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Bourn hopes All-Star nod is first of many

Bourn hopes All-Star nod is first of many

ANAHEIM -- As he looked around the ballroom during media day on Monday, Astros outfielder Michael Bourn felt like a rookie all over again.

"You don't know what to expect, you just keep looking around to see what everyone else is doing," the Astros outfielder said. "Everyone else has been here like seven or eight times, so you feel like the rookie. Look at how much [the] media is around Albert [Pujols] and [Tim] Lincecum."

The lack of attention did not bother Bourn, who was selected for his first All-Star Game.

"You're kind of low on the totem pole at this level, and that's fine. You've got to pay your dues, no problem," Bourn said. "It's an honor to be named to this team, and it's an honor to come and enjoy yourself and take it all in."

Bourn took comfort that two of his close friends, Arizona's Chris Young and Marlon Byrd of the Cubs, were both experiencing their first All-Star appearances with him. The trio talked about heading over to the field early Monday afternoon to make sure they had plenty of time to get ready for batting practice.

They also wanted to make sure they had plenty of time to experience the atmosphere.

"I'm just going to take it all in and enjoy the moment," Bourn said. "I think once I get out on the field and take BP, it will sink in a little. I won't forget my first time. Hopefully, there will be more, but you never forget the first time."

Bourn finished the season's first half hitting .255 with one homer and 20 RBIs through 85 games as Houston's leadoff hitter, but his blinding speed has made him one of the most exciting players in the game.

"Michael's value goes beyond just the batting average, homers and RBIs, the standard statistics people like to look at," said five-time All-Star teammate Lance Berkman. "He puts tremendous pressure on the defense every time he's at the plate. He's a game-changer in center field. He makes a huge difference on our team."

Bourn leads the National League in stolen bases with 28, outfield assists with eight and infield hits with 20. He also ranked third in bunt hits with six, and had made just one error this season. Bourn is the first Astros center fielder since Carlos Beltran in 2004 to make the All-Star team.

"The one thing about Michael is he can help you win in so many different ways, on the bases and defensively," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "It's outstanding that you can be able to do that, and he continues to do that on a daily basis."

Bourn was named the club's Most Valuable Player last year after hitting .285 with a .354 on-base percentage, 97 runs scored, 12 triples and a league-leading 61 stolen bases. He also took home his first career Gold Glove Award and appears on his way to winning another one with countless terrific catches already this year.

"He just brings so much to the table to help your ballclub win a game," Mills said. "That's the reason why [manager] Charlie [Manuel] wants him on the All-Star team. He can do a lot of things to help a ballclub win."

Bourn, a Houston native who played at the University of Houston, was acquired by the Astros from the Phillies on Nov. 7, 2007, as part of the Brad Lidge trade. He struggled his first year in his hometown, hitting .229 in 138 games, before enjoying a breakout season last year.

He grew up playing Little League baseball and remains close friends with Rays outfielder Carl Crawford, a fellow Houstonian who is starting for the American League.

Brian McTaggart and Steve Gilbert are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["all-star_game" ] }
{"content":["all-star_game" ] }