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nice piece on dontrelle


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Willis is people's choice




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Dontrelle Willis isn't above chatting it up with strangers whenever he's out and about in South Florida. But Willis said even he was taken aback by the number of people who called out to him Monday during a shopping trip at Aventura Mall, with many voicing their opinion that he deserved to start the All-Star Game in Detroit next Tuesday.


''It was something else,'' said Willis, one of four Marlins named to the National League team. 'It was weird. They were yelling across the mall, across the food court. They said `You should start.' I just said 'Thank you, I appreciate it.' ''


While Willis has worthy credentials -- a 13-3 record, 1.89 ERA and four shutouts -- the final decision rests with St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who will skipper the NL All-Stars. And La Russa has a handful of candidates to consider for the honor, including Houston's Roger Clemens, Washington's Livan Hernandez, New York's Pedro Martinez, and La Russa's own Chris Carpenter.


From that group, Carpenter has stats that most closely mirror those of Willis': 12-4, 2.60 and three shutouts. Clemens' 1.41 ERA leads the majors, but his 7-3 record pales alongside those of Willis, Carpenter and Hernandez (12-2). Martinez is 9-2 with a 2.74 ERA for the Mets.


Most feel La Russa's decision, which is expected to be announced Monday, will come down to Willis, Carpenter and Clemens. Inside the Marlins' clubhouse, the sentiment is as clear as it was at Aventura Mall: Willis and nobody else.


''No doubt about it,'' Marlins pitcher Ismael Valdez said.


Said pitcher Brian Moehler: ``It's either Clemens or him. Who helps their team more?''


As for Willis, he's sticking with his original opinion that Carpenter deserves the start over everyone because he's one of La Russa's players.


''It's not about who has better numbers,'' Willis said. ``[Carpenter] earned it for [La Russa's] team, and he obviously put his team in a good situation. I'm going there to have a good time.''

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