Tino Martinez pulled off his second All-Star surprise.
Being elected as the A.L.’s starting first baseman - beating out Mark McGwire, Frank Thomas and Mo Vaughn - was stunning enough. On Monday, the New York Yankee was the shocking winner of the All-Star Home Run Derby.
Martinez defeated Colorado’s Larry Walker in the finals to win the popular event, capping Workout Day before 44,945 fans at Jacobs Field.
“It’s pretty cool,” Martinez said. “It’s something I can tell my kids and grandkids, show them the trophy… . I didn’t expect to win.”
Martinez went first in the finals and set the bar for Walker by hitting three into the stands before making five outs. Walker, who hit nine homers in both the first and second rounds, including a 479-foot shot - the day’s longest - managed to hit just one off Indians coach Dan Williams.
Seattle’s Ken Griffey Jr., the 1994 champion, didn’t make it past the first round, hitting just three homers.
First-timers in awe
San Francisco Giants pitcher Shawn Estes sat at his appointed locker with his ears open and his mouth closed.
Estes, 24, a first-time All-Star, had just entered the National League clubhouse at Cleveland’s Jacobs Field. After scanning the names above the lockers - Maddux, Gwynn, Larkin, Bagwell - he sat down, smiled, and shook his head.
“I feel out of place,” said Estes. “I’m not going to say much. Instead of trying to fit in, I’ll just do what I know best - pitch.”
Fifteen feet away was 27-year-old Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Tony Womack, whose 33 stolen bases ranks second in the league behind the Cincinnati Reds’ Deion Sanders.
“All I could think about was coming here,” a wide-eyed Womack said. “I don’t want to pinch myself because if I do I might wake up.”
In the A.L. clubhouse, pitchers Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, Justin Thompson of the Detroit Tigers and Jason Dickson of the Anaheim Angels are preparing for their first All-Star appearances.
Rivera, usually a closer, had trouble with his opening.
“Hello, sir,” he said to Baltimore Orioles reliever Randy Myers, who had just arrived for his fourth All-Star Game. Myers laughed.
“What is this, McDonald’s?” he asked. “It’s Randy.”
Perhaps Rivera hasn’t glanced at the league leaders lately: He and Myers each have 27 saves, top in the American League.
To Rivera’s left is Thompson, a 24-year-old left-hander, whose 2.95 ERA is the seventh-best in the league. That, he said, doesn’t matter, especially when last year’s Cy Young winner, Pat Hentgen of the Toronto Blue Jays, has the next locker.
“I have no idea what’s going on,” said Thompson, who bought a box of baseballs with the hope of getting them autographed by his teammates. “I’m here with guys I used to watch on TV. It’s exciting.”
That excitement is matched by American League manager Joe Torre, who is making his All-Star managerial debut after appearing in nine as a player.
In your face
Not intimidated by Randy Johnson? Perhaps a different view is in order.
Fans watching Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game tonight will get to see the Seattle Mariners’ 6-foot-10 left-hander from a different perspective - the catcher’s. Fox Sports has mounted cameras on the masks of catchers for the game, an All-Star first.
“What we’re trying to do is bring the viewer closer to the game,” said John Filippelli, Fox’s senior coordinating producer. “You’ll get a sense of what it’s like to be on the end of a 90 mph fastball and what the batter is seeing when he’s in the box.”
Garciaparra wins rookie contest
Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra won the inaugural rookie home run derby, one of the events held before the Major League Baseball All-Star Game tomorrow at Cleveland’s Jacobs Field.
Garciaparra hit three homers to win the rookie contest, defeating Oakland Athletics second baseman Scott Spiezio and Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Jose Guillen, who each hit two, and Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Scott Rolen, who had one.
By winning the rookie contest, Garciaparra earned a spot in the annual All-Star home run derby. He was eliminated in the first round after he failed to hit a home run.
Belle skips BP
Albert Belle, returning to Jacobs Field as an All-Star for another team, was not on the field for batting practice with his American League teammates Monday.
Hours after all the other All-Stars got dressed and acquainted, Belle’s locker was still empty. He was missing one of baseball’s best days.
“He’s in town, but he’s not in the clubhouse,” said a nervous, puzzled Frank Mancini, the Indians’ clubhouse worker who befriended Belle during his stormy career here. “I’m a little scared to see him.”
Some kept their opinions to themselves.
“I have nothing to say about Albert Belle,” said former teammate Kenny Lofton, returning to Cleveland as an N.L. All-Star following his trade to Atlanta. “This game is for fun. I’m not talking any controversy. That’s what you guys want. That’s why you ask that.”
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