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07/06/08 3:57 PM ET
Martin gets second straight All-Star nod
Catcher will represent Dodgers on National League squad
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Catcher Russell Martin has made his second consecutive National League All-Star team and will be the Dodgers' lone representative in the game to be played at Yankee Stadium on July 15. Cubs catcher Geovany Soto won the fan voting and will start behind the plate.
The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. PT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
The Midsummer Classic will be the fourth held at Yankee Stadium and the eighth in New York City. The Yankees previously hosted the All-Star Game in 1939, 1960 and 1977; the Polo Grounds held the game in 1934 and 1942; Ebbets Field was the site in 1949; and Shea Stadium hosted the 1964 tilt.
"I was nervous last year, my first time at an All-Star Game," said Martin. "This year, it'll be more relaxing and I'll enjoy it more. I've never played at Yankee Stadium and I'm fortunate to play there. A lot of guys will never have the opportunity."
The 25-year-old Martin, the first Canadian All-Star catcher, entered Sunday's play with team highs in batting average (.306), runs (47), walks (48) and on-base percentage (.403). He has nine home runs and eight steals, and he won the players' vote despite getting off to the worst start offensively (1-for-23) of his professional career.
"It's a popularity contest," said Martin, who did not rank in the top five in the fan voting after winning the starting berth a year ago. "It doesn't matter to me. I'm on the team, that's what counts."
Manager Joe Torre said Martin shares some leadership intangibles with Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter at this stage of their careers.
"He's pretty darn important for us, no question," Torre said earlier this year. "He does a lot of things to help us win. He catches, he hits, he runs the bases, and catchers usually don't have that ability. He has the ability to hit the ball to all fields. In [clutch] situations, the game doesn't speed up for him. He's had a lot of big at-bats for us."
Martin, who won the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards for NL catchers last year, leads all NL catchers this year in batting average, on-base percentage, runs, hits, walks and steals. Martin was originally a third baseman in the Minor Leagues and appeared so comfortable at the position taking ground balls that Torre has started him there six times in the first half of this season.
The genesis of the experiment was the desire by Torre to give Martin a rest from the physical demands of catching without losing his bat from the lineup. It seems to be working.
"I feel so much better now than this time last year," said Martin. "I don't know if it's because I'm playing third base occasionally, but I seem to have a lot more energy."
Martin was drafted in 2002, and his selection last year was a milestone in the rebirth of the Dodgers' scouting and player-development system. The most recent Draft to produce a Dodgers All-Star was 1993, when they took 25th-rounder Paul Lo Duca (Paul Konerko was drafted in 1994 and became an All-Star for the White Sox; Ted Lilly was drafted in 1996 and became an All-Star for Toronto).
Catchers Martin, Lo Duca and Mike Piazza are the only Dodgers drafted since 1979 to become All-Stars for the club. Martin is the first position player to be an All-Star in consecutive seasons since Lo Duca in 2003-04.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.