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Astros have four 2004 All-Stars
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07/04/2004  7:00 PM ET
Astros have four 2004 All-Stars
Kent, Clemens, Beltran and Berkman all named
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Roger Clemens is a candidate to start for the NL in this year's All-Star Game. (David J. Phillip/AP)

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros were hoping they would be well-represented at this year's All-Star Game, considering the event will take place at their home, Minute Maid Park.

Their wish was granted. Major League Baseball announced the All-Star starters and reserves on Sunday, and three Astros -- Jeff Kent, Lance Berkman and Roger Clemens-- were selected to the National League team, and one -- Carlos Beltran -- was named an All-Star, but not named to the NL squad.

Beltran's case is a unique one in that he was voted to the AL team by the AL players, but was traded to the NL. The league decided to honor him as an All-Star, but not name him to the NL team. That way he gets to participate in the All-Star activities, but doesn't take a deserving NL player's spot in the game.

Kent was voted in by the fans as the starting second baseman, while Clemens and Berkman were selected by Major League players, who voted for an additional eight position players and eight pitchers (five starters and three relievers) in each league.

2004 All-Star Game

Kent buried his competition by more than 1.8 million votes. He garnered 2,898,381, far ahead of St. Louis' Tony Womack, who finished with 1,034,014.

This will be Kent's fourth All-Star appearance and his first in three years. The second baseman was an All-Star in 1999, 2000 and 2001. He has one hit in five All-Star at-bats (.200) with a double and a walk.

"I've been to others and they've been very special," Kent said. "But this might be the most special. Playing in a home uniform, playing among your home crowd ... thinking about it, being introduced as a starter to the home crowd is going to be special."

Kent will join an infield that consists mostly of St. Louis Cardinals players -- first baseman Albert Pujols, shortstop Edgar Renteria and third baseman Scott Rolen.

Mike Piazza of the New York Mets is the starting catcher for the NL team, and the outfield will consist of three players who have reached the 500 homer plateau -- Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr.

Berkman is a two-time All-Star, having been selected as a reserve in 2001 and 2002. He has two hits in five All-Star at-bats with two RBIs.

His 2004 stats are much more impressive: .305 average, 20 doubles, 16 homers and 59 RBIs. The right fielder was named National League Player of the Month for May.

"I think there were times this year where I felt deserving [of an All-Star selection], but there were so many times I don't feel like I deserved it," he said. "At the same time, I'm very happy to have been selected. It's going to be neat to play in the All-Star Game here in Houston."

Clemens, now in his 21st Major League season, has made eight All-Star appearances in his career. His first occurred in 1986, when the Houston native was able to pitch in front of dozens of friends and family at the Astrodome. He threw three perfect innings and was named the MVP of the game.

Clemens was also an All-Star in 1988, 1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2003. He has allowed a total of three runs over 11 innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts.

Pitching in front of his hometown crowd again, but this time while wearing a Houston uniform, will be special for the Rocket.

"This will be little different twist for me," he said. "Obviously, I'm happy for my teammates. From what I understand, we had five or six finish in that second slot. We had a nice little run of players that could have easliy been chosen for this All-Star Game here at home.

"I'm looking foward to it. It's going to be exciting, but ask me in a week and I'll be able to give you more details on how I'm feeling and the emotions running through my body."

The right-hander is 10-2 with a 2.63 ERA this year and is considered a favorite to receive the starting nod from NL manager Jack McKeon.

"Playing behind Roger and all of the games that he's started, [he's been] most impressive," Kent said. "I'd hate to be in the batter's box against him. So for me, he's deserving to start."

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

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