07/16/2003 12:36 AM ET
Lowell thankful for opportunity
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- There is absolutely nothing Mike Lowell would change about his All-Star experience, even though the National League lost, 7-6, and he got just a single at-bat.
"I think the fans got their money's worth," the Marlins third baseman said. "There was good pitching and good hitting. I think fans saw what an All-Star Game should be."
They also saw what a good All-Star Game performer Lowell is. After going 2-for-3 in his debut last year in Milwaukee, Lowell doubled in his only at-bat in the sixth inning on Tuesday to up his average to a robust .750.
Those kinds of numbers would normally warrant another plate appearance, especially considering Lowell is tied for second in the National League in homers with 28 and fourth in RBIs with 76. But when Lowell's spot in the order came up again in the eighth, manager Dusty Baker sent up Aaron Boone to pinch-hit.
"I think Dusty did the right thing," Lowell said. "We had three third basemen and we all got an at-bat. I got a hit and that was icing on the cake."
Lowell got three at-bats in last year's game, mostly because the NL had only two third basemen on the roster, and of course the game went extra innings. There's no Major League hitter who would ever turn down extra plate appearances, but Lowell completely agreed with Baker keeping his All-Star appearance relatively brief.
"I would've loved to have another at-bat, but not at Aaron Boone's expense," Lowell said. "I still believe that everyone who is selected should get to play.
"As a position player, you want to get one at-bat. The defense is secondary. You just want to swing the stick. Your hitting is what got you here anyway."
Lowell's Marlins teammates didn't fare quite as well. Luis Castillo took over at second base for starter Jose Vidro in the sixth inning and went 0-for-2, grounding back to the pitcher to end the sixth and flying to center for the second out in the ninth. Still, Castillo thoroughly enjoyed his second straight All-Star appearance, especially since he was such a last-second replacement for the injured Marcus Giles.
"I'm really happy for the opportunity to be at the All-Star Game," Castillo said. "Until the last day, I didn't know I was coming, so it was great for me. We just tried to have fun."
There's little doubt rookie Dontrelle Willis had a good time even though he didn't get the chance to pitch. He was up in the bullpen in the ninth, perhaps in case the National League had tied up the game in the top of the inning, but Willis downplayed it as a routine throwing session.
"I was just trying to get some work in. It was low-key," Willis said.
That disappointed at least one AL hitter, who would've liked to have matched up against the young lefty.
"Willis was the one guy I would have loved to see pitch," Jason Giambi said. "He's having an unbelievable year."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.