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Podsednik deserves trip to St. Louis

Podsednik deserves trip to St. Louis

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KANSAS CITY -- Back at the start of the 2009 season, when Scott Podsednik was sitting at home in Texas, waiting for a call to begin work as a Major League baseball player once again, being selected as an All-Star had to be quite a distance removed from his thought process.

Fifty-six games played later, with Podsednik having emerged as the White Sox first-half Most Valuable Player, the veteran leadoff man still doesn't seem to be banking on his name being called during the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Pepsi at 12 p.m. CT on Sunday.

Yet, Podsednik certainly deserves the honor.

"It has crossed my mind," said Podsednik of being a White Sox All-Star representative in St. Louis. "But right now, I'm really planning on taking the four off-days and relaxing and spending time with family and getting my body prepared to play [74] more games and finish it out strong."

Podsednik enters Sunday's series finale at Kauffman Stadium with a .312 average, three home runs and 21 RBIs. The fleet-footed left-handed hitter also has 12 stolen bases, basically serving as an offensive savior as a catalyst at the top of the White Sox order. And if Podsednik was selected, it would not be his first All-Star trip.

In 2005, Podsednik won the American League Final Vote competition behind an ingenious "Vote for Scott" campaign started by the White Sox. Podsednik doesn't have any of the buttons or T-shirts given out during this whirlwind electoral period, but those few days still hold a special place in his baseball memory bank.

"I do remember that campaign taking a life of its own," said Podsednik with a smile. "It became a life form and rode right along. It was so much fun, even with that hanging period of not knowing if I had those three days off or if I was going to Detroit.

"There's no question 2005 was a great year for us as an organization and me personally. It means a lot to be recognized by the fans as being worthy of making an All-Star team. I look at that as a credible accomplishment.

"My teammates were behind me," said Podsednik of his Final Vote victory. "The organization was behind me, friends and family and the fans of Chicago played a huge part of it. I appreciate that. I understand it would not have happened without support."

White Sox players other than Podsednik exist as strong possibilities for All-Star selection. Mark Buehrle (8-2, 3.09 ERA), Jermaine Dye (.291, 19 HRs, 50 RBIs) and Bobby Jenks (19 saves, 3.14 ERA) lead that particular list. Setup man Matt Thornton also has received high praise for All-Star consideration from White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

But much like Podsednik, Thornton won't be expecting a trip to St. Louis when Sunday's selections are made public. Jeff Zimmerman (1999), Jeff Nelson (2001) and Brendan Donnelly (2003) stand as the three AL All-Star non-closers during the past decade.

"It hasn't even crossed my mind," said Thornton, who has a 2.76 ERA, with a smile. "For someone in our situation as a setup man, like myself, [Scott Linebrink] and [Octavio] Dotel, really all the setup men in baseball, your manager sees you on a daily basis and knows how valuable you are to the team and the things you do. The bullpen has become a very important part of all baseball.

"At the same time, you don't have the saves or the wins. You don't get the limelight like the closers do. I understand. It doesn't hurt our feelings. It's just the way it is. I'm going to enjoy the four days off, and that's just the way it is."

When Brian Bannister throws the first pitch of Sunday's contest, Chicago's focus will be on winning the series and starting to build a head of steam into the final week of the first half of the season. For one or possibly two White Sox players, they also will have the honor of All-Star attached to their name.

Pitching matchup
CWS: LHP Clayton Richard (3-1, 4.48 ERA)
After struggling in his two previous starts, Richard had a positive outing against the Indians on Tuesday. Although he gave up four runs in six innings, three of those runs came after he returned from a 30-minute rain delay. He earned his first complete game when the game was called in the top of the seventh inning because of rain. Richard pitched six innings and gave up four runs on four hits while striking out six and walking one. In his start against the Royals on May 29, Richard pitched seven innings and gave up just two runs. The left-hander is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in five appearances -- two starts -- against the Royals in his career.

KC: RHP Brian Bannister (5-6, 3.93 ERA)
Bannister was very sharp against the Twins on Tuesday night, but he lost, 2-1, because of one home run and one unearned run. He worked seven innings, allowing six hits and one walk with six strikeouts. Of the other 15 outs, six were groundouts, which indicates that Bannister, a fly-ball pitcher, was getting a good share of balls hit on the ground. He's given up just nine earned runs in 34 innings over his past five starts for an ERA of 2.12. The White Sox gave Bannister one of his toughest times all season, burning him for seven runs on 10 hits on May 29.

Tidbits
Gordon Beckham and Mitch Maier had a collision on the basepaths during the third inning of Saturday's 6-4 victory for the Royals. With Maier on second, Beckham was trying to field a Willie Bloomquist grounder hit to him at third when the two collided. Nobody was hurt, and Maier was ruled out on Bloomquist's fielder's choice, with the play going unassisted to Beckham. ... White Sox pinch-hitters are 2-for-46 this season. ... Paul Konerko extended his hitting streak to five games with two singles, but he was thrown out on a close play at second trying to stretch his single off the wall in the third into a double. Konerko is hitting .421 during this hit streak. ... The White Sox are 6-9 in their past 15 games on the Fourth of July. ... Beckham is hitting .365 over his past 19 games ... Alexei Ramirez, who returned from a two-game absence due to a sore middle finger on his right hand, had two hits and raised his average to .396 in his past 12 games.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• WGN

On radio
• WSCR 670

Up next
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: White Sox (Mark Buehrle, 8-2, 3.09) vs. Indians (Jeremy Sowers, 2-6, 5.68), 7:11 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: White Sox (Jose Contreras, 3-7, 4.84) vs. Indians (David Huff, 4-3, 6.06), 7:11 p.m. CT

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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