NL All-Star roster
BALTIMORE -- "From utility man to All-Star." That could be the title of Melvin
The Orioles workhorse has transformed himself from a part-time player to an
American League All-Star in an amazing turnaround season.
Mora on Sunday was named a reserve
on the AL All-Star Team after leading the league in hitting and cementing
himself in the Orioles' starting lineup.
Mora, 31, is hitting .361 and celebrated his All-Star selection with his 13th
homer in the Orioles' 5-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The former New York Met entered this season a career .249 hitter and stamped
himself as a utility player by having only a .195 batting average after the 2002 All-Star break.
Manager Mike Hargrove insisted in Spring Training 2003 that Mora would play "three to
four days a week."
But Mora never agreed with that assessment.
"It's the team's decision wherever they put me, but you can't take away someone's
dream," Mora said. "I am glad to be representing the Baltimore Orioles. It is an
honor to be at the top of the list of players."
Hargrove stuck with his plan in April, as Mora had only 51 at-bats in 17 games. But the lineup was struggling. Center fielder Gary Matthews was mired
in a slump, and left fielder Marty Cordova was out with elbow surgery. So Mora
began filling in at center field and then in left.
And Mora began hitting -- and so Hargrove wrote his name in the lineup in permanent ink.
"I think this is the kind of player he is," Hargrove said. "I think he certainly
deserves it. I think it's exceptional what he has done but not out of the
ordinary. I think he was capable of this."
Mora is still streaking and has piled up enough at-bats to rank atop AL hitters. He batted .379 in May and had a five-hit game on May 25 at
Texas. He also had a career-high 23-game hitting streak, third-best in Orioles
The streak began on May 17 with a single against Tampa Bay and ended against Milwaukee on June 13, when he went 0-for-2 with a walk. He noticed that opposing pitchers
began pitching around him, and he saw fewer and fewer good pitches.
It was a sign of respect, something Mora has garnered a great deal of this
season. Now he is among the American League's top players.
"It's like a dream come true," he said. "I am very proud to be on the team. It
showed how much hard work will do. I have worked hard in the offseason to get to
Now comes Mora's next arduous task: getting tickets for his family. Sounds
pretty simple until you consider the fact that Mora has six children, including two-year-old quintuplets. He said he will take the whole family to Chicago.
"I have to talk to my wife [Gisel] and get a plan together," he said. "I want
all the kids to be there. Hopefully we can make it like a vacation. I am nervous
now because I am going to be with all those stars."
Gary Washburn is a reporter
for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball
or its clubs.