National Sports Briefs: Pujols leads All-Star voting
NEW YORK ó Albert Pujols will be in a familiar spot when St. Louis hosts the 80th All-Star game. Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is headed for a brand new situation.
Pujols was the leading vote-getter in balloting for the Midsummer Classic announced Sunday by Major League Baseball, giving the Cardinals first baseman the start in his home ballpark.
“It feels great to be there and represent the organization and the city you play in,” Pujols said.
The NL MVP is well on his way to another amazing year, leading the majors with 31 homers and 82 RBIs. He collected 5,397,374 votes to finish with the second-highest total in major league history, trailing only Ken Griffey Jr.’s six million votes in 1994.
“I think that’s just a recognition around the country that he’s had a phenomenal first half on top of a phenomenal career,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. “I’m sure our fans supported him, but he’s been incredible and it’s well-deserved.”
Wakefield made his first All-Star roster in his 17th season, one of a major league-high six Red Sox headed to Busch Stadium for the July 14 game. The 42-year-old right-hander is tied for the big league lead with 10 wins.
ANAHEIM ó Star defenseman Scott Niedermayer made his return to the Anaheim Ducks official by agreeing to a one-year, $6 million deal plus bonuses.
– The Florida Panthers reached a six-year contract extension with young forward David Booth.
– The New York Islanders pried 39-year-old goalie Dwayne Roloson away from the Edmonton Oilers, giving them an experienced backup who could step into the top spot if Rick DiPietro is still injured. Roloson received a two-year, $5 million contract.
– Steve Begin left Dallas Stars and joined the Boston Bruins.
– Defenseman Andy Greene stayed with New Jersey, signing a two-year contract worth $1.475 million.
– Forward Steve Sullivan re-signed with Nashville for two years, $7.5 million.
– The Capitals filled the void created by Viktor Kozlov’s departure for Russia, by signing former Philadelphia Flyers forward Mike Knuble to a two-year deal worth $5.6 million.
BOSTON ó Two newspapers are reporting the Celtics have reached an agreement with free agent Rasheed Wallace.
Bill Strickland, Wallace’s agent, told the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe on Sunday night that the 34-year-old forward told him to call off meetings the agent was in the process of scheduling with the Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. ó Justin Wilson has won the IndyCar Series race at Watkins Glen International.
Wilson gave Dale Coyne racing its first victory since the team was formed in 1984 by dominating the Camping World Grand Prix. He started on the front row alongside polesitter Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske, beating him by nearly five seconds.
Penske and Target Chip Ganassi drivers had won all eight races this season.
BRIGNOLES, France ó Lance Armstrong just wanted to stay out of trouble on a scorching day one rider felt was better suited for baking bread.
British sprinter Mark Cavendish won the second stage of the Tour de France on Sunday, with Armstrong finishing safely in the pack. Armstrong, the seven-time champion, is 10th, 40 seconds back.
SYLVANIA, Ohio ó Eunjung Yi blew a six-stroke lead then hit a 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Morgan Pressel and capture her first LPGA victory Sunday in what might be the final Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.