07/02/06 9:05 PM ET
Familiar face, fresh face are All-Stars
Ichiro, Lopez representing Mariners in Pittsburgh
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki will make his sixth All-Star Game appearance and will start for the American League, and Jose Lopez -- a replacement for injured New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano -- will make his first appearance as a reserve.
It was only a week ago that Ichiro -- who leads the Majors with 127 hits -- moved past New York's Johnny Damon into the third and final starting spot in the outfield for manager Ozzie Guillen, of the Chicago White Sox.
Ichiro was voted in alongside Vladimir Guerrero of the Los Angeles Angels and Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox.
"I wasn't voted in last year, so for the fans to vote me in is very honorable for me," Ichiro said after Seattle's 4-3 loss in 11 innings to Colorado at Safeco Field on Sunday. "It's a big deal to not make the starting lineup one year and then make it the next."
Ichiro was a starter in four of his previous five All-Star Game appearances. He didn't start the 2005 All-Star Game, in Detroit, but hit a two-run single in the fourth inning off Livan Hernandez.
Ichiro started the season slowly -- well, slowly by his standards -- hitting .287 in April before getting hot at the plate in May (.371) and June (.386). He's already had hitting streaks of 18 and 20 games this season.
"He's an amazing hitter," manager Mike Hargrove said. "I wouldn't put anything outside the realm of possibility with him."
The 22-year-old Lopez has been a pleasant surprise for the Mariners this season, as he's leading the team in triples (seven), is tied for second in hits (92) and is second in RBIs (57). He is batting .282.
He replaces Cano, who will not be able to participate in the All-Star Game because of an slightly torn left hamstring.
A year ago, Lopez began the season as the team's starting second baseman but was sent to Triple-A Tacoma because he was too pull-conscious and didn't hit the ball up the middle or to the opposite field.
After working closely with hitting coach Jeff Pentland in Spring Training, Lopez has become a better all-around hitter and has already come up with several big hits to the opposite field.
"It's such a proud moment for me," said Lopez, beaming while talking to reporters. "It was a huge surprise to me. I didn't think I'd get here this early in my career."
The All-Star Game, to be held at Pittsburgh's PNC Park on Tuesday, July 11, at 5 p.m. PT, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage on the Internet.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.