07/07/2003 3:55 PM ET
Vote Lofton into All-Star Game
Outfielder among Pirates offensive leaders
Cast your ballot in the etopps All-Star Final Vote
By Ed Eagle / MLB.com
AL All-Star roster
NL All-Star roster
PITTSBURGH -- Two weeks into Spring Training, Kenny Lofton was searching for a team. Four months later, he could be an All-Star.
Monday, National League All-Star manager Dusty Baker named Lofton to replace Corey Patterson of the Chicago Cubs, who would be unable to play in the All-Star Game due to a knee injury sustained in Sunday's game, as one of the five candidates for the final roster spot on the 2003 National League All-Star Team as determined by the etopps All-Star Final Vote.
"Kenny's having a good year," Baker said. "Plus Corey was a center fielder, speed, left handed, and so is Kenny. Also Kenny was one of the guys who was directly responsible and partly responsible for me being in that situation in the first place."
Since signing with the Pirates in March, Lofton has provided the team with the leadoff hitter and center fielder it has coveted for years. Lofton is hitting .282 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs, and his 54 runs scored and 16 steals pace the club. The four-time Gold Glove Award winner has also anchored an improved Bucs' outfield defense.
"It's nice to have him up there," said Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon. "When you've got that type of speed on the basepaths it creates a lot of problems for the defense. It makes your job a lot easier as a manager.
"He's not the explosive type of player he was 10 years ago. But he certainly knows the game, knows his way around and knows how to do things out there."
The 36-year-old Lofton is a five-time All-Star. He was voted in as a starter by the fans with the Cleveland Indians in 1996, 1998 and 1999 and the Atlanta Braves in 1997. He has hit .357 (5-for-14) with five steals in All-Star competition.
Lofton, whose 26-game hitting streak earlier in the season is the longest in the Major Leagues this year, will be competing for the final spot on the National League roster against Expos shortstop Orlando Cabrera, Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo, Brewers outfielder Geoff Jenkins and Giants catcher Benito Santiago.
Now in its second year, the etopps All-Star Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world an opportunity to select the final position player on each All-Star Team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday night's Major League Baseball All-Star Selection Show and continues until 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, July 9. The winners will be announced on MLB.com at 6:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.