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Garciaparra Is an All-Star for Sixth Time

July 07, 2006|Michael Becker | Times Staff Writer

Skywriting, because of the 11 letters in G-A-R-C-I-A-P-A-R-R-A, would have been useless.

"The clouds would have been clear by the time they got to P," Nomar Garciaparra joked. "Nobody would have read it."

So the Dodgers used other methods to promote their first baseman in his bid to land the final spot on the National League All-Star team.

They flashed his picture on the big screen during each at-bat, encouraging fans to vote by Internet in Major League Baseball's "Final Man" contest. All-Star pitcher Brad Penny called all of his friends, urging them to do the same. Dodgers players voted in their downtime.

The effort paid off Thursday when Garciaparra was named to the National League All-Star team, collecting more than 4 million Internet votes. Garciaparra, who entered the game against the Giants leading the NL in batting (.359), will make his sixth All-Star appearance.

"When you get picked that way," Garciaparra said, "hopefully I'm doing something right out there."

In addition to leading the NL in batting, the first-year Dodger entered Thursday's game with a 17-game hitting streak. He ranked sixth in slugging percentage (.582), and has committed only one error in 614 chances at first base, a new position for the 32-year-old.

"He should have made it anyway," Penny said of Garciaparra's initial omission by players and coaches. "He's leading the league in hitting. It's crazy."

The NL first base spot went to St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols, who is making his fourth straight All-Star appearance. Houston's Lance Berkman, with 24 home runs and 76 runs batted in, was selected as the reserve.

Garciaparra last competed in 2003, when he was a shortstop for Boston. He sat out much of the 2004 season because of tendinitis and more than half of last season because of a groin injury.

"We all knew coming in ... if he would be able to stay on the field you'd have a great player for your ballclub," Manager Grady Little said.

Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski was the American League selection in the contest.

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