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No Star turn for Clement

Francona anguishes, then chooses Colon

Terry Francona was crushed, Matt Clement was heartbroken, and even though the Red Sox have four players starting in this year's All-Star Game, the team was disappointed.

Clement won't be pitching in this year's Midsummer Classic in Detroit, and, ultimately, it was Francona's decision, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, that left him off the roster.

The Sox manager and this year's American League skipper took Anaheim's Bartolo Colon rather than Clement when rounding out the roster with his choices, which determined the last five players.

''The people didn't think I'm good enough to be there so I'm not going to be there," said Clement, whose 9-2 record and 3.82 ERA many thought would be enough not only for a spot but possibly a start.

''That's it. It's disappointing. You think you deserve to be there and you're not. You turn the page. The Lord has a plan for you. You just stay confident in that. Obviously, I'm not good enough to be there."

Francona, clearly distraught over the decision, offered little explanation for why Colon, whose team already was represented by Vladimir Guerrero, made the cut and Clement did not.

''I'm not very happy about it. I spent so much time on this," Francona said. ''The system is what it is, and you make your decisions according to that, but you're seeing a lot of good players aren't going."

After the fan voting determined the nine starters for each league, the players, managers, and coaches were left to decide five starting pitchers, three relievers, and nine reserves. Francona was responsible for choosing five players -- four pitchers and one position player.

But the league rule requiring each team be represented left Francona backed into a corner. Four of his five choices went to teams (Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and Oakland) that had yet to have a player on the roster. He took Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney, Devil Rays pitcher Danys Baez, Athletics pitcher Justin Duchscherer, and Indians pitcher Bob Wickman, leaving just one open spot left.

''That was basically the only decision there ended up being," Francona said. ''It ends up we have one pitcher to go. I'm not going to go into everything because I don't know if I'm supposed to, but my choice -- our choice -- isn't always the way it works out. I think that's where I need to leave it."

Mike Timlin, whose name Francona had mentioned as a possible All-Star reliever earlier in the week, also missed out. Francona, along with All Star starters Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek, and David Ortiz, agreed the event will be bittersweet -- that Clement, Timlin, and even Bill Mueller deserved to make the team.

''You know, there's things God puts in your life for a reason," Timlin said. ''When he lays something out in front of you, you have to accept it, even though you don't understand how and why. The best thing we can do in our life is try to accept what He gives us."

This year is the first since 1949 the Red Sox have started four players in the All-Star Game, (Dom DiMaggio, Mel Parnell, Birdie Tebbetts, and Ted Williams). But the players left home with a damper having been put on the clubhouse excitement. Francona said making the decisions weighed on him and that the system means several deserving players miss the cut.

''It's part of the game," said Clement. ''I've never been on [an All-Star] team before, so it's no different than my other All-Star breaks. I wasn't expecting to be on the team because I'm not a big promoter of myself, No. 1, and I'm not a very big name in the game. I'm going to take it for what it's worth and get ready for the Rangers and the second half of the season."

Still, placing four players in the starting lineup can't be ignored and Francona said he's honored to be managing with so many of his own players on the field.

Ortiz was the top vote-getter in the majors with 4,138,141 votes (the next closest was New York's Alex Rodriguez with 3,553,235). It will be his second All-Star Game.

It will also be the second Midsummer Classic for Varitek (who didn't play when he was selected in 2003) and Damon (whose other appearance was in 2002, his first year with the Sox).

Manny Ramírez, selected for the ninth time yesterday, is the veteran of the group -- his first was in 1995. He's been selected every year since 1998 but didn't play in 2000 or 2003.

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