 ERA, and his wins lead the American League and are second in all the majors behind Arizona all-star Brandon Webb, who has 13.
"There's a lot of pitchers this year that are having outstanding, not only years but certainly first halves, and none measured up to Cliff's," said Boston and American League skipper Terry Francona. "From the very first start of they year to three days ago he's been the most outstanding starting pitcher in the league."
Sheets will contend against the likes of Seattle's Ichiro, New York's Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, Texas' Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley, Boston's Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia, and Minnesota's Joe Mauer.
Lee will face off against Florida's Hanley Ramirez, Philadelphia's Chase Utley, Houston's Lance Berkman, St. Louis' Atlanta's Chipper Jones, Colorado's Matt Holliday, Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, Chicago's Kosuke Fukudome and Geovanny Soto.