Bonds sneaks in as third starting OF, to play in S.F.

NEW YORK -- Barry Bonds is as much a fixture in San
Francisco as cable cars and the Golden Gate Bridge, and he'll be in
his usual spot in left field when the All-Star game comes to his
home ballpark.
The Giants star overcame a 119,000-vote deficit in the final
days of balloting and finished 123,000 ahead of the Chicago Cubs'
Alfonso Soriano on Sunday to claim the third and final starting
outfield spot for the National League.

"I'm at a loss for words right now," Bonds said. "It just
means more 'cause I'm at home. This is my town. This is my house.
You can't say enough about being at home. It's great. This is the
one I'll remember all time. This is the one I'll remember

At 42, Bonds will be the oldest All-Star starter. He tops Roger Clemens, who was 41 years, 11 months at the 2004 game in Houston,
his hometown.

"This is the best one," Bonds said, standing at his locker
after a 13-0 win against Arizona. "You know, it'll probably be my
last, too, so it's awesome."

Bonds, heading to his 14th All-Star game and 12th as a starter,
was the lone Giants player chosen for the July 10 game in San
Francisco -- his first trip since 2004. Five home runs from tying
Hank Aaron's record of 755, Bonds is beloved in San Francisco but
booed in most other cities following years of suspicion that he
used performance-enhancing drugs.

"One guy will be a lot bigger than everybody else. It's his
hometown," said Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr., the top NL
vote-getter. "He gets to have all the fun stuff and the press
conferences. I just get to play."

With the game in his home park, Bonds figures to be the focus
all week. He could be one of the sluggers picked to participate in
Monday night's Home Run Derby.

"I don't think so. I don't have anything to prove in that,"
Bonds said

If Bonds had been bypassed by fans
and players, the choice would have been left to St. Louis' Tony La
Russa, the NL manager.

"I think when our staff got together, we were not surprised at
all that either the fans or the players were going to vote him in
and that somehow we would put him on," La Russa said. "He's
having a good year."

Bonds planned a big All-Star bash
well before he knew he'd be taking part in the festivities.

Two of Bonds' kids, 17-year-old son Nikolai and 8-year-old
daughter Aisha, and his wife Liz were waiting after Sunday's game to
help him celebrate -- and probably assist in planning the shindig.

"I'm having a huge party Monday here in San Francisco. I was
having a party, anyway, because the All-Star game was here, whether
I was in it or not," Bonds said. "It's San Francisco. It's the
All-Star Game, and it's the right thing for me to do to have a big

Soriano wasn't bothered that fans voted Bonds to start over him.
Soriano still made it as a reserve.

"Going to the All-Star Game means a lot to me, especially my
first time with the Cubs," he said.

The Boston Red Sox and AL champion Detroit Tigers led all teams
with five players selected. Boston is sending first baseman
David Ortiz, third baseman Mike Lowell, outfielder Manny Ramirez and
pitchers Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon. The Red Sox could gain
a sixth, with reliever Hideki Okajima among five players on the
Internet ballot for the final AL spot.

Detroit had three players elected to start for the first time
since 1983 (second baseman Placido Polanco, outfielder Magglio Ordonez and catcher Ivan Rodriguez). Pudge, a 14-time All-Star, was
elected to start for the 12th time. Polanco is a first-time

Detroit's Justin Verlander, who pitched a no-hitter this season,
was picked for the AL staff, and shortstop Carlos Guillen is a

The New York Mets (center fielder Carlos Beltran, shortstop Jose
Reyes, closer Billy Wagner and third baseman David Wright) tied the
Milwaukee Brewers (closer Francisco Cordero, first baseman Prince
Fielder, shortstop J.J. Hardy and pitcher Ben Sheets) for the most
players picked in the NL. The Brewers hadn't had four All-Stars
since 1983.

Fans elected the starters, except for the pitchers, and a record
18.5 million votes were cast before Thursday's deadline.

Alex Rodriguez, with 3.89 million votes, led fan voting for the
first time. A-Rod was picked for his 11th All-Star appearance, his
10th as a starter.

"It's hard to think about that right now," Rodriguez said
Sunday after the Yankees lost for the ninth time in 11 games. "But
it's a pretty neat experience. It never gets old. To be consistent
for a long time is something that I'm proud of."

Griffey jumped past Beltran in the final days and topped the NL
with 2.99 million votes, the eighth time Griffey has led his
league. Griffey is going to his 13th All-Star game, all as a

The rest of the AL starting lineup has the Yankees' Derek Jeter
at shortstop, A-Rod at third, and the Los Angeles Angels'
Vladimir Guerrero and Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki in the outfield.

Fielder and Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin were
elected as first-time All-Stars in the NL. Philadelphia's
Chase Utley topped voting at second base.

While fans picked the starters, player voting determined eight
reserves and eight pitchers in each league.

La Russa and Detroit's Jim Leyland, the AL manager, each chose
four position players and three pitchers.

Voting runs through Thursday on MLB.com for the final roster
spot in each league. Competing with Okajima in the AL are Detroit
pitcher Jeremy Bonderman, the Angels' Kelvim Escobar, Toronto's
Roy Halladay and Minnesota's Pat Neshek. The NL five are Pittsburgh
pitcher Tom Gorzelanny, Houston's Roy Oswalt, Arizona's
Brandon Webb, San Diego's Chris Young and the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano

The top write-in vote totals were for Detroit's
Curtis Granderson (376,000) and Cincinnati's Josh Hamilton (151,000).

Some of the most notable snubs included NL MVP Ryan Howard of
the Phillies, Atlanta shortstop Edgar Renteria and New York Mets
pitcher John Maine. In the AL, Granderson and Gary Sheffield missed
out despite excellent numbers.

Howard, who might participate in the Home Run Derby, understood
why he was bypassed.

"I can't make it every year," he said. "I was hurt for part
of the first half. I don't know if that's why I didn't make it or

Fielder said he'll take part in the Home Run Derby.

"That will be pretty cool. I just want to hit one first. That
will be a lot of fun," he said.

Several perennial All-Stars will be absent because of subpar
performances this year, such as Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and
Braves center fielder Andruw Jones.