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Fukudome center stage in New York

Fukudome center stage in New York

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CHICAGO -- Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome will be starting in center for the National League All-Star team on Tuesday, not in right.

On Thursday, NL manager Clint Hurdle said Matt Holliday will start in right field and replace Chicago's Alfonso Soriano. Soriano was elected to the starting outfield but cannot play because of a hand injury suffered June 11 when he was hit by a pitch. Soriano will attend the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.

Hurdle said a Major League Baseball official told him that the league's Basic Agreement with the Players' Association stipulates that when an elected starter cannot play, the non-starting player at the same position who received the most votes on the player ballot gets the spot.

Milwaukee's Ryan Braun will start in left field, with Fukudome in center.

"Fukudome has played a lot more center field than people give him credit for," Hurdle told reporters in Milwaukee.

Hurdle also needs to name a replacement for Soriano on the NL team, and he said he will do that after the results of the All-Star Final Vote are known Thursday night.

Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild will be watching the All-Star Game to see how his staff does. The Cubs will have six players on the roster, including pitchers Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood.

"It's pretty much out of my control," Rothschild said Thursday. "Obviously, Lou [Piniella] will be there and will know what's going on. Zambrano will be in good shape to pitch an inning. It probably wouldn't hurt him at all, and might help him."

However, Dempster will start Sunday, the last regular-season game before the break. Tuesday would be a normal side day for Dempster, but Rothschild sounded as if he'd prefer the right-hander was a spectator at Yankee Stadium.

"I know they want to pitch, so you hate to say no," Rothschild said, aware that Dempster did not get into the 2000 All-Star Game, his only other appearance in the Midsummer Classic.

The All-Star Game gives Fukudome a chance to fulfill a wish.

"I wanted to visit Yankee Stadium one time before it was torn down, and I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to do that in the All-Star Game," Fukudome said through interpreter Ryuji Araki.

The Cubs played an Interleague series at Yankee Stadium in June 2005, and they lost all three games. Zambrano started one of those contests, but he didn't get a decision. Wood did not pitch.

"I'm pretty sure I was on the DL," said Wood, who was on the disabled list at that time because of problems with his right shoulder.

Is he looking forward to going?

"Absolutely. I'm looking forward to seeing it, and walking around, and checking it all out and enjoying the atmosphere that will be there," Wood said. "There's a lot of history there as well."

He'll take a peek at Monument Park, and soak it all in.

"You go and travel on the road," Wood said, "and play at the nice new ballparks, and they're state of the art and everything, and home is here for me, but it will be nice to go to Yankee Stadium. I've never been there, and have only seen it on TV. I'm looking forward to it."

This won't be Cubs rookie catcher Geovany Soto's first trip. He went to a few games at Yankee Stadium as a fan with his father, especially when the Yankees were playing the Rangers.

"My dad always liked to watch the Rangers -- Juan Gonzalez, Pudge Rodriguez, Julio Franco, Rafael Palmeiro," said Soto. "That was my dad's team. We'd go and watch, and it was pretty exciting.

"[The All-Star Game] is going to be something special -- something else," Soto said. "It's going to be the most exciting All-Star Game. For me, it's going to be the greatest thing that ever happened. This being the last year at Yankee Stadium, being in the Bronx, a great baseball city, they're going to go all out."

Carrie Muskat 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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{"content":["all-star_game" ] }
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