ATLANTA -- Every time he returns home, Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada sees a yellow Corvette and is reminded of one of the most memorable nights of his major league career.
Tejada was rewarded with the car after hitting a home run and being named the Most Valuable Player of last year's All-Star Game. He'll return to the midsummer classic this season, though this time, with far less company. A year after four Orioles were named All-Stars, Tejada was selected as the club's lone representative yesterday for the game, which will be played a week from tomorrow at Pittsburgh's PNC Park.
"It's great to go to the All-Star Game one more year," Tejada said after the Orioles' 10-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves yesterday at Turner Field. "I am happy to get selected. It's good to represent the American League and the Orioles."
It is the fifth time in six seasons that the Orioles, who have the fifth fewest wins in the American League, will be represented by just one player. Several Orioles, including manager Sam Perlozzo, had hoped that Ramon Hernandez, who leads American League catchers in home runs and RBIs, would be selected as a reserve.
However, the Detroit Tigers' Ivan Rodriguez was voted in by the fans as a starter and the Minnesota Twins' Joe Mauer, who leads the AL with a .392 batting average, was selected as the reserve. Hernandez, who is hitting .274 with 15 homers and 59 RBIs, is among five players eligible to become the final player for the 32-man roster, based on an Internet and phone vote.
"I don't really think about it," Hernandez said. "If I get in, great. If I don't, I just get to spend more time with my family. If I don't make it now, hey, there will always be a next time, I guess. There are a lot of guys that are doing very good. Whatever pick they make, it is the right pick. Somebody has to stay out."
Several Orioles said they felt bad for Hernandez, who appeared to take the news in stride. Second baseman Brian Roberts and reliever Chris Ray also figured to get consideration for the team, but neither of them seemingly had the case that Hernandez did.
"Sadly, no," said Roberts when asked whether he was surprised that Hernandez did not make the team. "I knew that he wasn't going to win a vote and you have another catcher hitting .390. But Ramon's numbers deserve it."
Roberts and Tejada started last year's All-Star Game, and third baseman Melvin Mora and current Toronto Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan joined them in Detroit.
Tejada acknowledged it will be bittersweet that none of his teammates may be joining him. A reserve to New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who was awarded the starting spot after getting about 700,000 more votes than the Oriole, Tejada is hitting .317 and leads AL shortstops with 16 home runs and 57 RBIs.
"He seems like he's an every-year guy," Perlozzo said of his shortstop. "He deserves it. He swung the bat for us, knocked in some runs."
Tejada, 30, who has been highly scrutinized this season after his offseason demand for a trade, said the best part of the All-Star festivities is getting to spend time with his family.
"I see my kid, take my kid to the home run derby," said Tejada, who won the 2004 power-hitting showcase but said he won't participate this year if he is asked. "That's the best part. I think that's something that makes me real proud to see my family go and enjoy the All-Star Game."
Tejada said he still holds out hope that Hernandez, his close friend and teammate, will join him in Pittsburgh. Hernandez, Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, Cleveland Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner and rookie phenom pitchers Justin Verlander of the Tigers and Francisco Liriano of the Twins will be vying for the final roster spot, based on a four-day vote on MLB.com or via mobile phone.
Informed that he is allowed to vote for his player, Perlozzo said: "I'll have to get online. He certainly deserves it, with what he's done to this point."
C Ivan Rodriguez Det.
1B David Ortiz Bos.
2B Mark Loretta Bos.
3B Alex Rodriguez N.Y.
SS Derek Jeter N.Y.
OF Vladimir Guerrero L.A.
OF Manny Ramirez Bos.
OF Ichiro Suzuki Sea.
C Paul Lo Duca N.Y.
1B Albert Pujols St.L.
2B Chase Utley Phi.
3B David Wright N.Y.