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Cabrera, Uggla named All-Stars

Cabrera, Uggla named All-Stars

MIAMI -- A gritty rookie and seasoned 23-year-old sensation will represent the Marlins in the All-Star Game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Achieving the high honor of being picked by their peers are Dan Uggla and Miguel Cabrera.

Making their selections more impressive is the fact that they were voted in by the players, coaches and managers.

"The best way to be recognized is by your peers," Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. "The people you want to have respecting you are your peers, because those are the people who know who you are, and what type of player you are. I'm not slighting the fans. The fans don't deal with them on a daily basis. They don't have to slide into second and watch him turn a double play. They don't have to face him. I'm not taking anything away from the fans. But the best respect you can have are from the players."

In many ways, Uggla typifies the underdog Marlins, the team with by far the lowest payroll in the league. While the Marlins are still battling to reach the .500 mark, they have been one of the hottest teams in the league the past five weeks. Now two players have been recognized as All-Stars.

Uggla, the hard-nosed second baseman, is the only rookie on the NL squad. Cabrera, meanwhile, will be in the Midsummer Classic for the third straight season, but first as a third baseman.

Selected twice before as an outfielder, Cabrera joins Mike Lowell (2002-2004) and Luis Castillo (2002-2003 and 2005) as the only Marlins to be picked three times. Only Lowell and Cabrera have made it three consecutive times.

"I was a little choked up," Uggla said of being informed in Girardi's office just prior to Sunday's game against the Red Sox at Dolphin Stadium.

Upon hearing the news, Uggla gave Girardi a hug.

"It's obviously exciting," the 26-year-old rookie said. "Of course I wanted to make it, but I wasn't really worried about it to the point that is all I was thinking about. If I made it, awesome. If not, I'm still going to go on tomorrow."

Now in its fifth year, the Monster.com 2006 All-Star Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final position player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Chevrolet, and continues until 6 p.m. ET Thursday. The winners will be announced on ESPN and MLB.com shortly thereafter.

There are two ways for fans to vote for the 2006 All-Star Final Vote -- online now at MLB.com, or on-the-go from their cell phones. Fans can also text the word "VOTE" to 36197 to receive the All-Star Final Vote Candidates sent to your phone. To vote for a specific player, simply reply with your choice. For $.30 per text message vote, fans will have the freedom to vote from wherever they are. Fans can get the mobile ballot now.

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final position 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 Chevrolet at the 77th All-Star Game via the Monster 2006 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com.

The All-Star Game, to be held at Pittsburgh's PNC Park on Tuesday, July 11, at 8 p.m. ET, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised 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.

One of the premiere hitters in the league, Cabrera has ranked among the league's leading hitters all season. He also is on pace for driving in 100 runs for the third straight year. A year ago, Cabrera became the youngest player in Major League history to post successive 30 home run seasons.

With his pure power and ability to hit for a high average, Cabrera has drawn comparisons to Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols.

"Everybody wants to be an All-Star," Cabrera said. "Everybody wants to go to the All-Star Game, because everybody is watching."

While Cabrera has some explosive power, as he showed with his 402-foot home run Sunday, he said he doesn't expect to participate in the Home Run Derby.

"They haven't asked me, and I don't have the numbers," Cabrera said.

The Venezuela native has been a sensation since breaking into the big leagues as a rookie in 2003. Promoted then from Double-A Carolina in June at the age 20, Cabrera was a leading reason why the Marlins won the World Series. A third baseman in the Minor Leagues, he switched to left field and batted cleanup in the World Series.

This is his first big league season at third base. In 2005, Cabrera also was a Silver Slugger Award winner, and this spring he represented Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

During Girardi's playing days, he recalls being on a rehab assignment while he was catching for the Cardinals. That day, Girardi was playing in a Double-A contest against the Carolina Mudcats. Cabrera came to bat as a 20-year-old.

"I said, 'What are you still doing here?' He's an amazing player," Girardi said. "He's still a kid. He's making All-Star teams while kids his age are still in college."

Uggla has become an inspirational success story.

The Marlins claimed Uggla in the Rule 5 Draft last December. Drafted and groomed in the Arizona system, the second baseman was left off the Diamondbacks' 40-man roster, clearing the way for him to be selected by Florida.

A resident of Columbia, Tenn., Uggla (pronounced UGH-gla) has made a name for himself. Unpolished defensively early in Spring Training, he has made steady progress in the field. At the plate, his numbers rank right up there with the best second basemen in the game.

Batting mostly in the second spot, he has shown the ability to hit for average and power. He leads all rookies in batting average, as well as being second among rookies in home runs and RBIs.

Marlins teammate Dontrelle Willis, a two-time All-Star, is glad to see Uggla being honored as a rookie. In 2003, Willis' rookie year, the left-hander was added to the roster when Kevin Brown was scratched because of an injury.

"I'm just happy that Dan is being recognized regardless of him being a rookie," Willis said. "In my case, when I was a rookie, I almost didn't make it. But it's good to see him, and it's good for baseball."

This is the sixth straight year the Marlins are sending more than one player to the All-Star Game. In 2004 and 2005, the club sent a team-best four.

Joe Frisaro 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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