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THE good news for Team Puerto Rico is that its starting nine is
so potent it could put up numbers reminiscent of a slow-pitch
softball team's. The bad news for Team Puerto Rico is that its
pitching staff is so weak it, too, could put up numbers
reminiscent of a slow-pitch softball team's. At the plate,
Puerto Rico looks like a major league All-Star team--in fact,
there are eight former All-Stars in the lineup. The second
baseman is Roberto Alomar, whose glove gets him the job over
Baerga, the second-best second baseman in the world, who will
DH. The team is also stocked at catcher, with Rodriguez, Sandy
Alomar Jr. and Lopez. The defending AL batting champion,
Martinez, who was born in New York City but reared in Dorado,
Puerto Rico, is an obvious choice at third. Gonzalez, who
averaged 32.4 home runs over the last five seasons, and Munoz,
who hit .301 with 18 dingers in 1995, provide power; Williams
has quick feet and a quick bat--he hit .350 after the All-Star
break in 1995. On the hill, Hernandez can at times be an
effective closer (32 saves in '95), but he is erratic (he also
blew 10 save opportunities). Navarro is a credible No. 1
starter; Bones, who was an All-Star in 1994 but fell off to
10-12 with a 4.63 ERA last season, is a decent No. 2. Beyond
those two, though, the team would have to rely on Royals
farmhand Ralston, who pitched well in the Caribbean Series in
February but had a 3.56 ERA at Wichita in 1995. Where is Ed
Figueroa when you need him?


COLOR PHOTO: DAVID LIAM KYLEGonzalez (top left) and Sierra (top right) would provide plenty of pop, but only Hernandez could save Puerto Rico's dubious pitching. [Juan Gonzalez]

COLOR PHOTO: RONALD C. MODRA [See caption above--Ruben Sierra]

COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO [See caption above--Roberto Hernandez]