07/04/2004 7:00 PM ET
Tejada named to AL All-Star team
Shorstop in Midsummer Classic in first year with O's
By Gary Washburn / MLB.com
|Miguel Tejada is hitting .311 with 15 homers and 75 RBIs before the All-Star break. (George Widman/AP)
PHILADELPHIA -- Miguel Tejada signed a six-year, $72 million contract to be the Orioles' leader and franchise cornerstone. On Sunday, he cemented his status as a standout player by being named to the July 13 All-Star Game at Houston's Minute Maid Park.
Tejada, 28, has been the Orioles' most consistent player in his first season with the club. After Sunday, he is hitting .315 with 15 homers, 69 RBIs and a 19-game hitting streak. His 69 RBIs are fourth in the Major Leagues and he is on pace to shatter his career high of 131 in 2002.
"I am surprised because there are so many good players who had great years," he said after the Orioles' 5-2 loss to Philadelphia. "So many guys from that position. The All-Star Game always had superstars, and this year I didn't think I was going to make it."
He was elected to his first All-Star Game in 2002, and later that year he collected his first American League MVP award. After six years with the Oakland A's, Tejada signed with the Orioles to become the team's first legitimate superstar since the retirement of Cal Ripken.
Tejada was named a reserve by Yankees manager Joe Torre. He finished fourth in the fan balloting behind the Yankees' Derek Jeter, Boston's Nomar Garciaparra and Texas' Michael Young. Jeter will be a starter, while Young was elected on the players' ballot.
"He was very deserving," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said of Tejada. "There were a lot of guys on our club who deserved to make the team."
Tejada has batted at least .300 in every month and is hitting a sparkling .360 against left-handed pitchers. And his numbers in the first half are eerily similar to his first-half numbers in 2002. Tejada hit .294 with 15 homers and 59 RBIs in the first half of 2002 with Oakland.
After a slow defensive start, Tejada regained his status as one of the league's top defensive shortstops. He has dazzled fans with an array of plays in the field.
"I'm playing good this year because I want to feel good about myself and I love to win," he said. "I am real happy. But I wasn't planning to be in the All-Star Game this year."
It's the fourth consecutive year that one Oriole has been elected to the All-Star Game. Ripken was the MVP of the 2001 game, while Tony Batista (2002) and Melvin Mora (2003) also represented the Orioles.
Mora had a chance to make this year's club, but has been injured of late after a torrid start.
"That surprised me, because I think [he] should have made it," Tejada said. "There's a lot of guys who should have made it. That happens sometimes. They can't do anything about it."
Mazzilli said he also pleaded the case for left-handed reliever B.J. Ryan.
Ryan is 2-2 with a 1.84 ERA and left-handers had two hits in 48-at-bats against him. He was edged by the Yankees' Tom Gordon, who had comparable numbers, but a .158 opponents batting average before Sunday.
"Hopefully, when they pick the reserves or there is a scratch, I told [Torre] to keep them in mind," Mazzilli said. "If something happens, to consider those two players."
Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.