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Gonzalez Will Sit Out All-Star

Joe Torre is honoring Juan Gonzalez's request to skip the All-Star game but doesn't agree with the decision by the Texas Rangers' outfielder.

Gonzalez, angry that Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. and Cleveland's Manny Ramirez and Kenny Lofton are ahead of him in voting for the AL's three starting spots, said he would go as a starter or not at all.

"It's a shame," Torre said Sunday before his New York Yankees played the Baltimore Orioles. "I think it is an honor, and if not honored they should be obligated."

Final fan voting totals for the AL starters will be announced Monday, and reserves for both leagues on Wednesday.

"I respect the fans, but if they don't vote me, then I don't want to play," Gonzalez said later Sunday before the Rangers' game against Seattle.

Torre said he had intended to pick Gonzalez, who began the day with 23 homers and 76 RBIs, third in the AL in both categories.

"He deserved to be there," said Torre, manager of the AL team at Boston's Fenway Park on July 13. "I was told by the American League office they had been in touch with the Texas Rangers, and they asked that he not be chosen. Instead of being chosen and not going, they asked he not be chosen."

As of last week, Griffey had 1,752,313 votes and was trailed by three Indians: Ramirez (1,095,174), Lofton (965,148) and David Justice (753,667). Gonzalez was next at 493,038.

"It's a popularity contest," Torre said. "It's a matter of which ballparks vote. He shouldn't be upset by the process because the process includes his ballpark."

When Gonzalez said he didn't want to go to the game as a reserve, he said he was upset that Torre had bypassed him for the 1997 game in favor of Yankees outfielders Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams.

"1997 is history," Gonzalez said Sunday. "People think because it's the same situation with Joe being the manager, that there's something to it."

Gonzalez said the schedule hurt him in the fan voting.

"We played eight games at home in June," he said. "Who's going to vote for Juan? No one's going to vote for Juan."

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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