07/06/2003 6:35 PM ET
A-Rod, Blalock represent Rangers
Sixth All-Star Game for shortstop, first for third baseman
Cast your ballot in the etopps All-Star Final Vote
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
AL All-Star roster
NL All-Star roster
ARLINGTON -- Alex Rodriguez ended Cal Ripken's string of 13 consecutive starts at shortstop in the All-Star Game in 1997.
He hasn't looked back since.
Rodriguez along with third baseman Hank Blalock will represent the Rangers in the 2003 All-Star Game on July 15 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.
Rodriguez was elected as the AL's starting shortstop for the fourth consecutive year and the sixth time in the last seven seasons -- the second most selections by an AL shortstop to Ripken since fan balloting returned in 1970.
"This is something that never gets old and something that I'm very thankful for," Rodriguez said.
The shortstop is hitting .273 with a home run and one RBI in five All-Star Games. He has struck out in his last four All-Star at-bats since homering off Andy Ashby in the midsummer classic in Colorado in 1998.
"You can never expect or predict what the fans are going to do because the fans have their own favorite players," Rodriguez said. "I don't expect this. It's something that is out of my control. I do expect myself to go out and play well and I expect myself to play at an All-Star caliber level. But to be selected by the fans is something that is so far out of my control. I'm honored."
For the season, Rodriguez is hitting .297 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs.
Blalock, who was named to the team as a part of the first ever player/coaches/manager ballot, is making his first All-Star appearance.
The road to the All-Star Game has been an exciting one for the Southern Californian.
A splendid Spring Training landed him on the 2002 roster, but a rough start landed him back with the RedHawks. One year later, Blalock, 22, is an All-Star. The infielder is hitting .332 with 48 RBIs, 14 home runs and 50 runs scored. An anchor at the top of the lineup, Blalock has made 68 starts at third base and one at second base. He has committed 12 errors this season.
"It's a real good reward for sticking with it, going through last year, then improving in the off-season," Blalock said. "Then coming back and having a good first half.
"It feels really good to know that players around the league are able to notice me as a young first year player, to help me out and vote for me is a real big honor."
And with just 49 games of Major League experience prior to 2003 and 124 including this season, Blalock has played in the third fewest big league games ever for a Rangers player before his first All-Star Game.
Reliever Jeff Zimmerman was on the 1999 All-Star team as a rookie with 35 appearances and catcher Jim Sundberg was named as a reserve as rookie in 1974 with 72 games under his belt. Ivan Rodriguez was named to the team in 1992, his first full season with the big league club, but had appeared in 88 games with the Rangers in 1991.
"I've watched all the players, probably, anybody that was playing when I was a kid whether it was Sammy Sosa or Barry Bonds, all those guys were my heroes when I was little," Blalock said "It will be fun."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for
MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its