07/15/09 1:19 AM ET
Pence happy to watch Tejada on stage
Astros outfielder left out of All-Star Game, as vet performs
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
The first-time All-Star was one of two National League position players -- the Pirates' Freddy Sanchez was the other -- to not see any action at Busch Stadium. But the only thing that left a bad taste in the 26-year-old's mouth was the final score.
"All in all, it was a good experience," Pence said. "We lost, so I'm a little bitter about that. Maybe I'll get in the game in the future -- that's something to work for.
"It was nice to be a part of seeing the best in baseball. Even though I didn't get to play, I still felt I was part of the team."
One of Pence's highlights, he said, was seeing his Astros teammate, Miguel Tejada, play in this setting. It's old hat for the veteran shortstop, making his sixth All-Star appearance. The 35-year-old still has the same exuberance for this game -- and, truthfully, for every game -- that he did in his first All-Star Game back in 2002. This year, of course, he got a first: meeting President Barack Obama.
"I was really excited," Tejada said. "It was the first time I've seen a President of the United States. For me, it was a great honor to shake his hand."
Unfortunately, Tejada didn't get to take anything tangible from the game itself. He entered the game as a defensive replacement, taking over for starter Hanley Ramirez in the top of the sixth inning. He got his first chance to add to his offensive All-Star resume -- it's one that includes a home run and MVP Award in 2005 -- in the seventh, facing Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.
The at-bat came right after Rays outfielder Carl Crawford robbed the Rockies' Brad Hawpe of a home run that would have given the National League a 4-3 lead. Tejada hit the ball hard as well, sending a first-pitch fastball the other way. But it died at the warning track and into right fielder Adam Jones' glove for the second out of the inning.
"I was thinking the ball was going to go a little bit farther," Tejada said. "I think the wind kind of hurt it a little bit."
Heading into this All-Star break, and while here in St. Louis, one of Tejada's primary jobs has been to heap praise onto his younger teammate, for his work ethic, for his energy and with the belief in the fact that fans should get used to seeing Pence in many future All-Star Games.
"Miggy is a great teammate. He believes in me and he talks me up," Pence said. "You have to go out there and play the games. A lot of things have to happen. There's a lot of luck involved. You have to be healthy. But I'm glad that he has faith in me. He's one of the greatest shortstops of all time. He can hit with anyone. I'm honored to be on his team here at the All-Star Game."
Tejada would have loved to actually share the field with Pence, even for just a little while. But he also was confident that even though he wanted to see Pence take some swings, his teammate would certainly take the "Did Not Play" in stride.
"Hunter's the kind of kid, I bet you he's just happy to be here," Tejada said. "I wish he could have had an at-bat, but that's just part of the game. I think for him, it was a great experience even if he didn't get in the game."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.