NL could start Clemens-Piazza battery

Updated: July 9, 2004, 8:09 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Look out Houston, Roger Clemens is set to throw the first pitch of the All-Star game to his nemesis, Mike Piazza.

Clemens was picked for his first NL All-Star team Sunday and Piazza was elected by fans to start the July 13 game, which determines home-field advantage in the World Series.

All-Star Starters
American League
C Ivan Rodriguez, Tigers
1B Jason Giambi, Yankees
2B Alfonso Soriano, Rangers
3B Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
SS Derek Jeter, Yankees
OF Vladimir Guerrero, Angels
OF Manny Ramirez, Red Sox
OF Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners

National League
C Mike Piazza, Mets
1B Albert Pujols, Cardinals
2B Jeff Kent, Astros
3B Scott Rolen, Cardinals
SS Edgar Renteria, Cardinals
OF Barry Bonds, Giants
OF Ken Griffey Jr., Reds
OF Sammy Sosa, Cubs

A nine-time All-Star in the American League, Clemens was among five starting pitchers voted to the National League team by major league players, managers and coaches. The 41-year-old Clemens, joined by Arizona's Randy Johnson and Cincinnati's Barry Larkin as All-Stars older than 40, is 10-2 in his first season with his hometown Astros, and is likely to start.

Piazza, in what will probably be his final All-Star appearance as a catcher, was elected to start for the 10th time, his 11th All-Star selection overall. He's caught 34 games for the New York Mets this season and played first base in 37.

"We both have a job to do. I'm sure it will be totally professional," Piazza said. "I don't think it's going to be that hard. We're two guys who know what to do."

Clemens, then with the Yankees, beaned Piazza in July 2000. In Game 2 of the World Series that October, he threw the jagged barrel of a shattered bat in the direction of Piazza, earning a $50,000 fine.

"It's not that big a deal. It's definitely not larger than the game, unless you all make it that," Clemens said. "I'm not too concerned about that. I'm professional about my work and so is Mike."

There was just one change among starters in the final week of fan voting, with Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki overtaking the Yankees' Hideki Matsui for the final AL outfield spot.

Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa were elected to start in the NL outfield, the first time three players with 500 home runs will start.

"It's going to be fun playing with Junior," Bonds said.

Griffey, who reached 500 on June 20, is going to the All-Star game for the first time since 2000, which was his 11th straight selection. "I'm the little guy in the outfield," he said.

Added Sosa: "I'm really going to enjoy it because I don't know if it's ever going to happen again."

Carlos Beltran, traded from Kansas City to Houston last month, was voted an AL reserve, his first All-Star selection, but the deal means he can't play in the game unless he's added to the NL team as a replacement.

"I'm the lucky one, I guess," Beltran quipped.

Six members of the AL champion Yankees were picked, including three elected to start in the infield. Derek Jeter was voted to his first start at shortstop, Jason Giambi to his third at first base and Alex Rodriguez to his first at third base following six at shortstop.They will be joined by outfielder Gary Sheffield and relievers Mariano Rivera and Tom Gordon.

"They all deserved to be there," said the Yankees' Joe Torre, who will manage the AL team.

Alfonso Soriano, traded from the Yankees to Texas in February for Rodriguez, was elected to start at second and received the most votes in either league, 3.47 million.

"It'll be fun to see my friends," Soriano said.

Ivan Rodriguez, in his first season with Detroit, was elected to his 10th All-Star start at catcher.

Anaheim's Vladimir Guerrero and Boston's Manny Ramirez were voted to start in the outfield along with Suzuki, who trailed Matsui by 57,000 votes a week ago. Suzuki finished third by 36,000 -- while Matsui was 6,000 ahead in online voting, Suzuki was ahead by a wide margin in ballots cast at ballparks.

Three St. Louis Cardinals infielders were elected to start for the NL: Third baseman Scott Rolen was the top NL vote-getter at 3.19 million and was joined by first baseman Albert Pujols and shortstop Edgar Renteria, who finished 214,000 votes ahead of Houston's Adam Everett. Last week, Renteria led by six votes.

Bonds was voted to his 13th All-Star team and 11th start. Griffey is a 12-time All-Star, elected to start in all of them.

Oakland's Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder were voted by the players, managers and coaches to the AL team as starting pitchers along with Boston's Curt Schilling, Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia and Texas' Kenny Rogers. The Yankees' Mariano Rivera, Anaheim's Francisco Rodriguez and Texas' Francisco Cordero were elected as relievers.

"It'd be awesome to start but just going is cool enough," said Mulder, who might open for the AL.

Voted on as reserves were Cleveland catcher Victor Martinez, Boston first baseman David Ortiz, Texas shortstop Michael Young, Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford and Cleveland second baseman Ronnie Belliard, all among 19 first-time All-Stars.

Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock and Sheffield also were selected.

Torre added Detroit shortstop Carlos Guillen, Kansas City first baseman Ken Harvey and Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada as reserves and added four pitchers: Gordon, Toronto's Ted Lilly, Chicago's Esteban Loaiza and Minnesota's Joe Nathan.

Joining Clemens among the NL starters are the Mets' Tom Glavine, Johnson, San Francisco's Jason Schmidt, the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano. The relievers are Los Angeles' Eric Gagne, Cincinnati's Danny Graves and Florida's Armando Benitez.

Elected as reserves were Atlanta catcher Johnny Estrada, Cincinnati first baseman Sean Casey, San Diego second baseman Mark Loretta, Florida third baseman Mike Lowell, Pittsburgh shortstop Jack Wilson, Houston outfielder Lance Berkman, Cubs outfielder Moises Alou and Florida outfielder Miguel Cabrera.

The reserves selected by Florida's Jack McKeon, the NL manager, were Philadelphia first baseman Jim Thome, Colorado first baseman Todd Helton, Larkin, Montreal starter Livan Hernandez, Florida starter Carl Pavano, and Milwaukee pitchers Ben Sheets and Danny Kolb.

Among those left off were Cincinnati's Adam Dunn, second in the NL with 24 homers; Los Angeles' Adrian Beltre, fourth with 21; and Baltimore's Melvin Mora, batting .347 but nursing a hamstring injury.

Fans can vote online through Wednesday for the final addition in each league. The AL choices are Matsui, Minnesota's Lew Ford, Cleveland's Travis Hafner, and Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko of the White Sox. The NL candidates are Philadelphia's Bobby Abreu, Arizona's Steve Finley, Pittsburgh's Jason Kendall, Florida's Juan Pierre and the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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