Immigration law casts pall on 2011 ASG

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Yovani Gallardo is firm. Even if he's fortunate enough to make the All-Star team again next summer, he'll skip it.

"If the game is in Arizona, I will totally boycott," the Milwaukee Brewers pitcher said Monday.

A year before Phoenix is set to host baseball's big event, the state's new immigration law kept drawing the attention of major leaguers.

Kansas City Royals reliever Joakim Soria said he would support a Latino protest and stay away. Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde can see himself steering clear, too.

"It's a really delicate issue," said Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, who leads the majors with 24 home runs. "Hopefully, there are some changes in the law before then. We have to back up our Latin communities."

"If I do get chosen, I don't know what I'm going to do," he said.

About three dozen protesters held signs Monday one block from the hotel where Major League Baseball held its welcoming news conferences. The demonstrators said they had over 100,000 petitions asking commissioner Bud Selig to move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona.

Another protest was planned outside Angel Stadium before Tuesday night's game.

Selig has not spoken directly on the subject. Asked in May about calls to shift next year's game, he gave a defense of baseball's minority hiring record. Selig did not take questions at Monday's All-Star introductory event.

Arizona's much-debated measure takes effect July 29. The statute requires police, while enforcing other laws, to ask about a person's immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally.

"They could stop me and ask to see my papers," Soria said. "I have to stand with my Latin community on this."

The Mexican-born Gallardo said he's talked with Soria and All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres about the Arizona law.

"We don't agree with it," Gallardo said. St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols said he opposed the law and Valverde called it "dumb."

Several All-Stars avoided the topic.

"That's a political thing," New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano said. "I don't have anything to say about it. They already made a decision. If I say anything it's not going to make any difference."

"Wrong guy," teammate Alex Rodriguez said, pointing to other players in the interview room.

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal said he would wait for guidance from the players' union.

"The game is going on at this point, regardless," said former All-Star Tony Clark, who played for Arizona last season and now works for the union. "Whatever decision an individual player makes, they would have the full support of the union."

The union has already condemned the law and said that if it is not repealed or modified additional steps would be considered.

Oakland Athletics closer Andrew Bailey, whose team holds spring training in Phoenix, said his sport was caught in a crossfire.

"The Arizona Diamondbacks and Major League Baseball had nothing to do with making the Arizona immigration laws," he said. "I know there are discrepancies. Hopefully, things can get resolved."