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07/11/07 3:15 AM EST

Cabrera achieves All-Star goal

Despite sore shoulder, Marlins slugger gets at-bat on Tuesday

SAN FRANCISCO -- Miguel Cabrera was among the first National League players to report to AT&T Park on Tuesday, and the Marlins third baseman had a goal in mind.

His jammed left shoulder heavily wrapped in an ice encasement to reduce any remaining inflammation, the 24-year-old Cabrera pronounced himself ready -- prepared to contribute to the NL's effort in the 78th annual All-Star Game if necessary, and more importantly for the Marlins, their second-half campaign.

"It's much better," Cabrera said. "I don't think it's a problem."

Cabrera achieved his goal of appearing in his third All-Star Game in the second inning on Tuesday, though the results weren't ideal. Cabrera pinch-hit for pitcher Brad Penny and, facing American League starter Dan Haren, struck out swinging on a 1-2 curve ball to end the inning.

It was progress, though, considering that Cabrera came to San Francisco unsure if he'd be able to leave the bench. Cabrera injured his left shoulder while diving for a ground ball in the sixth inning of Florida's 7-2 victory at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, and was a late scratch from the next day's game.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez met with Cabrera at about 4 p.m. ET in the National League clubhouse and conversed for about five minutes.

Gonzalez said that Cabrera is "fine" and that the injury is not considered something that could hinder him going forward. Cabrera reported that he continued to feel improvement in his mobility overnight.

Though he was forced to sit out the Home Run Derby on Monday afternoon at AT&T Park, a competition eventually won by the Angels' Vladimir Guerrero, Cabrera said he was happy and thankful that he had come to be part of the festivities in this, his fourth All-Star selection.

"You've got to come, man," Cabrera said. "You know what I mean? You never know when you're going to be an All-Star again. You've got to come here and have fun and see all the different people out here.

"Every experience at the All-Star Game is one that you're going to remember, because you never know when it's going to happen again. You've got to enjoy every little bit of everything and have fun."

Likewise, Gonzalez lauded Cabrera's decision to attend.

All-Star Game Coverage

"It's important," Gonzalez said. "He's an All-Star. He should come out and represent the team."

Gonzalez had another reason to tout the experience of spending time at the All-Star Game; his own adventures this week listening to tales in Tony La Russa's manager's office.

"It's been a great experience for me," Gonzalez said. "The best part has been to come out and sit here in the manager's office with guys like Willie McCovey -- legends and Hall of Famers -- and just sit and listen to some of their stories. For a baseball fan like myself, it's been pretty great to be a part of."

Cabrera had said before the Home Run Derby -- where Colorado's Matt Holliday took his place -- that he would spend his afternoon pulling for Guerrero and the Tigers' Magglio Ordonez.

When Guerrero pulled out a victory in the finals by defeating the Blue Jays' Alex Rios, Cabrera said he was just happy -- not feeling remorse that he was unable to participate.

"They did very good," Cabrera said. "They had fun over there, to see all the long balls going. I don't know how [their] experience is going to be, [but] I was happy for them. They did a good job."

Could Cabrera have trumped the outputs of Guerrero, who slugged 17 homers, or Rios, who led the competition with 19? He wasn't biting.

"That was very good," Cabrera said. "You never know."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.