All-Star game to have 29 first-timers
NEW YORK (AP) — Some of baseball’s biggest stars aren’t All-Stars this year.
Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez missed the cut for the July 15 game in Chicago.
Instead, Hideki Matsui, Albert Pujols and Carlos Delgado were among the new faces picked Sunday by fans.
Twenty-nine of the 63 players were first-time All-Stars, including 40-year-old pitcher Jamie Moyer. It was the most first-timers since 30 were chosen for the 1988 game in Cincinnati.
Also among the first-timers were Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Hank Blalock, Mark Mulder and Vernon Wells.
And the fresh faces aren’t the only thing giving the All-Star game a new look. Following last year’s messy 7-7, 11-inning tie in Milwaukee, baseball decided to give the league that wins the game home-field advantage in the World Series.
”In the past, the game has been an afterthought,” seven-time All-Star Alex Rodriguez said. ”A lot of times, by the sixth or seventh inning, the guys were showered, packed up and on their way back home. Hopefully, this year, the fans are going to get a much better game with a lot more intensity.”
Players, managers and coaches also had a say in the teams for the first time since 1969, and rosters were expanded from 30 to 32 per league.
Seven players were picked for their first All-Star starts, including Marcus Giles, Troy Glaus, Javy Lopez and Edgar Renteria. Two Boone brothers — Cincinnati’s Aaron and Seattle’s Bret — also were picked for the game.
Sosa, who had been on the last five NL All-Star teams and six overall, was second among NL outfielders in totals released last Tuesday with 894,156 votes, trailing Barry Bonds (1,157,384) and ahead of Gary Sheffield (811,239) and Albert Pujols (793,109).
But after the final rush of voting, Pujols led with 2,030,702, followed by Bonds (1,919,116), Sheffield (1,533,278) and Sosa (1,390,355).
”Sometimes when this kind of situation happens, it happens for a reason,” Sosa said. ”I’m very happy for him. … I’ll be there next year.”
Pujols had a hard time believing it.
”I was shocked because I finished fourth in the voting coming into today,” he said.
NL manager Dusty Baker, Sosa’s manager on the Cubs, decided to bypass his top star.
”Since Sammy wasn’t voted by the players or by the fans … I think it might be a good idea that Sammy use this break and go underground,” Baker said.
None of the big milestone players made it: Clemens got his 300th win and 4,000th strikeout, and Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro hit their 500th homers.
”Making those kinds of considerations is one of the hardest parts of doing this,” AL manager Mike Scioscia said when asked why he bypassed Clemens, Martinez and David Wells. ”I think what we have is a pretty good representation for the league. It doesn’t mean they aren’t good.”
Several big names won’t be at the game because of injuries — Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Mike Piazza, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman.
Also not selected were slumping stars — Derek Jeter, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and reigning AL MVP Miguel Tejada.
Elected to start in the AL were Delgado at first, Alfonso Soriano at second, Rodiguez at shortstop, Glaus at third, Jorge Posada at catcher, Edgar Martinez at designated hitter, and Ichiro Suzuki, Manny Ramirez and Matsui in the outfield.
Matsui was a nine-time All-Star in Japan.
”It certainly is different than the others because it’s a different country. It will be a lasting memory,” he said through an interpreter.
Two of the three AL starting outfielders are from Japan.
”I met Mr. Matsui when I was 17 and in high school. I don’t think either of us could have imagined being on the same field at the All-Star game,” said Seattle’s Suzuki. ”It’s very significant and meaningful.”
NL starters are Todd Helton at first, Giles at second, Renteria at shortstop, Scott Rolen at third, Lopez at catcher, and Pujols, Bonds and Sheffield in the outfield. Bonds will be going to his 12th All-Star game, his 10th as an elected starter.
Making the NL team as reserves in the new player vote were Jim Edmonds, Rafael Furcal, Andruw Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Mike Lowell, Richie Sexson, Jose Vidro and Preston Wilson.
Kevin Brown, Shawn Chacon, Prior, Woody Williams and Jason Schmidt were elected as starting pitchers, and John Smoltz, Eric Gagne and Billy Wagner were elected as relievers.
AL players elected reserves were Garret Anderson, Hank Blalock, Bret Boone, Nomar Garciaparra, Ramon Hernandez, Melvin Mora, Mike Sweeney and Wells.
Esteban Loaiza, Roy Halladay, Moyer, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito were elected as AL starting pitchers, and Brendan Donnelly, Keith Foulke and Eddie Guardado were elected as relievers.
”I still don’t believe I’ve been chosen,” Moyer said. ”It’s because of a lot of hard work that I’ve been able to be competitive at the age of 40 and beyond.”
Loaiza began the year as a non-roster invitee to spring training.
”I’m still in shock,” he said after his Chicago White Sox played Tampa Bay. ”During the game, I was telling some of the guys: ‘I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it.”’
Donnelly, a 31-year-old rookie last year, was a replacement player for Cincinnati in 1995. He received 128 votes from players, second among relievers behind Guardado (141).
”I never thought I’d be a major league pitcher, let alone a major league All-Star,” he said. ”To be voted in by the players is unbelievable. To earn their respect is very special to me.”
Scioscia and Baker picked remaining players in conjunction with the commissioner’s office.
Chacon, who is on the disabled list, already has been replaced by Wood. Sweeney, also on the DL, has not yet been replaced.
Jason Giambi and Jason Varitek weren’t selected but are among five players who can get the final AL spot in Internet voting, joined by Eric Byrnes, Bengie Molina and Frank Thomas.
Competing for the final NL spot are Orlando Cabrera, Luis Castillo, Geoff Jenkins, Corey Patterson and Benito Santiago. Voting runs until 6 p.m. EDT Wednesday.
Other tough omissions included Milton Bradley, Florida’s Alex Gonzalez, Corey Koskie, Gil Meche, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, Ivan Rodriguez, Jim Thome and Dontrelle Willis.
Atlanta led the NL with seven players and St. Louis had five. Seattle had the most AL players with five, one more than Oakland. Three players each are starting from the Yankees and Cardinals.