LOS ANGELES -- Drawing from a coast-to-coast fan base, Dodgers first baseman Nomar Garciaparra won the final roster spot on the National League All-Star team Thursday through the Monster 2006 Final Vote election. Garciaparra comfortably defeated the runner-up, Milwaukee pitcher Chris Capuano, by garnering roughly 4 million votes. Philadelphia outfielder Bobby Abreu, New York Mets pitcher Billy Wagner and San Diego pitcher Chris Young were also candidates. "It's always an honor to go to the All-Star Game, whether you're selected by the fans, as a reserve or in this manner," said Garciaparra. "I didn't come into the season with the intention of making the All-Star Game, and when you are selected, it's nothing I've done. I wish I could take the whole team."
Garciaparra is among NL batting leaders with a .359 average, he has a current 17-game hitting streak and he remains among the NL leaders in on-base percentage (.426) and slugging percentage (.582). He is also the hardest player in the Major Leagues to strike out, as he has fanned just 14 times or once every 20.3 plate appearances. But Albert Pujols of the Cardinals, Ryan Howard of the Phillies and Lance Berkman of the Astros were standing in his way at first base in the NL. The Dodgers put on an aggressive grassroots campaign to get out the vote. "I'm really thankful to the Dodgers organization; they've been great, pulling for me," Garciaparra said. "I've been on the big screen so much, I'm tired of seeing my face. But I appreciate it greatly that the fans took the time to vote for me. I've been very blessed to have such wonderful fan support wherever I've played." The selection is the sixth in Garciaparra's career, but the first at a new position for a new team in a different league. Garciaparra joins Dodgers starter Brad Penny on the All-Star team. "He deserved it," said Penny. "He's a big part of the reason I'm going." For Garciaparra, 33 later this month, the honor is vindication for one of Major League Baseball's most popular and accomplished players of the last decade. A two-time batting champion and five-time All-Star shortstop in Boston, Garciaparra had to look for work last winter when many clubs thought his best days were behind him. A five-time American League All-Star shortstop with the Boston Red Sox, the native of Southern California accepted a one-year, incentive-laden contract and the challenge of learning a new position to play at home. He spent the bulk of Spring Training focusing on defense and his bat appeared sluggish. When he suffered a pulled rib-cage muscle the last weekend of spring that put him on the disabled list, it looked like his injury-prone tag would stick.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.