Tue, Jul 08, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Lots of newcomers to appear in All-Star game

AP , NEW YORK

Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez are out. Japan's Hideki Matsui, Jamie Moyer and Brendan Donnelly are in.

Twenty-nine of the 63 players picked Sunday for the new-look All-Star game are first-timers. It was the most new All-Stars 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. But there wasn't room for rookies Dontrelle Willis and Rocco Baldelli in the July 15 game in Chicago.

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 sunk

Sosa, who had been on the last five National League All-Star teams and six overall, was second among NL outfielders 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."

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.

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 Carlos 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 of Japan, Manny Ramirez and Hideki Matsui in the outfield. Matsui was a nine-time All-Star in Japan.

Godzilla

All I can say is that it's a great honor to be chosen. It certainly is different than the others because it's a different country," he said Sunday through an interpreter. "It will be a lasting memory."

After a slow start, Matsui has been one of the best players in the league over the past month. Matsui was the AL's top rookie in June, batting .394 with 29 RBIs.

He leads major league rookies with 64 RBIs, and has nine homers and .311 batting average.

"It just so happened that when I started to play well, the voting was going on. It was all just lucky timing," he said.

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.

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