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Strand stargazing: Rocket Wheeler plans to let talent manage itself in All-Star Game

With a bevy of talent at his disposal and an unfamiliar opponent, Myrtle Beach Pelicans manager Rocket Wheeler has a simple approach for tonight's 14th California-Carolina League All-Star Game at BB&T Coastal Field.

"You throw the guys out there and let them play," said Wheeler, who heads a Pelicans staff selected to coach the Carolina League all stars. "We've got speed and power. We've got a little bit of both, so it will be exciting to see."

The Carolina League has won six of the 13 previous games, the California League has won five and there have been two 10-inning ties. The California League is coming off a 2-1 win last year in Lake Elsinore, Calif., and the teams have alternated wins for the past four years.

Wheeler said he'll meet with pitching coach Kent Willis today to set up a game plan for the pitching staff.

He knows Kinston lefthander T.J. McFarland will start for the Carolina League. McFarland is 7-2 with a 1.98 earned-run average, 51 strikeouts and 15 walks in 722/3 innings this season.

Getting the starting nod for the California League is 6-foot-4 right-hander Craig Westcott of the San Jose Giants, who is 5-0 with a 1.55 ERA, 48 strikeouts and 31 walks in 632/3 innings. Westcott hasn't lost as a professional, going 12-0 with three teams over the past two years.

The Pelicans have three right-handed starting pitchers on the roster. Although Randall Delgado pitched Sunday and J.J. Hoover threw Saturday, 19-year-old phenom Julio Teheran has five days of rest since his last start on Wednesday and could follow McFarland in the pitching rotation tonight.

Wheeler said no Carolina League pitcher will throw more than two innings. "Two innings will be the max for the pitchers," Wheeler said. "There's a couple guys whose day it is to pitch, but you don't want to overuse anybody else's pitcher."

Three players have been replaced since the all-star rosters were announced June 10.

For the Carolina League, Winston-Salem Dash hurler Nevin Griffith and Salem Red Sox pitcher Alex Wilson will be unable to compete because of injuries. They have been replaced by Wilmington starter Chris Dwyer and Frederick Keys reliever Jose Duran. For the California League, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes pitcher Tyler Chatwood earned a promotion to Double-A Arkansas and has been replaced by Lake Elsinore Storm pitcher Anthony Bass.

The last time the game was at BB&T Field in 2008, Potomac outfielder Edgardo Baez hit a home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to put the Carolina all-stars ahead. Pelicans shortstop Brandon Hicks added an RBI single to provide an insurance run in a 3-1 win. That game was sellout at the 6,599-person capacity BB&T Field.

According to Pelicans general manager Scott Brown, more than 1,000 tickets are still available for tonight's game. Lower reserved box seats are $15, upper reserved seats are $13, and left-field bleacher seats in the area dubbed the Budweiser Thirst Inning Deck are $11.

The BB&T Field box office opens at 10 a.m. Tickets can also be purchased at myrtlebeachpelicans.com or by calling 843-918-6000.

"We still think we have a shot at a sellout, but if people get down here in the day I think they'll be in good shape to get seats," Brown said.

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