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Ibanez to be featured on TWIB

Ibanez to be featured on TWIB

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Going into this year, Raul Ibanez had hit at least 20 home runs in a season five times, driven in more than 100 runs four times and for eight straight season his batting average finished at .280 or above. In fact, from 2006-08, the left-handed-hitting outfielder compiled a .291 batting average, 77 home runs and 338 RBIs.

But it wasn't until 2009 that Ibanez finally made it to his first All-Star Game.

The 37-year-old -- now with the Phillies after 13 years with the Mariners and Royals -- was voted in as a starter for the Midsummer Classic at Busch Stadium last Tuesday, thanks to perhaps the best first half of his long career.

On Saturday, This Week In Baseball will give fans an in-depth look at how that experience went for Ibanez.

During its 3:30 p.m. ET show on FOX, TWIB -- the longest-running sports anthology show in television history -- takes you behind the scenes, from sitting on the lawn and watching balls soar during the State Farm Home Run Derby, to the car ride to the All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevy, to an exclusive interview with the man himself -- as Ibanez preps to finally play in the All-Star Game.

"What we try to do is recap the All-Star Game, but in a different way, because everybody has seen it, so we don't want to just show the highlights of it," TWIB lead producer Matt Anderton said. "So what we're doing this year is we're watching the game and experience through Raul Ibanez's eyes."

After signing a three-year, $31.5 million contract with the reigning World Series champs this offseason, Ibanez proved his worth when he hit .309 with 22 home runs and 60 RBIs before the All-Star break despite missing time on the disabled list with a groin strain.

Thanks to that, Ibanez joined four of his teammates -- second baseman Chase Utley, first baseman Ryan Howard, center fielder Shane Victorino and right fielder Jayson Werth -- as an All-Star.

At his age, Ibanez is the oldest player to start his first All-Star Game since a 38-year-old Babe Ruth started the first Midsummer Classic in 1933. So, fittingly, TWIB also had the slugger look at and dry swing an actual, much-heavier, game-used Ruth bat.

"It's definitely a great feeling," Ibanez said upon finding out he had been voted in by the fans. "I feel very blessed to have been voted in. The fact that I was playing on this club with all the great players, that definitely helped me to be a part of this."

Also wired for perhaps the most jam-packed TWIB show of the year will be All-Stars Brandon Inge, Hunter Pence, Joe Mauer, Adam Jones, Carlos Pena and Adrian Gonzalez.

The show will also take a look at the XM All-Star Futures Game, which celebrated 10 years during Sunday's rain-shortened affair -- won by the World team, 7-5. That block will have interviews with David Wright, Orlando Hudson, Prince Fielder, Pence, Howard and Josh Hamilton, as they reminisce on their personal experiences at the Futures Game.

"It really is a game that showcases the best talent, and those guys are really the future of baseball," Anderton said. "With it happening 10 years ago, we thought this was a good opportunity to show all the elements that we've been collecting."

Here's a glimpse at some of the other features in this week's show:

• A look at Monday's finals for the Aquafina Pitch, Hit and Run, which consisted of 24 children across the country.

• Chevy All-Star Moments will look back at the 2001 All-Star Game at Safeco Field, when Cal Ripken Jr. homered and famously swapped positions with Alex Rodriguez.

• The State Farm Big League Blast will be Fielder's 503-foot shot during Monday's Home Run Derby.

• The XM Call of the Week will center on Carl Crawford -- who went on to win the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award -- robbing Brad Hawpe of a home run in a 3-3 game in the seventh inning for the American League.

• Holiday Inn Winning Road Trips will look at the first-place Dodgers and their 28-19 record away from Dodger Stadium.

• Gillette Rookies will feature Athletics closer Andrew Bailey, who made the All-Star team after sporting a 1.92 ERA and 10 saves in the first half.

• And "How 'Bout That?" will show the top plays and bloopers from the first half of the season.

Alden Gonzalez 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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