Catcher Mike Piazza of the Dodgers and pitcher Mark Langston of the Angels were added Thursday to the National and American League rosters, respectively, for Tuesday night's 64th All-Star game in Baltimore.
"It's such an honor," Piazza said after being told of his selection by Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda before Thursday's doubleheader with the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.
"It seemed so unreachable that I tried to forget about it and go out and play. I knew I had a chance, with my numbers and all, but there are so many guys who are having good years--Rick Wilkins (of the Chicago Cubs) for instance--and Benito Santiago is so popular."
The 24-year-old Dodger rookie has a .319 batting average, 17 homers and 56 runs batted in. He finished third in the fan voting behind Darren Daulton of the Philadelphia Phillies, who will start for the National League, and Santiago, who was not among the players added to the 28-man roster by Manager Bobby Cox of the Atlanta Braves.
"I was surprised when I saw the newspaper this morning and saw that I had finished third in votes, especially being my first year," Piazza said. "Usually it takes a while for people to recognize you, and that doesn't come until the year after you have a good year. This is so great, and Tommy will be there, too (as a coach). It's so cool. Are there any more adjectives I can use?"
The obviously excited Piazza added, "I'm really looking forward to being in that ballpark, and being around those guys, Darren Daulton, Barry Bonds--to get to talk with them, shoot the breeze with them, learn from them, how they do things, then take a little of that and add it to my game."
Langston (9-2) accepted his selection by American League Manager Cito Gaston of the Toronto Blue Jays a little more stoically, although he said it was a thrill to be going again. He pitched an inning each in the 1987 and '92 All-Star games and was selected for the '91 game but did not pitch.
"I wouldn't be here without my teammates, and that's the disappointing part of it," Langston said. "We've accomplished so much as a team, and I'd like to have some of those guys going with me."
Langston will start against fellow All-Star Jimmy Key of the New York Yankees tonight, with the possibility that one of the two left-handers will be the AL starter in the All-Star game, because the National League will start at least four left-handed hitters. Langston, sharing in the enthusiasm of the young Angels, said he has had more fun this year than during any in his career, and that he is particularly looking forward to the All-Star game because a friend, Geddy Lee of the rock group Rush, will be singing the Canadian national anthem.
"I'm very excited," Langston said.
In completing their rosters, Cox and Gaston leaned heavily on their own players. There are five Braves and seven Blue Jays on the teams. Besides outfield starter David Justice, Atlanta placed shortstop Jeff Blauser and pitchers Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Steve Avery. Toronto, besides starting first baseman John Olerud, second baseman Roberto Alomar and outfielder Joe Carter, will be represented by outfielders Paul Molitor and Devon White, along with pitchers Pat Hentgen and Duane Ward.
Detroit first baseman Cecil Fielder, the major league leader in runs batted in, was chosen as an AL reserve after being left out last year, but his Tiger teammate, catcher Mickey Tettleton, was not included. Tettleton is tied with San Francisco's Barry Bonds for the major league home run lead with 24 and is second in the AL with 72 RBIs. and Tettleton finished fourth in the fan voting behind the Texas Rangers' Ivan Rodriguez, who will start. Terry Steinbach, eighth in the fan vote, was the only catcher added to the AL roster and the only representative of the Oakland Athletics, a requirement that proved costly to Tettleton.
"I'm disappointed, but I'm not disappointed to the point that I'm going to sit around and pout about it," said Tettleton, who has been snubbed before. "It happens. It's part of this process."
Also omitted were Cincinnati outfielder Kevin Mitchell, batting .357 with 15 homers and 52 RBIs; injured San Francisco third baseman Matt Williams, who leads the NL with 64 RBIs; and Pittsburgh outfielder Orlando Merced, who is batting .359.
A look at the players added Thursday to the rosters for the All-Star game, which will be played Tuesday at Oriole Park in Camden Yards at Baltimore. The selections were made by the All-Star managers (Bobby Cox of Atlanta for the National League, Cito Gaston of Toronto for the American League) in conjunction with the league offices.