Brewers, Mets headline NL All-Stars
Milwaukee, NY each sending four to Midsummer Classic
The first-place New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers head the list of selections for the National League All-Star team with four representatives apiece for the 78th Midsummer Classic to be played at San Francisco's AT&T Park on July 10.
Three Mets -- center fielder Carlos Beltran, shortstop Jose Reyes and third baseman David Wright -- will be in the starting lineup. Beltran will be starting for the third straight year and Wright will be making his second consecutive start. Closer Billy Wagner also made the team.
Milwaukee's Prince Fielder, the NL leader in home runs with 27, will be starting at first base. Three of his Brewer teammates, including shortstop J.J. Hardy, closer Francisco Cordero and right-hander Ben Sheets will also be making the trip to San Francisco.
"Four guys is pretty good for the Milwaukee Brewers," Hardy said. "I was kind of content with, 'You know, there are great shortstops out there, and if I don't make it, then congratulations to everybody else.' To get voted in like this, it's awesome. It's hard for me to really put into words, because coming into this season, I had no expectations. I just wanted to stay healthy and see what I can do. Now, voted to the All-Star Game, I don't know if it had sunk in yet."
Fielder will become the first Brewer to start a Midsummer Classic since outfielder Jeromy Burnitz replaced an injured Tony Gwynn in 1999. He is the first Brewer voted to the starting lineup since Paul Molitor played at third base in 1988 and the first Brewers first baseman to start since Cecil Cooper in 1982.
The Brewers have not had four All-Star representatives since 1983, when they were the defending American League champions. This year's team entered July with the NL's highest winning percentage (.588) and a 7 1/2-game lead in the NL Central.
The Mets will have a large contingent at the All-Star Game for the second consecutive year.
"I'll be very proud to wear a New York Mets uniform in the All-Star Game again," Wright said. "I'm thankful our fans have given us the chance to represent the club in San Francisco. It will be great to have this kind of representation -- four guys -- for a great event. And I'll be real happy to look to my left and see Jose there this year. I know now disappointed he was last year when he couldn't play [because of injury]."
Reyes will become the first Mets All-Star shortstop since Bud Harrelson (1970 and 1971).
"David and me ... we wanted to go together last year," Reyes said. "We could have had four of us out there [with Beltran and Paul Lo Duca] at the start of the game. We wanted to see all those Mets."
Russell Martin of the Dodgers, who finished first in both the fan and player voting at catcher, will be in the starting lineup, along with Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley, Cincinnati outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. and San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds.
Griffey, who was the players' and fans' choice, garnered more fan votes than any NL player. The 37-year-old surpassed Beltran in the final week of voting. Griffey finished with 2,986,818 votes, with Fielder coming in second overall among NL players with 2,706,020 votes. Beltran finished second among outfielders with 2,511,242 votes.
"It's always special from the fans, especially the players," Griffey said. "They're the guys that are here everyday, day in and day out. For them to pick me is a great honor."
Enjoying a run of mostly good health this season, Griffey has responded by batting .292 with 53 RBIs in 75 games while ranking second in the NL with 22 home runs. Griffey has 585 career homers and is ranked seventh all-time.
"He's had a great first half," Reds manager Jerry Narron, who was relieved of his duties Sunday night, said. "It's nice to see him bounce back and have this kind of year. The big thing with us is to try to get him out there for a full 162 game schedule this year, because he's swinging the bat very well."
The final spot in the NL starting outfield went to Bonds, who edged Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs in the fan balloting.
For Bonds and Griffey, it will be their first All-Star Game since 2004. Griffey has now won 13 All-Star Game elections, more than any active player and the third most all-time behind Cal Ripken Jr. (17) and Rod Carew (15).
Bonds, who will be making his 14th All-Star appearance, has been elected a dozen times, which times him for fourth place with Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.
"I'm at a loss for words," Bonds said, appearing genuinely moved by his rally at the ballot box. "I'm surprised. I thought I played good enough to make the team, but I didn't think I'd start. This is great. I just can't say thanks enough to the fans here in San Francisco."
Bonds, who's five home runs short of tying Hank Aaron's all-time record of 755, was in fourth place when the final voting update was announced last Monday. He trailed Alfonso Soriano of the Chicago Cubs, 1,332,581-1,213,423. In the final vote total, Bonds had 2,325,391 to Soriano's 2,202,513.
"I'm happy for him," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I think it's great for our fans and for baseball. This guy is going to go down as one of the greatest players ever, if not the greatest. To be starting here at home, that's huge."
Bonds, who is batting .304 with 16 homers and 40 RBIs, is looking forward to playing in front of the hometown fans.
"It just means more because I'm at home. This is my town. This is my house. This is the one I'll remember all the time."
There are eight first-time All-Stars among the 31 NL All-Stars identified Sunday by Major League Baseball, including two-time Gold Glove-winning second baseman Orlando Hudson and closer Jose Valverde of Arizona; Fielder and Hardy of Milwaukee; Martin and closer Takashi Saito of the Dodgers and Philadelphia outfielder Aaron Rowand and pitcher Cole Hamels.
"I actually planned on sitting at the sports book at the Red Rock Casino in Vegas watching the Home Run Derby," Rowand said. "But I'll get to sit there on the field now. I'm looking forward to it. I never expected to make an All-Star team, never got my hopes up for it. To be able to be a part of it is a blessing."
The Phillies and Dodgers each have three All-Stars. Last year's All-Star Game starter for the NL, Dodgers right-hander Brad Penny, made the All-Star team for the second year in a row. The 29-year-old Penny (10-1, 2.00) is tied for the league lead in wins and leads the league in ERA.
The 24-year-old Martin, the first Canadian All-Star catcher, entered Sunday's play batting a team-high .297 with nine home runs and a team-high 53 RBIs. He has 15 stolen bases, breaking a 45-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers record for a catcher, previously held by John Roseboro. He leads league catchers in hits, runs scored, RBIs, steals, walks, slugging and on-base percentage and leads the league in game-winning RBIs.
"I'll be like a kid in a candy store," said Martin. "I don't think I'll realize how cool it will be until I get there. I thank the fans who voted for me. I play hard and they gave me recognition by voting for me. It's something I dreamed about as a kid."
Atlanta right-hander and players' choice John Smoltz made the All-Star team for the eighth time and is joined by Braves catcher Brian McCann, who made the team last July.
"I'm going to go to this one like it's my last one," Smoltz said. "I'll take my son and do the same thing I said I was going to do after the first one, when I said I was going to enjoy it."
Albert Pujols, who started each of the last four Midsummer Classics, is the lone representative from the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals to make this year's team. The Washington Nationals' lone representative, Dmitri Young, joins Fielder, Pujols and Chicago's Derrek Lee, the players' choice, in the first basemen pool for NL skipper Tony La Russa.
Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez, who made the team as a third baseman a year ago when he won the NL batting crown, is back on the team, this time at second base.
Florida third baseman Miguel Cabrera, the players' pick at the position, is the only Marlin on the team.
Houston's Carlos Lee and NL batting leader Matt Holliday of Colorado are among the seven NL outfielders on the squad, and both received their spots as players' picks. Lee made the team last year as a Brewer and will be making his third All-Star appearance.
The San Diego Padres had two pitchers make the team through the player vote, including starter Jake Peavy and Trevor Hoffman, the all-time Major League saves leader. Colorado closer Brian Fuentes is an All-Star for the third time.
The Padres (Chris Young), Diamondbacks (Brandon Webb), Astros (Roy Oswalt), Cubs (Carlos Zambrano) and Pirates (Tom Gorzelanny) have a chance to send one more representative to the All-Star Game if their pitcher is selected online by the fans through the Final Vote process.
Now in its sixth year, the Monster.com 2007 All-Star Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Chevrolet, and continues until 6 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 5. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
There are two ways for fans to vote for the 2007 All-Star Final Vote -- online now at MLB.com, or on-the-go from their cell phones. Fans also can text the word "VOTE" to 36197 to have the All-Star Final Vote candidates sent to your phone. To vote for a specific player, simply reply with your choice. Whether celebrating the Fourth of July or Canada Day, fans will have the freedom to vote from wherever they are. Standard rate text messaging fees apply -- please check with your mobile carrier for details. Fans can get the mobile ballot now. In Canada, fans should text the word "VOTE" to 88555.
The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the Monster 2007 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com.
The 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.