Hawpe, Marquis humbled by All-Star nods

Hawpe, Marquis humbled by All-Star nods

COLORADO -- Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe and right-handed pitcher Jason Marquis, who performed well through the team's rough start and recent hot streak, were announced as National League All-Stars on Sunday and will be playing in the Midsummer Classic for the first time. Hawpe was chosen as a reserve, but because of injuries he is in line to start.

Hawpe (.331, 13 HR, 56 RBIs going into Sunday) was chosen via voting by players, coaches and managers. Marquis (10-5, 3.87 ERA) was chosen by NL manager Charlie Manuel of the Phillies.

The Mets' Carlos Beltran received the third-highest vote total among NL outfielders but is currently on the disabled list with a bone bruise in his right knee. Another elected starter, the Phillies' Raul Ibanez is recovering from a left groin strain and his status for the All-Star Game is uncertain. According to MLB, any injured starter will be replaced by the top vote-getter on the player ballot who's not a starter. Hawpe's 394 votes are ahead of the D-backs' Justin Upton's 277 and the 156 received by the Astros' Hunter Pence.

Hawpe was cautiously excited about the possibility of starting.

"I don't know anything about the scenario, but just to get an opportunity to be able to go is pretty cool," Hawpe said.

The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game, on July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, 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. Pregame ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. MT. 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 May 27, when the Rockies fell to 18-28 and decided they would replace manager Clint Hurdle, Hawpe was hitting .333 with six homers and 36 RBIs, and Marquis was 6-3 with a 4.45 ERA. Both continued to produce under Jim Tracy, who went into Sunday 24-10 at the helm.

Hawpe, 30, said one motivating factor was the pressure club was under in the beginning of the season. After going to the World Series in 2007, the team dropped to 74-88 last season, underwent major coaching staff changes during the winter, and entered the season knowing changes would happen if the team repeated its 2008 performance.

"I knew the pressure that our team was going to be under early on," said Hawpe, who entered Sunday fifth in the NL in batting. "We needed to start off strong and win ballgames. The only way to do that is to have guys playing well. That obviously was my objective."

Hawpe, who entered Sunday's play hitting .331 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs, has been one of baseball's best offensive players at his position for more than three seasons, but his level of consistency this year has earned him elite status.

Before this season, Hawpe was a well-kept secret. From 2006-08, Hawpe hit .289 with 76 home runs and 283 RBIs. That began changing this winter, when he was chosen to Team USA for the World Baseball Classic. He didn't play because of a lacerated little finger that he suffered in Spring Training.

"I was treating that as it was going to be my All-Star Game," Hawpe said. "I remember when I got that invite, that was something that was going to be special to me. I had never played in an All-Star Game, and I assumed I never would."

Hawpe hit .319 with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs after last season's All-Star break. This season, Hawpe has developed into a clutch hitter -- .313 with runners on base, .372 with runners in scoring position and .341 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

In 2006 with the Cardinals, Marquis went 11-6 with a 5.55 ERA and was left off the postseason roster. Now he'll return to St. Louis with league-wide recognition.

He had competition on his own club. Right-handed starter Aaron Cook and closer Huston Street had strong first halves. A couple of factors might have worked in Marquis' favor: He pitched seven innings in a 10-3 Rockies victory over Manuel's Phillies on April 10; also, according to various reports, the Phillies made an attempt to acquire Marquis in a trade.

At any rate, the selection was special to Marquis.

"It's nice sometimes to be recognized for what you do," Marquis said. "It's not the only thing. It's a team game, obviously. That's the most important thing, but it's definitely a special time right now.

"There have been times that I could've [been selected to the All-Star Game] and got set up for disappointment. I just told myself whatever happens, happens."

Marquis shut out the Dodgers, 3-0, on a two-hitter at Dodger Stadium in his last start. That was one of Marquis' seven wins after Rockies losses.

The ability to pick up the club underscores the Rockies' decision to acquire him from the Cubs for right-handed reliever Luis Vizcaino this winter.

Marquis pointed to a conversation he had with Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd after the trade that left him assured he'd be a veteran leader, not merely someone brought in to compete for a rotation job. It allowed him to experiment this spring -- often with poor results -- on his delivery.

Now Marquis can make the necessary adjustments to pitch when parts of his arsenal aren't working. Marquis also has meshed with Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca.

"I really had a strong belief in what I was working on, and it makes that part of it a lot easier when they allow you to have a few mistakes, a little more room for error," Marquis said. "I'm a guy who looks more toward the long term. I set myself up to be good for the next four or five years, instead of the next three or four months."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.