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Holliday, Fuentes are Pittsburgh-bound

Holliday, Fuentes are Pittsburgh-bound

SEATTLE -- Outfielder Matt Holliday attended an All-Star Game as a fan, at Coors Field in 1998, shortly after the Rockies drafted him out of Stillwater (Okla.) High. His uncle, Rockies scout Dave Holliday, obtained the tickets for Matt and his brother, Josh, but couldn't get his hands on more.

"They only had so many tickets, so my dad and mom were across the street, watching it on TV at one of the restaurants," said Holliday, who no doubt now has the pull to get his parents, and a host of other Hollidays, into Major League Baseball's 77th All-Star Game, being held at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on July 11.

Holliday -- whose grandmother lives in the Pittsburgh area and who has a large set of relatives there -- and left-handed closer Brian Fuentes were selected on Sunday to represent the Rockies at the Midsummer Classic.

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It'll be the second trip for Fuentes, 30, the first pitcher in club history to make more than one appearance. It will be the first time for Holliday, 26. The two also represented the Rockies on Team USA at the inaugural World Baseball Classic.

"I'm really happy that Matt got selected, for sure," Fuentes said. "He really deserves it. Being a small-market team, I wasn't sure. There was a shadow of a doubt, but there shouldn't have been if anybody was looking."

The invitations for Holliday and Fuentes are seen as validation for the Rockies, who haven't had multiple All-Stars since 2003, when Todd Helton, Preston Wilson and Shawn Chacon (injured at the time) participated in festivities at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field.

How many players would receive invitations from National League players and manager Phil Garner of the Astros was up for debate.

Holliday didn't make the top 15 among outfielders until Monday, and no player was in the top five at the other positions.

"Well-deserved opportunities for both of them," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We're very proud of them, very happy for them. We announced it to the club right before the ballgame, and everybody to a man was very excited for these two guys. They've earned their spots."

Holliday, chosen as a reserve, is batting .348, is tied with Brad Hawpe for the team lead with 15 home runs and is leading the club with 54 RBIs. He was fifth among NL outfielders as voted by the players.

He showed promise last year, when he batted .318, with 15 of his 19 homers after the All-Star break, and finished seventh in the league with a .307 average.

"I don't know if you ever think, 'This is the year I make the National League All-Star team,' " he said. "But I was confident coming into the year. I had a good second half last year, and I'd try to get better and play well. Sometimes, when you have the right motivation, good, individual awards will happen for you.

"A lot of credit goes to my teammates, too. If guys aren't on base or the guys behind you aren't playing well, sometimes you won't be presented with the same opportunities."

Fuentes, chosen to the squad for the second straight year, has succeeded in 15 of his 18 save chances. He is 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA, 43 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings and a .165 batting average against.

He was less confident that he would be invited than he was last year, when the Cardinals' matchup-oriented manager, Tony La Russa, ran the club. But Fuentes, who pitched 1 2/3 innings for the victory on Sunday, is not as familiar with Garner.

Fuentes is happy that he is going with a teammate and that he earned it with a contending club. Last year the Rockies were in last place in the NL West, and Fuentes couldn't help but feel he was the going only because it was mandatory that all teams be represented.

"Having two players in the organization selected is definitely a feather in the cap for the organization," he said.

ROCKIES ALL-STAR APPEARANCES

Player App. Seasons
1B Todd Helton 5 2000-04
OF Dante Bichette 4 1994-96, 1998
OF Larry Walker 4 1997-99, 2001
1B Andres Galarraga 3 1993, 1997-98
3B Vinny Castilla 2 1995, 1998
LHP Brian Fuentes 2 2005-06
OF Ellis Burks 1 1996
RHP Shawn Chacon 1 2003
3B Jeff Cirillo 1 2000
LHP Mike Hampton 1 2001
OF Matt Holliday 1 2006
OF Preston Wilson 1 2003
2B Eric Young 1 1996
Starters voted by fans: Helton: 2001, 2002, 2003; Walker, 1997, 1998, 19997; Bichette, 1996; Castilla, 1995

Thomas Harding 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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