Bourn blazes way to All-Star Game

Bourn blazes way to All-Star Game

HOUSTON -- One of the first things that Astros streak-of-lightning center fielder Michael Bourn did upon learning he had made the National League All-Star team for the first time in his career was call his father prior to Sunday's game in San Diego.

Raymond Bourn has been a lifelong coach and mentor to his oldest son, so you can only imagine the emotions -- the joy, the excitement, the elation -- that filled the Bourn household when Michael called home to Houston and broke the silence of an otherwise quiet Sunday morning.

"He called me this morning and told me the news, and I was elated," Raymond Bourn said. "I'm just thrilled that he made it. It's a great feat for him, and we're very happy for him."

Bourn was named as a reserve outfielder for the NL team, which will be managed by Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel, who was Bourn's first manager in the Major Leagues and was responsible for picking the speedster for the squad. The All-Star Game is July 13 in Anaheim.

"It's a fantastic feeling," said Bourn, who was informed Sunday morning by Astros general manager Ed Wade. "I'm excited that I was able to make that team, and you'll never forget your first one."

Bourn is hitting .260 with 48 runs scored, a .336 on-base percentage, one homer and 20 RBIs in the leadoff spot in the batting order. He leads the NL in stolen bases (25), outfield assists (eight) and infield hits (17) and is second in bunt hits (five). He's made one error and appears well on his way to his second consecutive Gold Glove.

"I really don't know what to expect, but everybody is telling me I'm going to have fun," Bourn said. "There are a lot of events that are going on, and I'll be moving around from this place to that place. I'm just going to try to take it all in and enjoy. I'm just going to sit there and watch the Home Run Derby and enjoy all of that."

Bourn is the first Astros center fielder to make the All-Star team since Carlos Beltran in 2004. Right-fielder Hunter Pence made the All-Star team last year, and left-fielder Carlos Lee was selected in 2007.

He's the only Astros player to make the team this year. A case could have been made for starting pitcher Roy Oswalt or closer Matt Lindstrom, but pitching is at a premium this year. Bourn's offensive numbers may not be catchy, but his impact on the bases and defensively are certainly All-Star worthy.

When the Astros were struggling offensively the first month of the season, Bourn and Jeff Keppinger were the two hitters who provided the offensive punch. Bourn hit .311 in April, and even though his average has dipped over the previous two months, he's had a huge impact on the club.

"He's well-deserving," Pence said. "I couldn't be happier for him or more proud of him. The guy has led the league in stolen bases last year and had a great season, and he's off to the same kind of start. At the top of the lineup when he's on base, he just kind of has a knack for scoring a lot of runs, and giving us a boost."

Fans, having already decided the starters and this week the final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.

The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

"It's absolutely outstanding," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "We're all thrilled to death for him. It's absolutely outstanding for that opportunity to be there with everyone. We're really excited about it. It's nice to see. That's good stuff."

Bourn, acquired by the Astros from the Phillies in the Brad Lidge trade in 2007, is off to a slow start at the plate in July (2-for-13 entering Sunday), and his offensive struggles certainly haven't gone unnoticed to his father, who coached him when he was young and always has advice.

"There's a couple of tweaks here and there that need to be worked out," Raymond Bourn said, "and once he gets those under his belt and learn how to hit more consistently to left field and realize they're pitching him different and throwing more changeups, offspeed stuff and sliders, he'll be OK."

Raymond and wife Carrie are already making plans to be with their son in Anaheim next week. Dad will have strong ties on the American League team as well with Houston native Carl Crawford being named as a starter for the American League.

Raymond Bourn coached his son and Crawford for several years while they were growing up on Houston's north side, all three remain extremely close today. Crawford and Bourn will be on the same field once again, and coach will be smiling from ear to ear.

"It's a double blessing for me because Carl Crawford is there, and to get to see him and talk to him and see Mike, it's a dream come true to have both of those guys," he said.

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