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Gonzo an All-Star again
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07/06/2003  6:51 PM ET 
Gonzo an All-Star again
Lone D-Backs representative is virtually unstoppable
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Luis Gonzalez is headed to the All-Star Game for the third year in a row. (Jill Weisleder/Dodgers)
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    LOS ANGELES -- Luis Gonzalez doesn't like to take days off.

    Not during the regular season -- he played in all 162 games in both 2000 and 2001.

    And certainly not when the alternative is spending a few days with the game's greatest stars at the Midsummer Classic.

    Gonzalez won't have to worry about being idle next week as he was selected Sunday as a reserve for the National League All-Star team. He was the lone Arizona player to be selected. He finished 14th among outfielders in the balloting with 392,575 votes.

    "It's always an honor to go," said Gonzalez. "The All-Star Game is the All-Star Game. (Being chosen) means you're one of the elite players in the league. "Whether it's your first one, your fourth one, whatever, they all mean a lot because for the first half of the season you're one of the better players in the league."

    2003 All-Star Game

    2003 All-Star Game information >

    This is the fourth time Gonzalez has been picked for the All-Star Game. He was voted in as a starter in 2001 and selected as a reserve in 1999 and 2002. In 2001, fans throughout Arizona staged get out the vote parties to help Gonzalez edge out Colorado's Larry Walker for the final starting spot in the outfield.

    "You're always representing your city and your organization so it's fun," Gonzalez said. "I wouldn't trade it in for the world. You're one of the selected few that gets to go out there and get to be an All-Star for two or three days."

    Gonzalez has been a consistent performer this year, as the Diamondbacks suffered through injury after injury to key players. Arizona sent six players to last year's game: Randy Johnson, Byung-Hyun Kim, Curt Schilling, Gonzalez, Damian Miller and Junior Spivey.

    Miller was traded in the offseason and Johnson, Kim, Schilling and Spivey all spent significant time on the disabled list with Kim eventually being traded to Boston.

    Only Gonzalez has remained, helping to fuel the Diamondbacks' June rally by hitting .384 during the month.

    "It's all the more amazing because of all the changes that have gone in front of him and behind him in the lineup," Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly said."There hasn't been a lot of consistency as far as protection, but he just keeps going along doing what he does."

    Gonzalez has taken more of a leadership role this year as all the injuries have turned the once veteran Diamondbacks into the "Baby Backs." Gonzalez has done his best to make the rookies feel welcome in the clubhouse.

        Luis Gonzalez   /   LF
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 200
    Bats/Throws: L/R

    More info:
    Player page
    Hit chart
    D-Backs site

    "Gonzo has gone way out of his way to make all of us feel comfortable," rookie second baseman Matt Kata said. "He's done everything from saying, 'Hi,' to taking us out to lunch. He's taken us under his wing. It's been a big help."

    The 2002 season was a tough one for Gonzalez. After clubbing 57 home runs and driving in 142 runs in 2001, he said he put pressure on himself to prove it wasn't a fluke. He wound up hitting .288 with 28 homers and 103 RBIs and had his season ended Sept. 23 when he separated his shoulder in a collision with shortstop Tony Womack.

    Another factor, Gonzalez admits, was his contract, which was set to expire after the 2003 season. In March that distraction was eliminated when the D-Backs signed him to a three-year, $30 million extension that will keep him with the club through 2006.

    "You want to try to do better than you did the year before and realistically that probably wasn't going to happen," Gonzalez said. "I think last year was a big lesson for me as far learning to stay within myself."

    Entering Sunday's game, Gonzalez was batting .319 with 17 homers and 61 RBIs and he leads the National League in doubles with 30.

    "I'm kind of excited about hitting all these doubles early," Gonzalez said. "You always look for something at the midway point that you're doing good and you think, 'Maybe I have a shot at doing something special in this.'"

    Steve Gilbert is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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