07/13/2004 11:54 PM ET
Notes: Hicks happy with A-Rod deal
Rangers owner proud of All-Stars Soriano, Rodriguez
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- When Rangers owner Tom Hicks saw Alfonso Soriano entering the playing field during batting practice Tuesday afternoon, he approached his team's All-Star second baseman, shook his hand and gave that Rangers cap a nice pat.
"I told him, 'That hat looks real good on you right now, Alfonso,'" Hicks said.
Soriano flashed his winning smile and went to work for the American League All-Star team, and Hicks watched him jog off with a proud smile of his own.
"You know, tonight's about baseball, not about the teams," Hicks said. "It's about the star players. I'm just glad five of them them are Rangers, and I'm happy for the others who used to be Rangers."
That includes a certain other member of the Yankees: Alex Rodriguez. Hicks and Rodriguez exchanged pleasantries before the BP session as well.
For Hicks, the scene brought back into focus how a whirlwind series of events has turned into a win-win for the Rangers and Rodriguez.
"He and I talked about all that before we made the decision," Hicks said. "We thought at the time that it might work out for the best for both teams, and I think we'd all agree that it has."
Aside from Soriano, who was acquired as part of the deal that sent A-Rod to the Yankees in February and was this year's leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game, the Rangers also were represented by 2003 All-Star hero Hank Blalock, shortstop Michael Young, starter Kenny Rogers and reliever Francisco Cordero.
Proud to pass torch: Jason Giambi originally set the record for most homers in a round in the Home Run Derby in 2001 with 14, tied by Albert Pujols last year. But Giambi didn't mind that Miguel Tejada, his former teammate with the A's, knocked them off the top of the list.
"He's a good friend of mine, so I was happy for him," said Giambi, who dropped out of the Derby and opened up the spot for Tejada.
The 2002 champ said he expected someone to break his record at Minute Maid Park, particularly a right-handed hitter.
|Alfonso Soriano admires his three-run homer as Mike Piazza looks on. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)
"When I heard they were going to open the roof, that clinched it," Giambi said. "I talked to [the Astros' Jeff] Bagwell, [Craig] Biggio and [Lance] Berkman, and they said that a right-hander could dominate if the roof was open."
While hometown boy Berkman sent the first run of homers out of the park in left, it was Tejada who took over the event by crushing balls onto and over the short porch in left.
"Coming in as a late replacement for me, he did a great job," Giambi said. "He owes me."
Full circle for Guillen: The personal pinnacle of Detroit shortstop Carlos Guillen's career was a return home, of sorts. Originally signed by Houston as a teen out of Venezuela, the first-time All-Star Guillen appreciates the role the Astros played in his career.
"This organization gave me a chance to come here to the U.S. to play ball," Guillen said prior to Tuesday's game. "They traded me to Seattle, but that gave me the chance to play in the big leagues."
Guillen's signing was part of the Astros' scouting efforts in Venezuela, where the organization also found Bobby Abreu and Freddy Garcia. While Abreu played parts of two seasons for the Astros, Guillen and Garcia were dealt to Seattle before they got in any action in the bigs.
"A lot of Venezuelans came to Houston," said Guillen, traded to Detroit this offseason and well on his way to his best season with a .324 average, 13 homers and 65 RBIs at the All-Star break. "We didn't play for Houston, but we got we got the chance to play somewhere else in the big leagues because of [the Astros]."
White boots: Rodriguez continued his own tradition, but put a spike mark in another when he wore white spikes in his first All-Star Game in a Yankees uniform.
Rodriguez has worn the white shoes, used regularly these days only by the Oakland A's, in the All-Star Game before, but they certainly clash with the black-and-gray of the Yankees' road unis -- and with the Yankees' black-shoes tradition.
The American League wasn't complaining too much in the fourth inning, though, when A-Rod used those shoes to motor around to third for a run-scoring triple.
Short hops: Gary Sheffield officially became the first player in All-Star Game history to represent five teams when he got into Tuesday's edition as a defensive replacement in right field. Sheffield previously represented the Padres (1992), Marlins ('93, '96), Dodgers (1998-2000) and the Braves (2003). ... The Angels' Francisco Rodriguez was the youngest player on the AL All-Star roster, at 22 years, 188 days of age. The Marlins' Miguel Cabrera was the youngest of all, at 21 years, 96 days. ... Left-hander Mark Mulder became the fifth A's pitcher to start an All-Star Game, following in the footsteps of Jim "Catfish" Hunter (1973), Vida Blue (1971, '75), Dave Stewart (1989) and Bob Welch (1990).
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.