Tuesday, July 03, 2001

Mariners top All-Star starters

A-Rod joins 4 for Seattle homecoming

The Associated Press

        NEW YORK — Four hometown Mariners and former Seattle star Alex Rodriquez were among the starters elected by fans Monday for the All-Star game next week at Seattle's Safeco Field.

        Boosted by online support worldwide and paper ballots cast in Japan for the first time, Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki became the first rookie to draw the most votes.

        Cal Ripken, who will retire after this season, overtook Seattle's David Bell (Moeller High) in the final week to earn his 17th start. The Baltimore third baseman rallied from a 44,000-vote deficit to pass Bell and Anaheim's Troy Glaus and win by 45,000 votes.

        The Japanese-born Suzuki received 3,373,035 votes. The 27-year-old right fielder leads the majors in hits and stolen bases.

        Ichiro got 1,217,680 online votes — the commissioner's office is still counting how many came from Japan. Suzuki was picked on 682,815 of the 835,000 paper ballots cast in Japan.

        Suzuki was the first rookie to be elected since Sandy Alomar Jr. for Cleveland in 1990. Hideo Nomo was a rookie when he was selected by NL manager Felipe Alou as the starting pitcher for the 1995 All-Star game.

        The Mariners also will have first baseman John Olerud, second baseman Bret Boone and designated hitter Edgar Martinez in the starting lineup next Tuesday in their home ballpark.

        The last team to have four elected starters was Cleveland in 1999 — Roberto Alomar, Manny Ramirez, Kenny Lofton and Jim Thome. Had Bell beaten out Ripken, the Mariners would have become the first team with five elected starters since Cincinnati in 1977.

        Boone, leading the AL with 80 RBIs, was elected for the first time and will make his second All-Star appearance. He broke Roberto Alomar's string of five straight starts at second base for the AL.

        “Bret Boone deserves it, he's having a great year,” Alomar, hitting a league-leading .355, said before Monday night's game against Cleveland.

        San Francisco's Barry Bonds, leading the majors with 39 home runs, drew an NL-leading 2,140,315 votes.

        The Giants' infield tandem of second baseman Jeff Kent and shortstop Rich Aurilia also drew starts.

        Rodriguez, who left the Mariners after last season as a free agent and signed with Texas, will return to Seattle as the starting shortstop.

        Pitchers and the rest of the 30-man rosters will be announced Wednesday.

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