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July 06. 2011 9:05PM

Kevin Gray's On Baseball: Fasano has All-Star invitation

MANCHESTER -- Sal Fasano spent parts of 11 seasons in the big leagues and never got near the All-Star Game.

“They never had a spot for a backup,” said Fasano, a former catcher, drafted by the Royals in 1993.

At last, the Fisher Cats manager received a call from Major League Baseball to participate in the Midsummer Classic — at least some of it.

Fasano will serve as a coach for the World Team at the XM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday, kicking off three days of events at Chase Field in Arizona. Fisher Cats starter Henderson Alvarez of Venezuela will play for the World Team, managed by former Diamondbacks All-Star Luis Gonzalez. The U.S. Team will be managed by 12-time All-Star Mike Piazza. The 6 p.m. game will be televised on ESPN2 and MLB.TV.

It'll be a busy week for Fasano, who'll also manage in the Northeast Delta Dental Eastern League All-Star Game, hosted by the Fisher Cats on Wednesday. The Fisher Cats manager leaves for Phoenix Saturday and will return Monday afternoon, likely missing three of New Hampshire's games.

“It's a great honor to represent the Blue Jays and all that we've accomplished the last couple years in the minors,” Fasano said. “I'm excited to go with one of our players, which makes it even more special. Hopefully (Alvarez) can go out there and have success and show the world what we have.”

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MLB REHAB: Blue Jays right-hander Casey Janssen arrived to the Northeast Delta Diamond on Wednesday and immediately inquired about buying another food spread for the Fisher Cats. That's a big leaguer for you.

Janssen, who has appeared in 194 games for the Blue Jays, is currently on the MLB disabled list (forearm strain) and will pitch an inning for the Fisher Cats on Saturday night against the Sea Dogs. If all goes well, the 29-year-old will pitch in relief again Monday.

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WELCOME BACK: Four-year Fisher Cats infielder Jonathan Diaz returned to the lineup this week after a tough month recovering from a Las Vegas car accident. Diaz, labeled a “John McDonald clone” by Blue Jays manager John Farrell this season, was batting .297 at Triple-A Las Vegas before the accident.

Diaz and his fiancée were in the back seat of a taxi cab when the vehicle was T-boned by an oncoming car, he said. They were both knocked unconscious and woke up in the hospital, he said. Diaz sustained a concussion and broke some front teeth. His fiancée suffered broken ribs, a ruptured spleen and needed stitches and scalp staples.

“It's been a crazy month and a half. I feel blessed and happy to be playing ball again,” said Diaz, who played second base against the New Britain Rock Cats Wednesday night. “Honestly, with the severity of the accident, I didn't know what was going to happen.”

Diaz, 26, is heading home to Miami for next week's All-Star break. Big plans?

“I'm going to get some new teeth,” he said.


Staff writer Kevin Gray covers pro baseball for the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. His email address is kgray@unionleader.com.


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