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Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Four All-Stars make all-grunt lineup

By Dennis Tuttle
Special to

The G-r-r-r-unts!
Catcher Pat Borders, Mariners
MVP of the 1992 World Series for the Blue Jays, vagabond Borders has played for nine big-league teams and spent all or parts of the past seven seasons in the minors. At 42, he's now the Mariners' starting catcher.
First base Julio Franco, Braves
He will be 47 in August, and no one in baseball has a better body. He can still run, play adequate defense and, yes, he batted .309 last year in 320 at-bats. In his 21st big-league season, why should he stop?
Second base Craig Counsell, Diamondbacks
He does absolutely nothing skillwise above average -- except win. A major component of the '97 Marlins and '01 Diamondbacks championship teams, he's smart, gritty and does all the little non-stat stuff that wins games.
Shortstop *David Eckstein, Cardinals
At a generous 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, Eckstein has used work ethic, desire and heart to defy the, uh, sizable odds of starting in the big leagues. All he does is hustle, get on base, make the plays and get the "big" hits.
Third base Ryan Freel, Reds
A player of many positions, Freel is so insistent on playing somewhere that he carries 10 different gloves, including Ruben Mateo's outfield model and Brandon Larson's third-base mitt. And where are those guys?
Outfield *Scott Podsednik, White Sox
A speedy leadoff guy plagued by injuries, Podsednik bounced among three organizations in the minors before sticking with the Brewers in 2003 and winning NL Rookie of the Year. Traded to the White Sox in the offseason, he has been their catalyst atop the AL Central.
Outfield Brady Clark, Brewers
One of the hardest-working players in the game, at age 32, Clark doesn't take a day in the majors for granted after being undrafted, released twice and traded once while in the minors. "Whenever my career is over, I don't want to have any regrets. I just want to know that every time I stepped on the field, I did my best."
Outfield *Jason Bay, Pirates
Called a grinder by scouts, Bay, the 2004 NL Rookie of the Year, was a 22nd-round pick and part of the deal that sent Brian Giles to San Diego. All he does is hit, get on base and drive in runs.
RH starter *Livan Hernandez, Nationals
A true throwback who refuses to look at pitch counts or innings, Hernandez also refuses to be pinch hit for and hates coming out of the game with a lead. Go ahead, try situational pitching changes with him. Frank Robinson stands down.
LH reliever Terry Mulholland, Twins
Spot starter, long reliever, one batter -- you name it, and this 42-year-old bulldog will take the ball any time. No questions. More than 650 appearances over 19 seasons for nine teams.
Designated hitter Kevin Millar, Red Sox
Always eager to play and a royal pain when he doesn't, Millar carries mitts for third and first and two models for the outfield, saying, "If they need me to play somewhere, I have a glove."
Utility Placido Polanco, Tigers
Super-sub utility infielder with the Cardinals, Phillies and now Tigers, Polanco provides spark and pop for the lineup and fills in where needed. He simply does what's best for the team.
Off the bench Orlando Palmeiro, Astros
A solid late-inning outfield defensive replacement and productive pinch hitter for 10 years, Palmeiro never utters a word about more playing time. He knows his role, and he's very, very good at his job.
* -- 2005 All-Star

Dennis Tuttle is a freelance contributor based in the Washington, D.C., area.