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Ichiro hits mark as All-Star selection

Ichiro hits the mark as All-Star selection

SEATTLE -- Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki once again stands alone as a Mariners All-Star.

For the second consecutive season, Ichiro will be the Mariners' only representative at the Midsummer Classic. But this time -- the first time in his Major League career -- Ichiro is on the American League roster as a backup outfielder.

He was a starter in each of his first four years in the big leagues.

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"As a player, you obviously want to make the All-Star team," he said. "We have struggled as a team in the first half and I have struggled in the first half, but I am thankful for the fans who are rooting for me, cheering for me and voted for me. I hope that I can do well for those fans."

The All-Star Game, to be held at Detroit's Comerica Park on Tuesday, July 12 at 8 p.m. ET, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and around the world by Major League Baseball International.  ESPN Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.

For the first time since 1989, when veteran outfielder Jeffrey Leonard was the lone Seattle representative, the Mariners didn't have a starter selected in the voting process. Ichiro was among the top three vote-getters for most of the voting period, but fell out of the starting picture a week ago.

By his own high standards, Ichiro is having an off season.

He came out Sunday's game against the Rangers with .300 batting average (100-for-333), six home runs, 27 RBIs and a career-high-matching eight triples. The only player in modern Major League history to have at least 200 hits in his first four seasons, Ichiro is slightly ahead of pace to reach that plateau again.

Going into the final weekend of voting, Ichiro said he wasn't sure if he would be selected to the 32-player All-Star team.

Most of the Mariners players considered left-handed closer Eddie Guardado to be a lock, based on his 19 saves in 20 save chances and a 1.61 ERA. He made it 20-for-21 by saving Sunday's 2-1 victory over the Rangers.

But Guardado was not selected and, barring an injury to one of the five relievers chosen, he will be spending the three-day All-Star break at his Anaheim home with his family.

"It would be an honor to be selected to the All-Star team and represent Seattle," he said. "I guess it just wasn't my time. I will go home and spend the three days off with my family. I will kick back by pool, have a barbeque and enjoy the time. Seven days at home will be great."

Guardado's home is near Anaheim, Calif., which is where the Mariners end the first half of the season.

All-Star Game 2005

"I don't know who selects the All-Star team, but it's out of my control," he added. "Sure, it's a little bit of a damper, but I have to keep going. I just go out there and pitch and see what happens."

First baseman Richie Sexson also was regarded as a potential All-Star, based primarily on his 17 home runs and 57 RBIs -- ranking high in both categories among the AL leaders.

Until last season, the Mariners had been well-represented at the Midsummer Classic, sending five players in 2003 -- Ichiro, Edgar Martinez, Shigetoshi Hasegawa and Bret Boone. Three Mariners went to the '02 game while a club-record eight players were selected to the 2001 All-Star Game played at Safeco Field.

"Although Ichiro is not having an Ichiro-like year, so far, I think he is an All-Star and totally agree with his selection and am very happy for him," manager Mike Hargrove said. "I was hoping to get one or two more, but it doesn't surprise me that we didn't.

"The thing of it is, picking the All-Star team is an absolutely thankless job. You could expand that roster to 50 and still leave deserving people off. Yeah, I thought what Eddie has done even before today's game, I would have thought he would have made it."

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

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