"First time here. Very nice park," Hu said. "It's a very exciting feeling. I wanted to do something special, and all [Saturday] night I was thinking about doing something to help the team win."In a game where mere participation is virtually confirmation of big-league destinies, to be selected MVP is to be branded a chosen one. MVPs of the Futures Game's first eight editions have included Alfonso Soriano (1999), Jose Reyes (2002) and Grady Sizemore (2003). A pretty impressive scorecard, even if no guarantee that superstardom and seven figures are in Hu's own future. He has had a difficult time correcting the original impression -- perhaps because of that enduring perception of his slight build -- that he is a smooth-glove, slow-bat shortstop. He did hit a mere .254 last season, his first on the Double-A level, but had started 2006 with a .300-plus career Minor League average; back in Double-A this season, he's hitting .325. "Honestly, I thought I hit pretty good last year. But you always try to get better," he said. "It's a fun time now. I'm building on the experience of Spring Training, when I had a chance to be around a lot of good players." In Vero Beach, Hu also had a chance to leave some good impressions, and he didn't blow it. He hit .381 in 11 exhibitions with the Dodgers -- who do still have Rafael Furcal at shortstop, but must also know that they have a maturing option in Hu. As one of the lower-profile World players, Hu entered this contest cloaked in anonymity. Having him stand out surprised many, but Hu anticipated something special because of developments 2,600 miles away. In the Bronx, countryman Chien-Ming Wang was in the process of blanking the Los Angeles Angels, 12-0. "And every time, he pitches good," Hu said, "I have a good game. Like, I had three hits a few days ago, then I went on the Internet and saw that Chien-Ming Wang had pitched seven shutout innings [on July 3, against the Twins]." Between Wang starts, Hu is on his own. Those days have been going well, too.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.