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Cordero named to third All-Star Game

Reds' Cordero selected to Classic

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CINCINNATI -- Going to the All-Star Game never gets old for Reds closer Francisco Cordero.

On Sunday, Cordero was called into Reds manager Dusty Baker's office, where Baker, general manager Walt Jocketty and pitching coach Dick Pole were waiting. They told him he was going to St. Louis after All-Star roster selections were revealed.

"It's always special," Cordero said. "I'm probably not showing how excited I am, but I will be showing it down in St. Louis. It's a pretty good goal for anybody to go to the All-Star Game. It shows you've done a pretty good job the first half of the season."

This will be Cordero's third All-Star Game after he went in 2004 while with the Rangers and in '07 for the Brewers. This time, the 34-year-old was one of the picks made by National League manager and Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel.

Cordero earned his spot on the NL pitching staff with 20 saves in 21 chances this season.

"I have to thank all my teammates down in the bullpen," Cordero said. "I don't think I'd be able to do it without them. They're doing a great job and the starting pitchers, too."

The anchor of a bullpen with the lowest ERA in the NL, Cordero is 1-2 with a 1.80 ERA, 15 walks, 25 hits and 30 strikeouts over 35 innings in 35 games. His 20 saves are tied for fourth in the league. He had converted a streak of 29 consecutive save chances, including his first 15 this season, until he blew his first one of the year on June 10 at Washington.

With 231 career saves, Cordero is one of 11 relievers all-time to have notched 100 saves in both the NL and the American League.

When Cordero arrives in St. Louis for the game and accompanying festivities, he will be taking members of his family along, including his young son, Brian Javier. However, Cordero will also be thinking a lot about the one person that can't be there. His mother, Martina, died unexpectedly during the offseason at the age of 60.

"She's up there watching me and she is happy," Cordero said. "Me and my older brother were playing cards with her. I went to pick up my boy from school and I got a call that she was taken to the hospital. The next night, she passed away."

The offseason was already challenging for Cordero, who was recovering from September microfracture and arthroscopic surgery to repair his right ankle. In 2008, he converted 34 of 40 save opportunities but wasn't always sharp on the mound. His ankle injury wasn't revealed until near the end of the season.

That was a tough conclusion to Cordero's first season in Cincinnati. Following his All-Star season with Milwaukee in 2007, Cordero signed a four-year, $46 million contract as a free agent with the Reds, which was a record haul for a closer.

After rehabilitating from his surgery this past offseason, there was concern outside the team when Cordero posted a 12.10 ERA in Spring Training and displayed lowered fastball velocity.

No one is talking about that now, of course.

"He's very deserving," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He has 20 out of 21 saves and has been lights-out. I'm glad for him, especially after last year. He had a bad ankle and people were wondering if we made a mistake in signing him. In Spring Training, he was coming off the surgery."

Cordero did not appear in the 2004 All-Star Game. In the '07 game, he gave up a two-out solo home run to Carl Crawford.

"I'm really happy I'm able to go this year after what happened to me in the offseason," Cordero said. "It was hard for me."

The 80th Major League All-Star Game will be played on July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. It 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 8 p.m. ET. 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.

The Reds have had just one All-Star each year since they had four players named to the 2004 squad. Cordero is the fifth different player to represent Cincinnati.

"We wish we had some more, big time," Baker said.

One deserving candidate was likely Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, who is 8-4 with a 2.69 ERA in 16 starts this season. Cueto entered Sunday fourth in the NL in ERA and fifth with an opponent's batting average of .223.

Cueto is only 23 years old and in his second big league season, which was one reason Baker wasn't too upset his pitcher was overlooked.

"I would have loved to have seen him [make the team]," Baker said. "But he has time. He's getting better, big time."

Mark Sheldon 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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