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Guthrie's service nets him O's Clemente nod

Guthrie's service nets him O's Clemente nod

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NEW YORK -- Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, who has emerged as the staff ace and one of the best right-handers in the American League, is enjoying a resurgent season. Now, Guthrie is being honored for his off-the-field accomplishments.

The 31-year-old Guthrie is Baltimore's nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevy, which is given annually to the Major League player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team.

"The name it holds is really important," said Guthrie, who is a first-time nominee for an award, which was first won by Hall of Famer Willie Mays and last year went to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. "I think understanding what Roberto did and his legacy, he left as he passed away on a trip he was motivated to do by himself. ... To be attached to an award carrying his name has a lot of importance."

Guthrie, who is an active supporter of numerous Orioles outreach programs and pays for tickets for a group dubbed "Guthrie's Gang" to attend select Camden Yards' home games, understands how valuable every opportunity to give back is.

He has also made numerous appearances at the Helping Up Mission, a mission that has narrowed its focus to serving the spiritual and physical needs of the city's men who are poor and homeless. He has done speaking engagements for the Boys Scouts, Boys & Girls Club of Baltimore and Sarasota, and Living Classrooms and visited soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Hospital. Guthrie is an active participant in the MLBPA Buses for Baseball Program and Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign and clinic and also participates in the Orioles' annual Holiday Party for kids serving city schools students lunch and playing games with them at the ESPN Zone.

"I think it's important to take advantage of it, as a baseball player -- both financially as well as with time," he said. "With your time, with your service, make yourself available because a small, small sacrifice on your part goes a long way for somebody else."

Guthrie will be honored in a special pregame ceremony prior to the Orioles-Blue Jays series opener on Monday. The other 29 nominees -- one from each club -- have immersed themselves in the type of humanitarian and community efforts that distinguished the life of Clemente, a life that ended at age 38 on New Year's Eve 1972, with the crash of a plane aboard which he was personally delivering aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims.

Fans will once again have the opportunity to participate in the selection of the national winner. They can cast votes for any of the 30 club nominees through Oct. 8.

The fan-ballot winner will be tallied as one vote among those cast by a special selection panel of baseball dignitaries and media members. The panel includes Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, widow of the Hall of Fame right fielder.

Voting fans also will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2010 World Series to see the national winner presented with the Roberto Clemente Award.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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