07/12/2003 9:30 PM ET
Ordoñez headed to All-Star Game
White Sox superstar replaces Ramirez on roster
Rosters: AL | NL
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Take a look at the final All-Star voting for the American League.
Skim down to the outfield totals, and now try to find in the list the name of Magglio Ordoñez. If the scan ends after the top 15, the search for Ordoñez would have to continue.
Ordonez finished behind Boston's Johnny Damon, Anaheim's Darin Erstad and New York's Raul Mondesi
-- all good players, in their own right, but not having as strong of a year as the White Sox right fielder. Ordoñez might need to bring along at least two forms of identification to every ballpark where he travels because he's the most unheralded superstar in all of baseball.
"One thing about Magglio is that he doesn't show he's a star as a person," said White Sox shortstop Jose Valentin of his teammate. "He just keeps coming every day, and does what he's supposed to do when playing the game. But there's no doubt in my mind that he's one of the best right fielders in the game.
"It's a shame when you don't hear his name mentioned like some of the other players. It looks like it doesn't bother him. He just keeps putting up good numbers, and sooner or later, you will hear his name everywhere."
That lack of attention appeared to cost Ordoñez a chance for his fourth All-Star appearance, despite a strong finish to a rather tepid first half. But when Boston's Manny Ramirez had to pull out of the game Saturday after re-aggravating a hamstring pull, Anaheim and American League manager Mike Scioscia went to Ordonez as his replacement.
The move seems rather interesting, especially with teammate Frank Thomas being
picked as one of the five for consideration in the etopps Final Vote for the 32nd man on the American League team. Thomas openly talked about his desire to be part of this year's All-Star Game at U.S. Cellular Field.
Ordoñez recently admitted that he didn't even vote for himself in the player balloting.
"My first half has been OK, but I'm feeling better now," said Ordoñez, who is hitting .295 with 16 home runs and 50 RBIs. "My swing is back, I'm feeling confident and waiting for my pitches.
"I just try to do my job. It's something where you can't predict what you are going to do. You have to play your game, and if you don't do well, you just try again in your next opportunity."
Thomas ranks below Ordoñez in RBIs and average, but has four more home runs than his teammate of six years. When talking about his particular All-Star ballot, Thomas mentioned Damaso Marte and Esteban Loaiza but no Ordoñez.
It was not an intentional shot taken at the 29-year-old. Even if the rest of the baseball world doesn't necessarily appreciate Ordoñez's ability, Thomas does.
Ordoñez has hit 30 or more home runs and driven in at least 110 runs in each of the last four seasons. He set career highs in 2002 with a .320 average, 38 home runs and 135 RBIs. Yet, he didn't make the All-Star team. Thomas believes that people expect more after judging Ordoñez's past production, which translates into a low vote total.
"He hasn't had a good first half, but remember, expectations are very high for him after the last two years he has put together," Thomas said of Ordoñez, who has 69 home runs and 248 RBIs in his last two full seasons. "He's in the prime of his career and people expect more.
"I understand that because I've been through that, too. Once you set a certain standard, you are expected to live up to it each day, especially at his age. But people know he's there.
"He's a great player, who didn't have a great first half," Thomas added. "That's why he's down in the voting."
In six career All-Star at-bats, Ordoñez has three hits. That total includes a solo home run against former Cubs pitcher Jon Lieber during the 2001 game in Seattle.
Becoming a go-to player on the prime-time stage helps increase national awareness. Ordoñez took advantage of the spotlight against the Cubs, making two sensational, sliding catches in right field and tagging up and advancing from first to second in the ninth inning of the second game played at U.S. Cellular and scoring the game-winning run on D'Angelo Jimenez's two-out single.
Another strong performance Tuesday in front of the home faithful will help Ordoñez's cause. But White Sox manager Jerry Manuel would like to see his right fielder produce under the ultimate spotlight.
"Unless you are a scout or a person in baseball, nobody recognizes complete players until they are on the October stage," Manuel said. "I'll say the thing I would say to Magglio: Work your way to get to that stage and then show the world the kind of player you are.
"You have to win. Then, people will understand who you are and what you are about."
Apparently, Scioscia already knows. Ordoñez does, too, even though he didn't have a typically consistent first half, by his own admission.
But don't talk to Ordoñez about lack of recognition or lack of support in the All-Star balloting. He's more worried about his own critique and helping his teammates win games.
"I don't care what people think," Ordoñez said. "Don't get me wrong. I want to play in the All-Star Game.
"But I had good numbers last year, and they didn't take me. I just try to do my job."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.