NEW YORK — New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui and Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki were picked for the American League team as organizers announced the final results of fan votes Sunday for the MLB All-Star game July 15 in Chicago.
Seattle Mariners pitcher Shigetoshi Hasegawa was among players picked by managers of the American and National leagues for the All-Star game.
“As a player there is no greater honor than to be chosen for the All-Star game,” said Matsui. “I don’t mind where I hit in the lineup as long as I’m playing, I will do my best,” he continued.
“I think it is wonderful that we will be standing on the same field together at the same time,” Ichiro said. “Just to think that 13 or 14 years ago, we couldn’t even imagine two Japanese position players appearing together in the All-Star game,” he said.
Hideo Nomo failed to make the roster and has not appeared in an All-Star game since his rookie season in 1995. Pitchers are not chosen through fan balloting in the majors.
Kazuhiro Sasaki, who is on the disabled list with bruised ribs, played in 2001 and 2002 while Hasegawa and Matsui are the fourth and fifth Japanese players to make the All-Star roster.
“Baseball in the last 10 years has changed in both America and Japan,” said Hasegawa. “Starters these days can only pitch until the seventh inning and so middle relievers are becoming essential to the game,” he said.
Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez are out. Jamie Moyer and Brendan Donnelly are in.
Twenty-nine of the 63 players picked 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.
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.”
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 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, 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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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