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Wigginton excited for first All-Star Game

Wigginton excited for first All-Star Game

ANAHEIM -- The Orioles' Ty Wigginton might be the club's lone representative at this year's All-Star Game, but Tigers outfielder Johnny Damon is glad the utility man was selected to his first Midsummer Classic because he "plays the game the right way."

"When Johnny told me that, it was one of the best compliments I ever received," said Wigginton, who will be present at an All-Star Game for the first time since he watched from the stands in San Diego as a kid in 1992. "I guess I never looked at this game from a total numbers perspective. I look at how guys play the game."

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During a media session on Monday morning, it still didn't hit Wigginton that he is an All-Star. The 32-year-old felt he went into the break with better numbers in other years.

"You don't judge myself as an All-Star," Wigginton said. "It's pretty weird walking around here and seeing all the greats who play this game standing around. It's pretty neat."

The numbers show why Wigginton deserved to be a member of the All-Star team. Thrust into an everyday infield role with second baseman Brian Roberts injured and third baseman Garrett Atkins ineffective, Wigginton has enjoyed a resurgent year and went into the break hitting .252 with a team-leading 14 homers and 44 RBIs.

"As we all know, in Spring Training, we didn't even know if Wiggy was going to be on the club," said interim manager Juan Samuel, who was a three-time All-Star as a player.

"Just look what happened. Brian got hurt and he got a chance to play. If you could imagine us without Wiggy's numbers the first few months of the season, where would we have been? He was the guy carrying the club. It was really nice to see. He deserves it; he's been a model guy for us."

Wigginton said the closest he had come to being an All-Star was in 2006 with the Rays. He finished that season with 24 homers and 79 RBIs, but he is on pace to eclipse both those marks this year.

"I knew I'd get an opportunity to get in there every day, and I felt when I got that opportunity, I had to take advantage of it," Wigginton said. "And I did that early."

Wigginton has had a journeyman-type of career in the big leagues. Drafted in the 17th round in the 1998 First-Year Player Draft by the Mets, Wigginton played two-plus seasons in New York before being traded to the Pirates in the summer of '04.

After the 2005 season, Wigginton was released by the Pirates before signing with the Rays. After a year-plus with the Rays, Wigginton was dealt to the Astros for pitcher Dan Wheeler on June 27, 2007, before joining the Orioles as a free agent in February '09.

Asked if the long journey to the All-Star Game was worth it, Wigginton said, "I would say it was worth it even if I wasn't here. Ever since I was a little kid, all I dreamed about was getting to play Major League baseball, and I'm getting to live that dream."

Several members of Wiggington's family, including his wife, three children and parents, will live the dream with him during All-Star week.

"They are all definitely excited," Wigginton said. "I'm sure they will look back and cherish this forever."

Once the All-Star festivities are over, Wiggington reportedly will play for a new manager. Reports indicate that Buck Showalter will be at the helm, replacing Samuel.

"I've heard a lot of good things about him. I know whereever he goes, he seems to win," Wigginton said about Showalter. "Right now, we have Juan Samuel and he is doing a great job as well."

Wigginton said he hasn't been told anything about a new manager and hopes that the 29-59 Orioles, who ended the first half by sweeping the Rangers in four games, can continue to play winning baseball.

"Hopefully the sweep will jump-start us," Wigginton said. "Hopefully we could carry it over after this little break and start playing the kind of baseball we are capable of. During the first half, we got a away from that a lot. It makes for tough year."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. MLB.com reporter Brittany Ghiroli contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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