Three Canucks get all-star nod

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

A year ago, posters were hung around Dodger Stadium. Ushers handed out buttons for fans to wear. They were asked to vote -- in both of Canada's official languages -- for Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin.

Martin was elected to start the 2007 game in San Francisco with a campaign run as smoothly as a southern California Republican primary.

This year Martin did not rank in the top five in the fan voting, yet the East York-born Martin will be at Yankee Stadium July 15 after winning the players vote.

And Martin will have the company of two Canadians and future World Baseball Classic teammates: Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C., and Chicago Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster of Gibsons, B.C. It's the first time three Canadians have been selected.

Martin, the first Canuck catcher to start an all-star game, is hitting .306 with nine homers and 42 RBIs.

It's the second consecutive all-star appearance for Morneau, who is hitting .310 with 12 homers and 65 RBIs. He earned the most votes from the players as well.

SECOND CHANCE

Dempster was an all-star with the Florida Marlins, but NL manager Bobby Cox didn't get him in the game. Cox apologized and told Dempster he'd be back. It took a change of teams and a change of roles (from closer to starter) but he's back. This season he's 9-3 with a 3.24 ERA, walking 43 batters and striking out 93 in 111 innings.

"I walked all the way back in from the bullpen and through the home dugout at Turner field," Dempster said yesterday. "At the bottom of the stairs (Cox) was waiting. He basically shook my hand and said: 'Sorry, I didn't get you in, it was a 3-2 game and I had to save you in case we tied it.'

"That was one of the classiest things that ever happened in my career. He was right. It took a while to get back, though."

It will be Martin's first trip to Yankee Stadium. Dodger manager Joe Torre has said in the past Martin shares some of the same leadership qualities as Yanks shortstop Derek Jeter at a similar early age of their playing careers. Martin leads all NL catchers in average, on-base percentage, runs, hits, walks and steals.

Martin's first appearance had an "Am-I-glad-to-be-here feeling." After the workout day he sent out a mass e-mail to everyone in the Dodgers organization thanking them for their support.


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