Sports briefs: Hillenbrand finally free

For any general managers looking for a bat — and one that comes cheap — Shea Hillenbrand is looking for a job. The short-time Giant last season was waived by the Los Angeles Angels, who were unable to trade the corner infielder after designating him for assignment June 29. He hit .254 with three homers and 22 RBIs in 53 games with L.A.

Home is where starter is

American League manager Jim Leyland had a tough choice to make when picking a starting pitcher and admitted that geography played a factor in the decision to choose A’s right-hander Dan Haren, who is making his first All-Star appearance. Josh Beckett (Boston Red Sox), John Lackey (Los Angeles Angels), C.C. Sabathia (Cleveland Indians) and Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers) all had dominant first halfs and would have been deserving starters. But Leyland said Haren’s Bay Area ties served as the tiebreaker. “It’s a nice touch that he pitches right across the Bay,” Leyland said. “And that added a little extra incentive for me to pick him. [There’s about five guys] we could have gone with, and if the game was in Cleveland we might have started Sabathia or if it was in Detroit, maybe Verlander.” — Matt Elliser

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