NL All-Star roster
CHICAGO -- Mark Prior and Kerry Wood both took big steps up their big-league growth charts.
Both pitchers will represent the Chicago Cubs at the All-Star Game, to be played eight miles away on July 15 at U.S. Cellular Field.
It's the first time two Cubs pitchers will go to the All-Star game since Rick Sutcliffe and Mitch Williams were chosen for the 1989 team.
Prior was elected in the balloting by the players, coaches and managers. Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker, who will manage the National League team, selected Wood as an injury replacement, replacing Colorado's 11-game winner Shawn Chacon, who is on the disabled list.
Baker said Wood finished sixth in the balloting by players, coaches and managers.
"The thing I took into consideration was that since he was No. 6, he was respected by the rest of the players in the league," Baker said. "That's what I based most of my decisions on -- how you're respected by your peers."
Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa, a six-time All-Star, was not selected. Sosa ranked second among National League outfielders going into the final week of voting but was ousted by St. Louis' Albert Pujols, who was the league's top vote-getter this year.
Prior has ignored any sophomore jinx. In just his second big-league season, the 22-year-old ranks among the National League leaders with a 2.69 ERA and moved ahead of Wood as the Major League strikeout leader on Sunday when he fanned 11 St. Louis Cardinals for his 11th career double-digit strikeout game. Prior (8-4) now has 145 strikeouts this year, Wood has 144.
"It's an honor to have the guys around the league respect me enough to vote me in," Prior said. "I thank them. I never expected to get voted in. I thought maybe my best shot was if (Baker) felt sorry for me and threw me in there."
On June 26 against Milwaukee, Prior struck out a career-high 16 batters, a single-game high in the Major Leagues this year, and on April 9, he threw a four-hit shutout against Montreal. He is the youngest Cub to go to an All-Star Game since Greg Maddux, who was three months past his 22nd birthday when he went to the 1988 game.
The Cubs' first-round pick in the June 2001 draft, Prior made nine minor league starts before reaching the Major Leagues last year. He was 6-6 in 19 starts, and has done nothing but get better each time out.
"He's a Cy Young waiting to happen," Cubs catcher Damian Miller said.
Opponents are batting just .209 against Wood (8-6, 3.36 ERA). He burst onto the scene his rookie year when he tied a Major League record by striking out 20 Houston Astros on May 6, 1998, in his fifth start.
"I was surprised," Wood said of the selection. "I'll take it. It's definitely an honor. I'm looking forward to going there and being able to hang out with the guys."
This year, Wood had a bizarre May in which he went 0-2 in five starts but posted an impressive 2.78 ERA. He struck out 41 over 32 1/3 innings. In June, he fanned 54 over 43 2/3 innings and was 4-2.
But Wood's best game was June 7 when he outdueled Roger Clemens and the New York Yankees in a 5-2 Cubs victory. He also came through with a gutsy win June 29 against the White Sox, holding them to two runs over eight innings and striking out seven to save face in the city.
"This is what an ace does," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said of Wood, who helped the Cubs avoid a White Sox sweep.
There have been only two previous instances since the All-Star Game's inception in 1933 in which a pair of Cubs starting pitchers were selected. In 1936, Curt Davis and Lon Warneke were tabbed and in 1946, Claude Passeau and Johnny Schmitz were selected.
A six-time All-Star, Sosa has had a tough year. He was hit in the head with a pitch April 20, missed three weeks in May with a sore big right toe, and was suspended for seven games in June for using a corked bat.
"I missed so many games this year, I don't have the numbers that I used to have," Sosa said Sunday. "You have to understand those guys out there are having good numbers. I'll miss it this year but I'll be back next year for the All-Star Game."
So far, July has been fairly calm for Sosa. Before Sunday's game, Baker hinted that his slugger may be wise to skip the Home Run Derby, held July 14 before the All-Star Game.
"I don't know if he'd want all the stuff that comes along with it this year," Baker said. "Sometimes, it's better to go underground for a little while.
"You look at anything that's happened -- look at President Clinton," Baker said. "He's been underground. When's the last time you heard about him?"
Sosa's last trip to U.S. Cellular Field was anything but memorable as fans booed him during the Cubs-White Sox Interleague series.
Neither Prior nor Wood were lobbying to start the game. Prior listed St. Louis' Woody Williams and Los Angeles' Kevin Brown as more deserving.
"I'm just happy to be on the team," Prior said. "If they use me, they use me. If they don't, so be it. It'll be a chance to experience what it's like to be in the bullpen."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.