For Cleveland and Japan, the All-Star game’s spotlight will burn es
NEW YORK (AP) _ For Cleveland and Japan, the All-Star game’s spotlight will burn especially bright this year.
For the first time since 1955, six Indians are on the American League team. And for the first time ever, the game will have a Japanese player _ Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo.
``I didn’t think I could come this far,″ Nomo said Sunday through an interpreter after the selections were announced. ``Hopefully, I’m not too psychologically overwhelmed.″
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda hopes NL manager Felipe Alou of Montreal picks Nomo to start the July 11 game in Arlington, Texas. The 26-year-old rookie is 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA.
``I wasn’t thinking of results, but just satisfied with pitching,″ Nomo said.
Ken Griffey Jr. and Matt Williams both were elected to start, but they’ll miss the game because of injuries. So will St. Louis shortstop Ozzie Smith.
At one point in the voting, Cleveland players were first or second at every position. The Indians are 42-18, the best record in baseball, and have a 10-game lead in the AL Central.
``Now people have to realize what good players we have around here,″ second baseman Carlos Baerga said.
Baerga and outfielder Albert Belle were voted in as starters, and AL manager Buck Showalter of the New York Yankees said Kenny Lofton will take Griffey’s place in the starting lineup. Also picked were outfielder Manny Ramirez and pitchers Dennis Martinez and Jose Mesa.
``I could have easily chose a few more,″ Showalter said. ``I thought long and hard of Eddie Murray. He certainly was worthy of consideration.″
Murray got his 3,000th Friday night but broke two ribs Sunday.
Lofton’s selection caused his salary next year to increase automatically from $3.1 million to $3.5 million. The Indians’ option on Belle rose from $5 million to $5.5 million.
``I’m still pretty new, so I’m still not sure what it’ll be like,″ Lofton said. ``But it is an honor, especially to go with so many teammates.″
Griffey, who broke his left wrist May 27, led AL outfielders with 1,204,748 votes. Williams, who broke his right foot June 3, led NL third basemen with 1,029,519 votes.
Smith, disabled since May 24 with a sore shoulder, was voted to start for the 12th time. The only player elected more times was Rod Carew (15).
The number of votes was down sharply from 1994, primarily because Texaco Inc. didn’t distribute ballots and baseball attendance this season has dropped 20 percent. In 1994, a record 14,040,122 votes were cast and Griffey got the most, 6,079,688. This year, 5,808,000 votes were cast, the fewest since 5.5 votes in 1987.
Cal Ripken of the Baltimore Orioles, closing in on Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games played, led all players with 1,698,524 votes. The closest voting was for the third outfield spot in the AL. Lofton was fourth, 21,822 votes behind Minnesota outfielder Kirby Puckett.
Also elected to start for the AL were Chicago White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas, New York Yankees third baseman Wade Boggs and Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez.
In the NL, Fred McGriff of Atlanta was elected at first, Craig Biggio of Houston at second and Mike Piazza of Los Angeles at catcher. The elected outfield starters were Barry Bonds of San Francisco, Lenny Dykstra of Philadelphia and Tony Gwynn of San Diego.
Alou said he intends use Colorado’s Vinny Castilla at third in place of Williams and Cincinnati’s Barry Larkin at shortstop instead of Smith.
Nomo was among five first-time All-Stars on the NL staff, joined by Denny Neagle of Pittsburgh, Carlos Perez of Montreal, and Tyler Green and Heathcliff Slocumb of Philadelphia.
The rest of NL pitching staff includes Tom Henke of St. Louis, Greg Maddux of Atlanta, Randy Myers of the Chicago Cubs and Todd Worrell of Los Angeles.
In the AL, the other pitchers picked were Kevin Appier of Kansas City, Chuck Finley and Lee Smith of California, Erik Hanson of Boston, Randy Johnson of Seattle, Steve Ontiveros of Oakland, Kenny Rogers of Texas and David Wells of Detroit.