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Cubs trio headed to Houston
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07/04/2004  7:00 PM ET
Cubs trio headed to Houston
Sosa voted in as starter; Alou, Zambrano reserves
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Sammy Sosa (right) and Moises Alou will be in Houston for the 75th All-Star Game. (Denis Poroy/AP)

CHICAGO -- Sammy Sosa is part of a dream outfield, Carlos Zambrano is having a dream season and Moises Alou probably never dreamed he'd be an All-Star again after his first year in Chicago.

The trio of Chicago Cubs players all are headed to Houston. They're All-Stars.

Sosa is part of a 500 dream team, named to the starting outfield for the National League All-Star team, joining fellow 500 home run hitters Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds.

"It's an honor for me to be there with Mr. Barry Bonds and Griffey," Sosa said Sunday. "I'm really going to enjoy it. I don't know if that will ever happen again. It's a situation that's happened, and it's happened to good people."

   Sammy Sosa  /   RF
Born: 11/12/68
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Sosa, 35, earned a spot in the final balloting, released Sunday, receiving 2,197,255 votes. Bonds garnered 2,952,237 votes and Griffey received 2,837,237. It's the seventh time Sosa has been selected to the All-Star team. He is 1-for-11 with no homers in five previous All-Star Games; he did not play in 1998 because of a sore shoulder.

Sosa will have company. Alou and Zambrano also were named to the National League roster, both chosen by the players on their ballots.

For Alou, it's his fifth trip and first since 2001, when he played for the Astros. The All-Star selection is a nice birthday present for the veteran, who turned 38 on Saturday.

He leads the Cubs in home runs, and put together two streaks in which he connected in three consecutive games. On May 19 against San Francisco, he beat his dad, Giants manager Felipe Alou, with a 10th-inning walk-off homer for a 4-3 Cubs win.

Greeted by loud choruses of "Al-OOOO" each at-bat, the outfielder has revived his career after a disappointing first season in Chicago in 2002, when he hit .275 with 15 homers and 61 RBIs. Last year, he hit .280 with 22 homers and 91 RBIs, and gained attention for a foul ball he didn't catch during the National League Championship Series against Florida.

2004 All-Star Game

"I want to thank all my teammates, ex-teammates and friends and players in the league who voted for me," Alou said. "To tell you the truth, this is the one I'm most proud of because I was picked by players and coaches. I'm very honored to be picked like that. I'm very proud to be picked as a Cub. That was one of my goals. I've been with four diffrerent teams and never as a Cub."

Alou does like the All-Star spotlight, and is 3-for-7 in the four games he's played. In 1994, he hit a game- winning RBI double in the 10th inning in the National League's 8-7 victory.

Before the season started, Alou was thinking it would be his last. He misses his family, which lives in the Dominican Republic. Now, he's changed his mind.

"This was going to be my last year," Alou said. "That was before Spring Training. Now, I've decided I wanted to play a couple more years.

"When I go up to bat, the pitchers are really careful, the opposing managers are pitching around me," he said. "I'm cleaning up for one of the best teams in baseball right now. If I wasn't doing that or performing, or hitting seventh or eighth, I'd feel differently.

   Moises Alou  /   RF
Born: 07/03/66
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

"The day I don't feel like I can perform, I'm going to go home," he said. "It's not about the money, it's about feeling good about yourself. I might not be, but I feel I'm one of the best players in the league. As long as I feel like that, I'll keep on playing."

Zambrano can now boast about being one of the best pitchers in the league. The young right-handed pitcher has emerged from the shadow of Cubs stars Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, who were both All-Stars last year but have been slowed by injuries this season.

"It's natural maturing," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "He's no longer a secret."

Zambrano ranks among NL leaders with a 2.41 ERA, nine wins, 108 1/3 innings, and 99 strikeouts. He's 6- 0 with a 1.41 ERA at Wrigley Field, and opposing batters have mustered a .215 average against him.

"Before, when I was in Double-A and Single-A, I never thought about (being an All-Star)," Zambrano said. "It's an extra gift from God. When I was in the minor leagues, I would think about winning the Cy Young, and I would think about having a chance to be in the World Series, but I never thought about being on the All-Star team.

"It's an honor for me, and not only for me but for my teammates and my coaches and everybody who helped me this year," he said.

The animated Venezuelan, who turned 23 on June 1, devoted himself this offseason to a better fitness program and trimmed 15 pounds. He's a horse and has topped 120 pitches in his last three starts.

   Carlos Zambrano  /   P
Born: 06/01/81
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 255 lbs
Bats: S / Throws: R

"I feel strong. I can throw 120, 150 -- whatever they need me for, I'll be there," Zambrano said.

"He's a young man," Baker said earlier this season of Zambrano. "Most guys 22 (years old) are just getting out of college. They're still in A ball. This guy's been to the playoffs. Think about how far he's come in the last year versus whatever negatives we can come up with. Think about how far he can go."

Zambrano's family was in Venezuela. They'll make the trip to Houston on Monday.

"It's hard to come from another country and be expected to have it all together," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "He's done a heck of a job and changed a lot for the better."

This will be the first time the Cubs have had three players go to the All-Star Game since 1995 when Mark Grace, Randy Myers and Sosa were selected.

Sosa hit his 14th home run Saturday, and ranks ninth on the all-time home run list with 553. Next up is Reggie Jackson at 563. Bonds is closing in on 700 home runs, while Griffey joined the 500-club this year.

The Cubs slugger earned the spot on the NL team despite missing 30 games because of a sneeze-induced back strain. Since returning from the disabled list June 18, he is 11-for-48 with one double, three homers and eight RBIs, entering Sunday's Wind City crosstown finale.

On June 27, Sosa notched his 65th career multi-homer game, hitting home runs Nos. 11 and 12 against the Chicago White Sox.

The All-Star Game will be played July 13 at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Sosa is expected to take part in the Home Run Derby held July 12.

"How can they leave me out?" Sosa said of the contest. "It's something I enjoy the most. All the fans go there. It's in a good hitting park, in Houston. Hopefully, I can put on a show like I've done. If I win, it's OK. If I don't win, it doesn't matter. I just want to make everybody happy and enjoy the show."

The National League's top vote-getter in 1999, Sosa is the first player in NL history to have nine consecutive 100-RBI seasons, and the first in the NL to hit 40 homers in six consecutive seasons.

"This means a lot," Sosa said of being selected. "That's what every player works for. I've been blessed and I appreciate the fans supporting me. I'm very happy to receive the support."

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

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