DENVER -- Ivan Rodriguez is headed back to the All-Star Game. Carlos Guillen is headed there for the first time.
While Rodriguez held onto his lead among American League catchers in the final balloting, Guillen was named as a reserve by manager Joe Torre. As a result, the Tigers have multiple All-Stars for the first time since 1994.
Three years after Pudge's last trip to the Midsummer Classic, his return to the AL put him back on top of his position. He easily outdistanced Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, Red Sox backstop Jason Varitek and others for his 11th All-Star Game appearance and 10th in the starting lineup.
"It would be nice to come back after two years," Rodriguez said. "I think all the All-Star Games are special. It's not easy to get there. I enjoy them all."
Rodriguez becomes the first Tiger to be voted into the All-Star Game since his manager, Alan Trammell, topped AL shortstops in 1988. Barring injury, which befell Trammell that year, he'll become the first Tiger to start in an All-Star Game since Cecil Fielder replaced injured Mark McGwire in 1991.
Pudge returns to the All-Star Game, a contest he started a record-tying nine consecutive years from 1993-2001, after missing the past two contests. He lost the balloting to his good friend Posada two years ago during an injury-plagued 2002 season.
"Hopefully he can have some fun at it, because I had fun at it," Posada said. "Ivan is having a great year."
He jumped to the National League ballot when he signed with Florida last year, but couldn't beat Javy Lopez and his torrid first half. He ended up being one of the more publicized snubs of the Senior Circuit.
Since then, the 32-year-old Rodriguez has added to his already impressive resume. He helped lead the Marlins to a World Series title, collecting NLCS MVP honors along the way to his first championship. He then jumped leagues again when he signed a 4-year, $40 million deal to join the Tigers.
The migration from the defending world champions to a team that lost an AL record 119 games this year did about as little to harm his popularity as it did to his stats. Barring a week-long slump to close out the first half, he'll head into the break leading the AL in batting average. No catcher has finished the season with as high an average as the .377 clip Pudge had after Sunday's game.
A large part of that hitting prowess came in June, when Rodriguez became the third player in 25 years to hit .500 or better in a calendar month with at least 75 at-bats.
Ivan Rodriguez / C
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
While each balloting release made Rodriguez's All-Star chances look more and more certain, Guillen's case was one of suspense. Despite arguably the best season among Major League shortstops to this point, he barely cracked the top five at the position in balloting.
Part of that was his past history. He entered the year with a .264 career Major League average and 29 home runs in parts of six seasons. He was traded to the Tigers in January after the Mariners signed free agent Rich Aurilia.
The move from Seattle set up a breakout season. Guillen's 11 home runs not only represent a career high, but they also lead a Tigers roster that boasts power hitters Dmitri Young and Rondell White.
From a pure hitting standpoint, Guillen entered Sunday leading Major League shortstops with a .394 on-base percentage and .954 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). His .328 batting average trailed only Texas' Michael Young among AL shortstops, while his .560 slugging percentage ranked second to Chicago's Jose Valentin.
"To me, I felt like I made it, you know," Guillen said Sunday. "I had pretty good numbers. I understand there's a lot of good shortstops. You've got (Miguel) Tejada, Michael Young, they have good numbers. I'm very happy."
Trammell felt so strongly about Guillen's season that he called Torre Saturday afternoon to put in a good word. He called him soon after the Yankees' loss to the Mets, but that didn't seem to matter.
Carlos Guillen / SS
Weight: 205 lbs
Bats: S / Throws: R
"I wouldn't have made the call if I didn't think it was worthwhile," Trammell said.
It didn't make a difference because Torre had already decided to take him. He was one of two picks Torre made after making sure all AL teams were represented.
"He kept making a case for Carlos Guillen," Torre said, "and he wouldn't let me break in to tell him that he already made the team. We got cut off and he called back, so I let him finish. Then I told him he was on the team before he spoke to me, so he was excited for him.
"Guillen, when you see what he's done, the number of RBIs, that was a really easy decision."
Guillen himself wasn't so sure. He had just bought airline tickets for him and his family to go back to Venezuela over the All-Star break. Luckily for him, they're refundable.
"I'll have to buy more tickets," Guillen joked.
Travis Fryman and Mickey Tettleton were the last pair of Tigers to make the All-Star Game back in '94. Both were selected as reserves. The Tigers haven't had a starter and a reserve in the same game since 1986.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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