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Braves happy to share experience
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07/14/2003  7:39 PM ET 
Braves happy to share experience
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"It's an unbelievable experience for me," Russ Oritz said. (AP)
CHICAGO -- As Russ Ortiz spoke to the nation's baseball media Monday afternoon, he was displaying his customary unassuming personality that contrasts the dominant form he displays on the mound.

Ortiz, who has been a major reason why the Braves own the best record (62-32) in the Majors, is one of seven Atlanta players who were selected to play in Tuesday night's All-Star Game at U.S. Cellular Field.

"It's an unbelievable experience for me," Oritz said. "Just to be a part of an All-Star Game is awesome. Having the chance to share it with some of your teammates makes it even better."

Rafael Furcal and Marcus Giles join Ortiz as first-time All-Stars. Braves veterans John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield, Andruw Jones and Javy Lopez are guiding their teammates through their first experience.

"I told [Jones and Lopez] to take care of Furcal," Sheffield said. "I'm going to show Giles around."

Giles, who is unable to assume his role as the National League starting second baseman because of a concussion he suffered during a collision with fellow All-Star Mark Prior on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, opted to remain in town for this week's festivities. His parents and brother, Pirates outfielder Brian Giles, arrived in Chicago on Sunday night to share the experience.

"I thought about going back to Atlanta today to get some rest," Giles said. "But I'm glad I stayed here and got to see this."

Giles' father, Bill Giles, said on Monday morning that the injury might have been something that allows Brian, who was an All-Star in 2000 and '01, to be on the field when Marcus plays in his first Midsummer Classic.

"I really haven't thought anything about my brother," Giles said. "He's here with me this week and that's all that matters."

2003 All-Star Game

2003 All-Star Game information >

Giles had the opportunity to speak with Prior on Sunday night and the Cubs' right-handed pitcher simply said, "My bad."

"I think if it's anybody's fault, it's his," Giles said. "If it were a position player, it probably wouldn't have happened."

Lopez and Sheffield will now be the Braves' lone representatives in the NL starting lineup. Ortiz was a candidate to be named the starting pitcher, but understood the decision to let his former Giants teammate, Jason Schmidt, start.

"He's proven he's one of the game's best pitchers," Ortiz said of Schmidt, who was a top-pitching prospect in the Braves organization until being traded in 1996. "He deserves the honor."

Smoltz, who is making his sixth All-Star Game appearance, and Jones, who is making his third career appearance, both played in last year's Midsummer Classic. Sheffield will be playing in his seventh All-Star Game and Lopez in his third.

"It's a lot more fun to be here and look around to see all my teammates," Sheffield said. "These are the guys you go to war with every day. It makes it nice when you can all share this together."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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