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Archive for Monday, July 5, 2004

Clemens could throw to Piazza

Astros pitcher, Mets catcher will be teammates; Royals’ Harvey selected

July 5, 2004

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— Roger Clemens was picked for his first NL All-Star team Sunday, and Mike Piazza was elected by fans to start the July 13 game in Houston, putting the Rocket in line to throw the opening pitch to his nemesis.

Clemens, a nine-time All-Star in the American League, was among five starting pitchers voted to the National League team by major-league players, managers and coaches. With a 10-2 record in his first season with his hometown Astros, Clemens is likely to start for the NL.

Piazza, in what likely will 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 just 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 a big deal. It's definitely not larger than the game, unless you all make it that," the 41-year-old Clemens told reporters in Houston. "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. Griffey is going to the All-Star game for the first time since 2000, which was his 11th straight selection.

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.

Kansas City first baseman Ken Harvey was selected as a reserve for the AL team.

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 starts at shortstop. They will be joined by outfielder Gary Sheffield and relievers Mariano Rivera and Tom Gordon.

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.

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.

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