07/04/2004 7:00 PM ET
Four Marlins heading to Houston
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
|The Marlins are 13-3 in games Carl Pavano has started. (Luis M. Alvarez)
MIAMI -- The defending World Series champion Marlins are still receiving their share of star treatment. For the first time in franchise history, they will have four representatives at the All-Star Game.
Representing the Marlins at the Midsummer Classic at Minute Maid Park in Houston on July 13 are third baseman Mike Lowell, right fielder Miguel Cabrera, right-handed pitcher Carl Pavano and closer Armando Benitez.
Lowell and Cabrera were selected by the Major League players, coaches and managers.
Marlins manager Jack McKeon, the National League squad manager, picked seven reserves. Pavano was one of them.
Being the players' choice, said Lowell, is special.
"What's most gratifying for me is that I was voted in by the players," he said. "When you get votes from your peers and they respect the way you play and the numbers you put up, it makes you feel better. I'm fortunate, and I'm very happy I'm going."
The steady, 30-year-old Lowell is the first Marlin ever selected three times, and has done so as a reserve the past three seasons.
"It never gets old for me," he said. "A lot of guys have gone nine or 10 years, and it gets old for them. I'm very excited, and I get a big jolt when I go there. You're playing with the best players in the game, and you're having a good time. It's such a loose atmosphere, and we're there to enjoy the game."
A leader in the clubhouse, Lowell, who has a knack for delivering in the clutch, once again is on pace for a 30-plus home run season while knocking in more than 100 runs. He hit .366 (15-for-41) during his 10-game hitting streak, which was snapped on Saturday. Lowell leads the Major Leagues with 23 go-ahead RBIs and 13 game-winning RBIs.
On April 21 he set a club record with three home runs in a win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Cabrera is being recognized with an All-Star nod in his first full season. The 21-year-old sensation from Venezuela leads the team in home runs and RBIs. Last June he was called up from Double-A, and he emerged into a postseason hero, batting cleanup in the World Series.
Also going to the All-Star Game for the first time is Pavano, the 28-year-old who has come into his prime. With a 9-3 record and 2.92 ERA, he has been one of the top starters in the National League.
A workhorse, Pavano has logged a team-high 117 innings. He has a string of 13 straight starts totaling at least seven innings. The Marlins are 13-3 when he starts.
After going 5-0 with a 1.37 ERA in June, Pavano was voted National League Pitcher of the Month.
The way Pavano changes speeds and has retired batters by pinpointing his fastball and slider reminds McKeon of Greg Maddux.
"I was just happy," said the low-key Pavano. "It was a nice surprise to come in and have Jack tell me and congratulate me. I thought it was nice."
Pavano is glad to see a large contingent of Marlins headed to Houston.
"It's great, they all deserve it," he said. "We've all worked hard. It's nice to go and represent the Marlins and ourselves."
Although the Marlins have been slumping of late, the team most likely wouldn't be close in the standings if not for Benitez's strong bounce-back season.
The hard-throwing closer has 26 saves in 28 chances and boasts a 1.11 ERA. Earlier in the season, he set a team record by notching 30 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. In that stretch, opponents went hitless in 40 at-bats against him.
"Not too many people have the opportunity to go," he said. "People have been in the big leagues 20 years and don't have a chance to go to the All-Star Game. This is real special for us. I'm proud of the young guys, like Cabrera. He's done a great job. He's unbelievable. One year, he goes to the All-Star Game. His first year, he goes to the World Series."
As a fan of the game, Cabrera has long watched the All-Star Game, noting that his favorite part of the festivities is the Home Run Derby.
Would Cabrera, who has gone deep 20 times this season, be interested in participating in the event?
"If they ask me to do it, I'll do it," he said.
When McKeon broke the news to Cabrera that he was headed to Houston, the right fielder was in disbelief. He stood silent, the words not completely sinking in.
"I don't think he believed me," said McKeon. "The players put him on. That meant a lot. I thought I was going to have to select him. When the players put him on, it worked out perfect. It was the perfect scenario. We had three guys selected by the players, which tells you the players felt highly of three guys."
Prior to this season, the Marlins have never had more than three players picked to the All-Star Game. A year ago, Lowell, Luis Castillo and Dontrelle Willis made the trip.
The Marlins also fielded three players in 1996 and 1997.
The Marlins will have heavy representation in Houston. As manager of the defending World Series champion, McKeon will lead the National League squad. Six Marlins assistants also are heading to the game: Doug Davis (bench coach), Bill Robinson (hitting coach), Perry Hill (first base), Jeff Cox (third base), Wayne Rosenthal (pitching) and Pierre Arsenault (bullpen coordinator).
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.