Guzman eager for All-Star Game

Guzman eager for All-Star Game

WASHINGTON -- Cristian Guzman's career will come full circle when he joins other National Leaguers in the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, the home of the team that drafted him in 1995. Guzman said he's not thinking too hard about his pinstriped past -- he never played for New York in the Majors -- but he did say it feels good to be back in the Midsummer Classic.

Guzman met the media with a smile at Nationals Park on Tuesday to discuss his upcoming appearance as Washington's representative at the All-Star Game.

"I feel good," Guzman said with manager Manny Acta interpreting for him. "It's been awhile, but it's better late than never, so I'm happy about it."

Guzman's only other appearance in the All-Star Game came in Seattle in 2001 while with the Minnesota Twins. Still, Guzman said he has fond memories of playing in the Interleague showdown.

"I had a great time," Guzman said. "I was so young, doing something that not only young players but also veteran players like to do -- going to the All-Star Game -- so I had a very good time."

When asked to compare his 2001 play with his performance in 2008, Guzman said he feels like a stronger, more mature player now than his first time around. He added that he feels in better physical shape than he was in the last couple of years, when he struggled with injuries.

Guzman, who had Lasik surgery after the 2005 season, said that, with his improved eyesight, he feels his .313 batting average and National League-leading 119 hits this year are what he will expect out of himself for the rest of his career.

"I feel like I should be this kind of hitter the rest of my life, because from now on, I can see," he said with a laugh.

He attributed his early struggles with Washington to his poor vision, where he said he could really only see the seams of pitches coming at him, but nothing in greater detail.

Despite his consistency all year, Guzman said he really didn't think about the possibility of playing in the All-Star Game until the announcement came last Sunday. He said he's just "very proud" to represent Washington, especially since he recognizes there are so many good players around the league worthy of an All-Star nod.

The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage that will also be available on XM Satellite Radio, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.

Zachary Osterman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.