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El Caballo rides into Midsummer Classic

El Caballo rides into Midsummer Classic

HOUSTON -- Outfielder Carlos Lee had All-Star credentials when he signed his monster six-year contract last November, and in the first half of the season, his offense has lived up to expectations.

The two-time All-Star will become a three-timer on July 10, when Lee represents the Houston Astros at the All-Star Game at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

"I'm happy about it," Lee said. "It looks like everything you did out there for a half of the season is panning out. It's a great honor to go there. This is my third time and every time I go there, I enjoy it."

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The 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.

Through Sunday's game, Lee, 31, was hitting .293 (92-for-314) with a league-leading 68 RBIs over 82 games. He's tied for ninth in the National League with 22 doubles and 38 extra-base hits, and he's sixth with seven outfield assists.

"I try to be a more patient hitter, not try to do too much," Lee said. "Just try to take the little hit to right field or the ground ball back to the middle. That's probably the one thing I really work on."

After signing the first $100 million contract in club history, Lee appeared to be pressing in the very early stages of the season and admitted he was probably trying too hard. But by the second week in April, he had settled in and quickly became a force as the Astros' cleanup hitter.

"They signed me here because I've driven in runs consistently the last three or four years," Lee said. "Hitting 30 home runs, 110 RBIs. When they signed me, people said, 'What are you going to do now?' I said, 'Try to hit 30 and drive in 110.'

"Anything above that, I'll be happy. Just try to get the RBIs when they count, when the game's on the line."

Lee hit the fourth walk-off home run of his career last Thursday, a grand slam in the 11th inning that lifted the Astros to an 8-5 win over the Rockies. Lee has two walk-off home runs this season, and his grand slam was his second this year and 11th of his career.

Lee endeared himself to Astros fans immediately. On April 13 in Philadelphia, the left fielder hit three home runs to tie a club record. He became the 11th Astros player to accomplish the feat.

All-Star Game Coverage

His 41 hits in May were one shy of the club record for hits in a single month, and he also set career highs for that month in hitting, doubles, runs and on-base percentage.

On Sunday, Lee recorded his 13th sacrifice fly of the year, tying Jeff Bagwell (1992) and Ray Knight (1982) for the club record. Lee is one shy of the Major League record for the most sac flies in the first half of the season, set by Andre Dawson in 1983.

Lee was an All-Star in 2005 and '06 while he was with the Brewers.

"It's something that everybody wants to do at least once in their career," Lee said. "Having the opportunity to go a third time is just exciting.

"It's an exciting moment right now. I've got to enjoy every moment."

The 2003 season marked the introduction of the Player Ballot to the All-Star selection process. Each league's players, managers and coaches elect eight position players and eight pitchers from their league. Catchers and infielders who finish in the top two at their position on the Player Ballot, and outfielders among the top six, are assured of making the All-Star Team. In instances where the winners of the Player Ballot are also fan-elected starters, the player with the next highest amount of votes on the Player Ballot makes the All-Star Team. Eight pitchers -- five starters and three relievers - become All-Stars through the Player Ballot. The manager of each World Series team from the prior season - in this year's case, Detroit's Jim Leyland and St. Louis' Tony La Russa -- then fills the remaining slots on their respective teams, ensuring that one player from all 30 clubs is named to the All-Star Game.

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