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Sizemore becoming All-Star regular

Sizemore becoming All-Star regular

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NEW YORK -- Baseball's biggest stars have gathered in the city that never sleeps for the 2008 All-Star Game.

The bars and clubs are buzzing, the neon lights are humming and, one would assume, it's time to party.

Or, you can go the Grady Sizemore route.

"I haven't left the hotel since I got here," Sizemore said on Tuesday afternoon.

Granted, Sizemore hadn't been here long by that point. He and teammate Cliff Lee, who was named the American League starting pitcher, saw their flight from Cleveland to New York delayed two hours for reasons still not known to them.

"They said it was storms, but it could have been something else," Sizemore said. "They could have been lying to us."

Maybe Sizemore is lying about not leaving the hotel, but whether he was out on the town Sunday night or relaxing in his room, one can be assured he wasn't getting overly caught up in the glitz and glamour that can often accompany this marquee event.

Sizemore generally shuns the spotlight, so the Midsummer Classic, which has become an annual event on his calendar, hardly suits his style. But with three straight All-Star selections now under his belt, he has learned to accept his place among the game's elite players.

"Obviously it's a special thing for me," Sizemore said. "To be in a room with these guys is a special thing for me. Every year, it gets better and better."

And every year, Sizemore gets better and better in some way.

Though his batting average has dipped the past two years, Sizemore became a more patient hitter in 2007 -- drawing a career-high 101 walks -- and this year he's taken great strides in the power department. At the break, he is the AL's leading home run hitter with 23, just five shy of his career-high mark set in 2006.

The newfound penchant for power from the leadoff spot earned the 25-year-old Sizemore an invite to participate Monday's State Farm Home Run Derby. But it might also earn him a special place in the record books.

With 22 steals also in tow, Sizemore has a chance to become the 32nd player to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in a season and the fifth player to join the elite 40/40 club.

Oh, and here's a shock: He's not talking about that potential feat.

"I'm not worried about stats or anything," Sizemore said. "Obviously, I want to get my team going. But other than that, I'm not worried about it."

Sizemore is also unconcerned about the multitudes who insist he should be batting lower in the Indians' power-starved lineup.

The arguments for Sizemore moving down are strong ones. Consider that 16 of his 23 homers this year have come with nobody on base.

But Sizemore has no real interest in moving down.

"I'm comfortable [at leadoff]," he said. "That's the biggest thing. I like to begin in that spot, getting the offense going. You have a chance to give your team a chance to score, starting the game off. I tell Wedgie [manager Eric Wedge] I'll hit wherever, but I think he likes having me there, and that's not going to change anytime soon."

Nor is Sizemore going to change his low-key demeanor, even as the All-Star appearances pile up and his spot among the game's premier players becomes cemented.

"I never thought about being in the All-Star Game as a kid," he said. "But now that I'm here, it's great."

Anthony Castrovince 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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