Tue, Jul 13, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Kuo overcomes adversity to become All-Star

Staff Writer, with CNA, LOS ANGELES

A spot on the National League All-Star team is about the last thing Taiwan’s Kuo Hong-chih could have ever expected.

The Los Angeles Dodger left-hander has had his elbow operated on four times, flamed out as a starter and struggled with his control since signing with the Dodgers organization in 1999.

Even this year, with his health and control issues finally straightened out and with stats the great Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera might envy, Kuo did not make the National League All-Star team when it was first announced, but with Atlanta Braves’ rookie phenomenon Jason Heyward unable to take his spot on the team because of injury and Braves reliever Billy Wagner declining an invitation to replace Heyward to rest a sore ankle, National League manager Charlie Manuel finally opted for the Taiwanese set-up man.

He becomes the first player from Taiwan ever to be named on an All-Star team.

“I’m really happy to be selected,” Kuo told Central News Agency after hearing the news before the Dodgers’ game against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, describing it as a great birthday present ahead of his 29th birthday on July 23.

“Although I’m the first Taiwanese to be selected to an All-Star team, I definitely won’t be the last,” he said. “I hope in the future we’ll have the chance to see other players from Taiwan make the squad.”

Kuo is having by far his best season in the Major Leagues since joining the Dodgers in September 2005, with a 3-1 record, 12 holds, two saves and a 0.99 ERA in 26 appearances.

He has struck out 36 batters in 27-and-a-third innings and has managed an obscenely low walks and hits per innings pitched of 0.77.

Kuo told CNA he was in top form and would not do anything outside his normal routine to prepare for the All-Star game, which will be played tonight in Anaheim at the home park of the Dodgers’ local rivals, the Los Angeles Angels.

FUTURES GAME

AP, ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA

Hank Conger hit a three-run homer as the US ended a three-year losing streak in the Major League Baseball Futures Game with a 9-1 win over the World squad on Sunday.

Eric Hosmer doubled among his four hits and drove in two runs for the US in a game showcasing top prospects from all the minor leagues — featuring 50 players representing 10 countries.

The World team committed four errors, twice allowing 18-year-old Los Angeles Angels prospect Mike Trout to reach base. Trout, the youngest player participating, also doubled in the eighth.

Conger’s clout off Henderson Alvarez provided the highlight in an exhibition event that gives most of these young men their first exposure of playing on the big stage in a Major League ballpark.

Conger was picked Most Valuable Player.

US third baseman Mike Moustakas nearly turned a pretty double-play when he lunged to his right and made a backhanded stop of a sharp grounder by Wilin Rosario. The World’s lone run was scored on the play.

The World team had won the past three Futures Games, becoming the first squad to do so in the event’s history. It marked the 12th year the Major Leagues have showed off their rising stars during All-Star week.

Also See: C.C. Sabathia in All-Star form in win

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