All-Star Game features Yankees, D'Backs

MILWAUKEE, June 30 (UPI) -- Seattle Mariners superstar Ichiro Suzuki may have been most popular with the fans, but no one was more popular in their own clubhouses Sunday than managers Bob Brenly of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Joe Torre of the New York Yankees.

In his first season at the helm of the National League squad, Brenly named six players from his defending world champions, including three pitchers, to the 73rd All-Star Game on July 9 in Milwaukee.


Torre, as has become his trademark over the last few seasons, opted to take six Yankees, including his entire starting infield.

Catcher Jorge Posada, first baseman Jason Giambi and second baseman Alfonso Soriano were elected to start and Torre added shortstop Derek Jeter, third baseman Robin Ventura and closer Mariano Rivera.

Representing Arizona will be starting pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. Closer Byung-Hyun Kim was added to the roster by Brenly along with outfielder Luis Gonzalez, backup catcher Damian Miller and reserve infielder Junior Spivey.


"(I picked) Damian for a lot of reasons," Brenly said. "I know he is going to be scrambling to get tickets. Junior is having a great year and deserved to be there. BK (Kim) is as dominating as anyone out there. I don't know where we would be without him."

"I'm happy for everybody," Schilling said. "It's an honor and privilege. I'm just glad I don't have to pick them. I don't want that job."

Joining the trio from the defending AL champions in the starting lineup are shortstop Alex Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers and third baseman Shea Hillenbrand of the Boston Red Sox.

"For myself it's incomprehendable," Hillenbrand said. "I still couldn't imagine being in the position I'm in. It's real gratifying to have the success I've had and continue on."

The American League's starting outfield will consist of Suzuki, who led all vote-getters, Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox and Torii Hunter of the Minnesota Twins.

"I'm a little bit excited knowing that I am going to be in that event again," Suzuki said through an interpreter. "After spending a year and a half here, the vote I got this year is a different type of quality of vote."


"I'm just going to go and have fun," Ramirez said.

The AL squad will boast five multi-dimensional shortstops. Joining Rodriguez and Jeter on the team will be Cleveland's Omar Vizquel, Oakland's Miguel Tejada and Boston's Nomar Garciaparra.

"To get a chance to go is just great," Vizquel said. "Anytime you are on the All-Star team, it's an honor. I'm really excited."

The Philadelphia Phillies, among the most disappointing teams in baseball this season, will have half of the NL's starting infield. Scott Rolen, the object of fans' ire this season, is the starting third baseman and Jimmy Rollins gets the nod at shortstop.

Joining Rolen and Rollins in the infield will be Jose Vidro of the Montreal Expos, who edged Roberto Alomar of the New York Mets in the final week, and Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton.

"I'm definitely excited, very excited," Helton said. "It's a lot of fun. Hopefully, I can go up there and help the team win."

Mets superstar Mike Piazza will be behind the plate for the NL, with Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, Vladimir Guerrero of the Expos and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs comprising the starting outfield.


National League reserves include Giants catcher Benito Santiago, Florida Marlins infielders Luis Castillo and Mike Lowell, Houston Astros outfielder Lance Berkman, Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Shawn Green and Cincinnati Reds Adam Dunn, who was in the minor leagues at this time last year.

"It's kind of different," Santiago said. "I know my first four, the fans picked me. This time, it comes from the coach and the manager, so this is even better. I know I'm going to be on the bench, but they make me feel so good, they make me feel like I'm doing my job. I'll just go over there and have some fun."

Milwaukee fans will have two local players to cheer for as slugging first baseman Richie Sexson and shortstop Jose Hernandez both made the team. They are among 11 first-time All-Stars on the NL team.

Joining the trio of Diamondbacks on the NL pitching staff are Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves, Matt Morris of the St. Louis Cardinals, and Dodgers lefthander Odalis Perez. Brenly went with five closers, including Mike Williams of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres, Atlanta's John Smoltz and Los Angeles' Eric Gagne.


"It's not as big a thrill as the first time," Glavine said. "You always want to be considered the best in the game, and the best way to do that is to make All-Star teams. In that regard, it's a big thrill, but it's not the same as the first one or the second one for that matter. But it's still an exciting time."

"It's a nice reward because we're playing well and I'm only a product of our team playing well," Smoltz added.

It was the first All-Star selection for Kim, Perez, Williams and Gagne.

"I'm honored," Kim said. "I wasn't thinking about it. The fans from Korea will be happy."

American League reserves include Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, Kansas City first baseman Mike Sweeney, Baltimore Orioles third baseman Tony Batista, Anaheim Angels outfielder Garret Anderson, Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Randy Winn and Detroit Tigers outfielder Robert Fick.

Pierzynski, Konerko, Anderson, Winn and Fick made the team for the first time, as did nine AL All-Star teammates.

Boston's vaunted 1-2 punch of Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe was named to the AL pitching staff along with starting pitchers Mark Buehrle of Chicago, Toronto's Roy Halladay and Seattle's Freddy Garcia.


"I'm really happy to go the All-Star Game for the second year in a row," Garcia said. "It's really an honor to be there."

Torre also added Oakland Athletics ace Barry Zito to the team, despite earlier claims he would not consider the talented lefthander, who is scheduled to pitch July 7.

"You can never believe, no offense to you guys (in the media), but you can never believe what you read because I heard there were statements that Torre's not picking me and then there's stuff that has no meaning," Zito said. "As a player, when you hear 20 different opinions, you tend to start throwing it all out and saying none of it's valid because anything that's going to distract me on the field is not worth getting involved with anyways."

Seattle's Kazuhiro Sasaki and Minnesota's Eddie Guardado join Rivera as relievers on the team.

Voting for the starters was conducted at ballparks and online. The online turnout was a record.

This year, fans have an exclusive window to vote for the "30th" player on each squad. Fans can vote online from among the five players Torre and Brenly deem most deserving.


Torre's selections for the final spot include A's third baseman Eric Chavez, White Sox outfielder Magglio Ordonez, Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon and Indians first baseman Jim Thome.

Brenly's choices for the final spot were Braves outfielder Andruw Jones, Pirates outfielder Brian Giles, Padres first baseman-outfielder Ryan Klesko, Rockies outfielder Larry Walker and Cardinals outfielder Albert Pujols.

The final player on each team will be revealed Tuesday.

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