07/06/08 6:32 PM ET
A-Rod, Jeter to man AL All-Star infield
Rivera, Girardi round out Yanks reps for Midsummer Classic
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter will comprise the left side of the starting AL infield in the game, taking their gloves to familiar surroundings for the top of the first inning. By the late frames, the AL will have closer Mariano Rivera ready to guard a lead, and Jason Giambi could join them through the Monster 2008 All-Star Game Final Vote.
"It's going to be fun," Jeter said. "The last year of Yankee Stadium, I think it's more than just an All-Star Game. It's a celebration of Yankee Stadium. It's something that I'm looking forward to, and it's something that I'll always remember."
Rodriguez, who turns 33 on July 27, has been the leading vote-getter for two consecutive All-Star Games. He garnered a total of 3,934,518 online votes for the 2008 All-Star Game, narrowly edging the Phillies' Chase Utley (3,889,602).
Rodriguez will be making his 12th appearance on an AL All-Star team and his ninth consecutive showing at a Midsummer Classic.
"It's going to be a once in a lifetime [event], and to be there looking to my left and having Derek Jeter there, and hopefully having Mariano Rivera close the game, it's something that I'll treasure and never forget," Rodriguez said.
The reigning AL Most Valuable Player, Rodriguez started at third base for the AL squad last year at San Francisco and went 1-for-3 in the AL's victory. He said that the Yankee Stadium game should be even more memorable, if he can make it slow down enough to enjoy it.
"There's a lot of moving parts to this," Rodriguez said. "I don't think you can take everything in, but I think you're going to take in that it's one of the most important days in the last year of the Stadium, and you're going to take the competition of the game.
"You get to meet people and colleagues that you would never meet unless it was at an All-Star Game. The interaction with the players is what I enjoy most."
In the first season of a 10-year contract that could be worth as much as $300 million if he eventually sets baseball's all-time home run record, Rodriguez's presence has been vital for the Yankees.
Rodriguez is batting .320 with 17 home runs and 49 RBIs in 68 games for New York, having missed 16 team games with a strained right quadriceps from April 30 to May 20.
Jeter, 34, will be making the ninth All-Star appearance of his career and is tied for second all-time with a .500 batting average (8-for-16) in the Midsummer Classic, having gone 1-for-3 in the AL's victory at AT&T Park in 2007.
The Yankees' captain, Jeter is batting .282 with four home runs and 36 RBIs in 81 games this season. He has spoken often about how if he does not make an All-Star team for the rest of his playing career, he would select to make the 2008 contest, a sentiment the fans obviously agreed with.
"Anytime the fans vote for you and appreciate how you play the game, it means a lot," Jeter said. "I really don't know -- I don't poll the people who are voting and ask them why they voted for me, but when people appreciate how you play the game, you just try to go out and play hard and be as consistent as possible. If they appreciate that, it means a lot."
Jeter is already entrenched as one of the key figures in Yankees lore, ranking highly among the club's all-time lists. Among other categories, he has 2,447 hits for third place (Babe Ruth is second with 2,518), 1,427 runs for fourth place (Mickey Mantle is third with 1,677), 402 doubles for fifth place (Ruth is fourth with 424) and has played in 1,916 games for sixth (Bernie Williams is fifth with 2,076).
Rivera, 38, has been named to his ninth career All-Star team and his first since 2006, making it on the player ballot. Widely regarded as the top closer in baseball history, Rivera may have even found a new gear this season, converting his first 23 save opportunities.
The owner of a devastating cutter that has splintered bats across infields for years, he is 2-3 with a 1.17 ERA in 36 appearances, walking just three and striking out 44 in 38 1/3 innings. It may turn out that the AL can put those talents to use by the end of the All-Star Game.
"It's an honor -- hopefully, we have the opportunity to close it," Rivera said. "It all depends on the manager. Whatever he wants to do. Being here, maybe he'll give me the opportunity. You never know. Anything can happen."
The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage that will also be available on XM Satellite Radio, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.
Additionally, Red Sox manager Terry Francona has selected Yankees manager Joe Girardi as one of his coaches for the All-Star Game, while longtime Yankees trainer Gene Monahan will also attend to his duties on July 15.
In a twist, Francona told Girardi that he'd dress in the coaches' room, but Girardi insists Francona use his office -- if it happens, it's believed to be the first time a Red Sox manager has ever taken advantage of those four walls.
"That message, I've gotten it a few times, and I'm not comfortable with it," Girardi said. "He's deserving and he's earned that office. I think we're going to find a way to make it work."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.