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All-Star Game twice as nice for KC
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07/06/2003  8:00 PM ET 
All-Star Game twice as nice for KC
Sweeney, MacDougal chosen to represent Royals
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Mike MacDougal is excited about his selection to his first All-Star team. (AP Photo)
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    KANSAS CITY -- It was something delightfully old for Mike Sweeney and something delightfully new for Mike MacDougal.

    Sweeney and MacDougal were named to the American League All-Star team Sunday, giving the first-place Royals two All-Star representatives for the first time since 2000.

    Sweeney, a .321 hitter, was selected for the fourth consecutive year. The Kansas City first baseman is only the fifth Royals player to earn four or more All-Star selections. The others were George Brett (13), Amos Otis (five), Frank White (five) and Cookie Rojas (four).

    MacDougal is the second Royals rookie to be named an All-Star. Kevin Seitzer made it as a rookie in 1987. MacDougal has 24 saves in 29 opportunities.

    "This is awesome," MacDougal said. "It's hard to put it into words. I hadn't really thought much about it before now because I didn't really know it was a possibility. This is something I'll remember forever."

    It has been a storybook season for MacDougal. He was groomed to be a closer candidate in the Puerto Rican League last winter, but went to Spring Training with no guarantees.

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    MacDougal, 26, quickly asserted himself. He set a Major League rookie record with nine saves in April and was named the Rolaids Relief Man of the Month.

    MacDougal hit a rough stretch in May after being weakened by a virus. However, he gained his second wind and has converted 10 consecutive saves, including his 24th save on Sunday against the Tigers.

    MacDougal has no doubts regarding which pitch is his bread-and-butter pitch.

    "Two-seam fastball," MacDougal said. "All my other pitches, the changeup and slider, are pretty equal. I'll mix in a curve every once in a while."

    MacDougal gained a lot of highlight time on television this year by freezing celebrated hitters Frank Thomas, Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols for called third strikes on wicked breaking balls set up by MacDougal's blazing fastball.

    "Sometimes the ball just comes out of your hand right," MacDougal said.

    MacDougal got the news of his selection from Royals manager Tony Peña. "My heart sank," MacDougal said.

    Sweeney is on the disabled list with nerve irritation in his neck and back. He is scheduled to have a cortisone injection Monday and will see a sports spine specialist in Los Angeles later in the week.

    "As of right now, I don't know if I'll be able to play (in the All-Star Game)," Sweeney said. "But I'm so excited that I've been selected. I'm just as excited for Mike MacDougal. He has pitched great this year. I'm excited that we're going to take that plane trip to Chicago together."

    With Sweeney and MacDougal headed for U.S. Cellular Field on July 15, Royals fans will see two Kansas City players lined up for the All-Star introductions for only the second time since 1989.

    To have more than one All-Star is a show of respect for the first-place Royals, Sweeney said.

    "We're not the Royals of the past," Sweeney said. "To have two players selected from our team is definitely an honor."

    Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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