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All-Star Game a Rockies family affair

All-Star Game a family affair for Rockies

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PITTSBURGH -- Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday wasn't the only member of his family who has been spending practically his whole life preparing for his All-Star debut.

A regular presence in the Rockies' clubhouse is Jackson, the 2 1/2-year-old son of Matt and Leslee Holliday. He'll grab a bat as big as he is, take a left-handed stance and, at Dad's prompting, add a Todd Helton right leg kick to his swing or become a mirror image of Gary Sheffield flipping his wrists to make the bat look like a licorice whip before the pitch.

Holliday planned to take Jackson to the field for Monday's workout at PNC Park, where the game will take place Tuesday night, and let him shine.

"I hope I can get some of these guys and show them the work he's been doing," Holliday said. "I've got him working on Ichiro [Suzuki]. It looks pretty good. He does Nomar [Garciaparra] pretty good, too. I'll have to find Nomar and show him."

Left-handed pitcher Brian Fuentes and his wife, Barbara, also have their son, Giovanni Paolo, on hand for All-Star festivities. Maybe one day he'll come to the Midsummer Classic and show that he can mimic the left-handed, low-angle, short-armed delivery that earned his dad the nickname "T-Rex" from an opposing hitter.

But not yet.

Giovanni was born May 4, and the Fuentes couple adopted him that day. He won't remember his first All-Star Game, which is his dad's second. But his parents will make sure he won't forget it.

"Me and my wife were talking about it last night," said Fuentes, who figures to be used against American League left-handed hitters this year, after warming up twice but not appearing in last year's game in Detroit. "He's not going to remember this, but we're going to get it on camera and show him some footage when he's old enough. But he's just along for the ride right now."

The All-Star break is a busy time for both players, who have made it a family celebration.

Fuentes has brought 12 family members, a friend and his wife. After feeling like time raced by last year, he is more familiar and better able to enjoy the events. So if he and his wife want to partake in some of the All-Star festivities, Giovanni has plenty of potential babysitters.

Holliday has local roots. His parents would annually bring him to Uniontown, Pa., for Thanksgiving with his grandmother, who still lives there. It's a double celebration for the 15 or so Hollidays with tickets. Matt's father, Tom Holliday, on Friday agreed to leave his job as pitching coach at the University of Texas to become associate head coach at North Carolina State.

Being around loved ones and celebrating a strong first half is a good way for the pair to retool for the second half after an eventful and, finally, meaningful season thus far.

At 44-43, the Rockies are above .500 at the break for the fourth time in their 14 seasons of existence and the first time since 2003. At 3 1/2 games behind the National League West-leading Padres, they're in their best position in the standings at the break since they led the division in 1995.

Both come in on downers, however.

Fuentes entered Saturday's game against the Diamondbacks with the score tied, 1-1, in the ninth and unraveled, giving up a Chad Tracy grand slam and six of the seven runs the D-Backs scored in the inning. The Rockies rallied in the bottom of the inning but lost, 8-7.

Holliday dropped a fly ball and two runs scored in Sunday's 8-5 loss to the Diamondbacks. The Rockies suffered a three-game sweep.

"It was a disappointing weekend, but we had won five series in a row," Holliday said. "It will be nice to take a few days and kind of recover a little bit, relax and get ready for the second half."

Fuentes is happy that the games still matter. Last year, the Rockies were 16 games out in the division at the break.

"It's been kind of crazy this last week before the break," Fuentes said.

Crazy times are a good time for a little family time.

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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