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ALL-STAR NOTEBOOK

Award Will Honor Williams

July 09, 2002|From Staff and Wire Reports

The All-Star MVP award will be named after Hall of Famer Ted Williams, who died last week at age 83.

The first winner of the Ted Williams Award will be picked after tonight's game at Miller Park, Major League Baseball announced on Monday.

There will also be a tribute to Williams during the game. Williams, the last player to hit better than .400 in a season, played in 18 All-Star games, batting .304 with four homers and 12 runs batted in.

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Once again, when it comes to hitting home runs, Sammy Sosa is second.

Jason Giambi overcame Sosa's dazzling display of longballs early in the All-Star home run derby and easily beat him, 7-1, in the final Monday night.

After Sosa hit seven 500-foot homers in the first two rounds, including three that left Miller Park on the fly, the Chicago Cub slugger could only go deep once in the final.

"Yellowstone might be the only park that could hold him," Giambi said. "He's the best of the best."

But Sosa couldn't defeat Giambi.

Sosa, the runner-up in the NL homer race in three of the last four years, finished second in the Derby for the second straight year. He lost to Arizona's Luis Gonzalez last year in Seattle.

"I came up a little bit short, but it's no big deal," Sosa said.

Sosa easily put on the best show of the night. With flashbulbs popping before every swing and the crowd of 41,732 chanting, "Sam-my! Sam-my!"

Sosa hit the ball a mile in the first round--literally. His 12 homers traveled 5,719 feet, including the first two balls hit out of the two-year-old ballpark.

Sosa's longest drive traveled 524 feet and landed in the middle of Bernie Brewer's slide deep in left-center.

Baseball's home run king and the leading sluggers in each league were eliminated quickly. Barry Bonds, who hit a record 73 homers last season, was knocked out with just two in the opening round.

Houston's Lance Berkman, who leads the majors with 29 homers, hit only one, and Texas' Alex Rodriguez, who leads the AL with 27, had two.

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Curt Schilling of Arizona gets another chance to start for the National League, this time against Boston's Derek Lowe.

Schilling, whose 14 wins lead the majors, was tabbed as the starter last year, too. But the five-time All-Star was a late scratch and didn't even get in the game.

"It's no less an honor than it was the first time being at one of those games," said Schilling, who started the 1999 game in Boston. "It's a lot of fun. It's an honor and a privilege."

Lowe (12-4) made the All-Star game as a reliever in 2000. Put in the starting rotation this year, he's flourished, leading the AL with a 2.36 ERA.

"To be here starting an All-Star game is more than I could have anticipated," Lowe said.

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Left fielder Garret Anderson and Manager Mike Scioscia, serving as a coach, are the only Angels on the American League squad despite the club's strong first-half performance in the West.

The second-place Angels trail the leading Seattle Mariners by only three games, but Anderson is not surprised several of his teammates were overlooked.

"It's disappointing, but it's not an indication of what we've done this year as a team," he said.

"There's always going to be some people who get left off the roster, and I've been part of that for a few years. This year, I was fortunate enough to put up numbers across the board, which gave me a great chance to be a reserve."

Anderson believes playing on the West coast is a factor in All-Star selections.

"You just don't have the same exposure," he said. "You watch ESPN and national TV stations, you see a lot of what happens on the East coast because that's where those stations are based. We just go unnoticed because of lack of exposure."

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American League Manager Joe Torre might have a harder time dealing with his rotation of five shortstops as opposed to the nine pitchers.

"I'm not sure they will all play shortstop," Torre said Monday.

"I'll get as many in as I can. With the National League rules, there will be a lot of double-switching going on to keep the pitchers from having to hit. So probably for that regard, we'll get most of the shortstops in."

Rodriguez will start the game for the AL, with Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, Omar Vizquel and Miguel Tejada backing up. Torre said Jeter might only pinch-hit after spraining his left knee Thursday.

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Benito Santiago isn't one of the 29 first-time All-Stars this week but it's easy to understand why he feels that way.

The San Francisco Giant catcher is back at the All-Star game for the first time in 10 years.

"I feel like a rookie again," Santiago said.

"After 10 years, I don't know how to explain it. I feel like a kid."

Santiago, the 1987 NL Rookie of the Year, was almost out of baseball after breaking his knee and pelvis in a car crash four years ago.

But Santiago has battled back and will play in his fifth All-Star game today.

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