Mets stars will be out in Pittsburgh
Six players tabbed to suit up for Midsummer Classic
NEW YORK -- Whenever Mets general manager Omar Minaya discusses the core of the team, which is quite often, he speaks primarily of David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran and draws parallels to the players that have been so integral to the decade of success the Yankees have had -- Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.
Now, the three Mets Minaya embraces and considers the core of his team's future have formed a core of the 2006 National League All-Star team. Wright, the third-year third baseman; Reyes, the fourth-year shortstop; and Beltran, the second-year Met, comprise half of the contingent the Mets will send to Pittsburgh next week for the 77th All-Star Game.
Major League Baseball announced the results of the annual All-Star balloting just prior to the Mets-Yankees Interleague game at Yankee Stadium. In addition to the three core players, the Mets will send their catcher Paul Lo Duca and their two veteran starting pitchers, Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez. Closer Billy Wagner, could become a seventh Mets representative if he emerges as the National League player elected in the Monster 2006 All-Star Final Vote.
So baseball's midsummer showcase event could begin with five Mets on the field -- though four is more likely -- and, with the game played in a National League city, end with one on the mound.
As was the case last year, Martinez's participation is an issue. He has been scratched from his scheduled start on Monday against the Pirates because of a bruised and inflamed hip.
In what may be perceived as another indication of their superiority within the National League, the Mets have more players on the 32-man roster than any other team in the league. And if Wagner is elected, they could have four more than any other. The Mets never have had more than five players on an All-Star roster. They had five -- Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter, Dwight Gooden and Sid Fernandez -- in 1986, the year they won their most recent World Series championship, and they placed four players on the team in each of the subsequent two seasons. The four position players started.
The elections are career firsts for Wright and Reyes, who have become the Mets' highest profile players as the team has burned off the competition and established a double-digit lead in the NL East. Beltran is a repeater as a Met and an All-Star outfielder for the third straight year. Lo Duca, in his first season with the Mets, now is an All-Star catcher four straight years and a starter for the first time. He has also ended the reign of the catcher he replaced at Shea Stadium, Mike Piazza.
And Glavine and Martinez have been selected 10 and eight times, respectively. Glavine's most recent selection was in 2004, as a Met. The left-hander becomes one of only six pitchers to be named to an All-Star team for 10 or more years. Warren Spahn (14 years), Tom Seaver (12 years), Roger Clemens (11 years), Steve Carlton (10 years) and Randy Johnson (10 years) are the others.
Martinez, selected last year -- his first with the Mets -- didn't participate for physical reasons after days of hand-wringing. That could be the case this year as well.
But regardless of Martinez's status, the Mets will be conspicuous by their presence.
"And that's what makes it cool," Glavine said on Sunday. "I've been there when I'm the only from my team, and I've been there [as a member of the Braves] when we have three or four guys. We used to send a slew of guys. And one year we had the whole coaching staff and Bobby [Cox, the manager]. We were the team photo.
"It's a great experience solo, [but] it's even better when you've got a bunch for your team. It's an indication you're having a good season."
Martinez didn't seem as pleased as his fellow starter.
"It's harder to answer the same questions every year," he said, "than it is to make the team."
But other Mets were delighted.
"To be elected is a great honor," said Wright, who also will participate in the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby on ESPN on July 10, the night before the game. "We all owe a debt of gratitude to the fans for their incredible support.
"I'm very happy to be going with Jose because we've kinda come up through the Mets organization together. It seems appropriate that we're All-Stars for the first time in the same year."
Reyes, who said he spent the All-Star break in New York the last two years, said, "I like to be in New York. But it's better to be in Pittsburgh this time."
Each of the six, and Wagner, was quite aware that home-field advantage in the World Series will be determined by the outcome of the All-Star Game, and that the Mets could benefit from that.
"But the idea," Glavine said, "is to get to the playoffs and worry about the World Series later. So we just go and play our normal game, come back and go back to the business at hand."
A sense of satisfaction filled Beltran because he feels he earned this election more than he earned his election last year.
"I didn't have the best numbers last year. Other players had better numbers," he said. "I was very proud to go, but this year I am more proud. It feels very good."
Moreover, he gets to play center field this year -- between Alfonso Soriano of the Nationals and Jason Bay of the Pirates, who will be the hometown favorite. Last summer, Beltran played left field because Jim Edmonds of the Cardinals was the center fielder.
In addition to Soriano, Bay and the four Mets starters, Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols will start for the National League. Pujols was the leading vote-getter in either league with 3,418,555 votes. The only other player to exceed 2 million in the fan voting was Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez (3,101,161). Beltran was the leader among the Mets with 2,548,744, and second to Bay among the National League outfielders.
Glavine and Lo Duca are pleased to be members of the team mostly because of Wright and Reyes, their popular and relative fledgling teammates.
"Once you've been there a few times, the thrill is still the same. You're with a lot of great players," Lo Duca said. "But you really get a kick out of watching the guys who are there for the first time. Knowing David and Jose will make it even more fun."
"The only thing I told them," Glavine said, "is what I was told before I went to my first one -- 'Just have a blast.' And the cool thing for Paul and me will be to see how they go about it."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.