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Mora: From workhorse to All-Star
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07/06/2003  6:19 PM ET 
Mora: From workhorse to All-Star
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Versatile Melvin Mora can play in the infield or the outfield. (Roberto Borea/AP)
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    BALTIMORE -- "From utility man to All-Star." That could be the title of Melvin Mora's autobiography.

    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 history.

    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 this point."

    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.



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