All-Star Break Is Familiar to Griffey

From Associated Press

For the second consecutive year, Ken Griffey Jr. was voted to start in the All-Star game. And for the second consecutive year, a hand injury will deny fans a chance to see him play.

The Seattle Mariner center fielder was the top vote-getter in the final fan balloting announced Monday for the July 9 All-Star game in Philadelphia.

Sidelined because of a broken hand, Griffey received 3,064,814 votes--more than 500,000 more than the next closest player, Baltimore shortstop Cal Ripken.

But after injuring his right hand while fouling off a pitch on June 19, Griffey underwent surgery and is expected to miss at least a month. He had to sit out last year's All-Star game in Texas after breaking his left wrist while making a spectacular catch.

"I'm really disappointed," Griffey said before Monday night's game with Oakland. "Last year I didn't play. Now I'm going through it again."

With Griffey out, it's up to AL Manager Mike Hargrove to choose another starter. The likely pick is the fourth-place finisher, Baltimore's Brady Anderson, who leads the majors with 28 homers.

"I just hope I make it," Anderson said after Baltimore's 7-4 win at Toronto on Monday. "It would have been nice to be voted in, but I can't actually say I expected it. If I make the team and they choose to start me, that would be great."

Mike Piazza finished second to Griffey overall and first among NL players in the voting.

Piazza, leading the league in hitting, was named on 2,272,115 ballots. The Dodger catcher will be making his fourth All-Star appearance, third as a starter.

Major league baseball announced that more than 10 million ballots were cast, an increase of 73% over last year's total.

Joining Griffey in the AL's starting outfield were Cleveland teammates Albert Belle and Kenny Lofton. Belle, the temperamental slugger, received 1,692,409 votes and Lofton had 1,337,262.

Ripken, the top vote-getter in 1995, will be making his 12th All-Star appearance. He received 2,550,275 votes, easily outdistancing Cleveland's Omar Vizquel.

Ripken's teammate, Roberto Alomar, will start at second base and New York's Wade Boggs was named the AL's starter at third. Alomar will be playing in his fifth All-Star Game and Boggs his 10th.

Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez and first baseman Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox round out the AL starters.

Barry Bonds of San Francisco, Tony Gwynn of San Diego and Dante Bichette of Colorado were voted starters in the NL's outfield.

Bichette, named to his first All-Star team, had not placed among the top three outfielders since the preliminary voting was announced June 4. However, he overtook Atlanta's David Justice and Montreal's Henry Rodriguez recently.

The NL's infield includes Atlanta's Fred McGriff at first base, Houston's Craig Biggio at second, San Francisco's Matt Williams at third and Cincinnati's Barry Larkin at shortstop.

Hargrove and NL Manager Bobby Cox of Atlanta are to announce reserves and pitchers today.

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