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Francona OK with whatever Rogers decides

NEW YORK -- AL manager Terry Francona said it's up to
Kenny Rogers to decide whether he wants to participate in next week's
All-Star Game.

Rogers was voted onto the AL All-Star team Sunday by his fellow
players, two days after he was suspended for 20 games and fined
$50,000 by baseball commissioner Bud Selig for an angry fit that
sent a television cameraman to a hospital and prompted a police
investigation.

Because the players' association appealed, Rogers cannot be
penalized until Selig hears the appeal and makes a decision. A
hearing has not yet been scheduled for Rogers, who apologized
Wednesday for his actions.

"If he decides to pull out of the All-Star Game, for obvious
reasons, that is something I would certainly respect," Francona
said Thursday during a telephone conference call. "If he decides
to pitch in the All-Star Game, that is something I would also
respect. He's earned that right.

"Is it going to bring some attention that's not completely
positive attention? Yes, I think that's just stating the obvious.
But at the same time, you have to respect what this guy's done and
what's he earned."

At the end of his apology, Rogers said he hadn't yet decided
whether he would go to Detroit for Tuesday's game.

Francona and NL manager Tony La Russa both said they didn't like
that the All-Star Game is being used to decide which team gets
home-field advantage in the World Series, a rule that began in
2003.

"I wish they could have the home field decided by the
regular-season wins," Francona said. "And if that's the case, St.
Louis gets home field last year because of the regular season they
had."

Because the AL won last year's All-Star Game, the World Series
opened in Boston and the Red Sox won in a four-game sweep for their
first title since 1918.

"I don't think that's the way they should decide home field for
the World Series," La Russa said.

But he also understood why commissioner Bud Selig pushed for the
change.

"For a while the emphasis on the home run contest was more than
the game itself, and the game lost a little luster and became kind
of an exhibition," La Russa said. "So when they added home field,
there's a little edge there."

La Russa regretted not having Houston's Morgan Ensberg on the NL
team, and Francona said that if an opening developed on the AL
pitching staff, he would fill it with Matt Clement from his own Red
Sox staff.

Francona also praised the Yankees' Hideki Matsui and Derek
Jeter, who lost out to Chicago's Scott Podsednik in Internet voting
for the last spot on the AL team.

"Derek Jeter, if he's not an All-Star, there's not an
All-Star," Francona said. "That may not be the most popular thing
for a Red Sox manager to say, but this guy is the way baseball is
supposed to be, that's how much respect I have for him."