NEW YORK (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Despite having the best record in the American League, only two Texas Rangers players will head to next week’s All-Star game. Cole Hamels will represent the team on the AL pitching staff while outfielder Ian Desmond will head to San Diego as a reserve player.
But the real story this year comes out of the Windy City. After topping the major leagues during the first half of the season as they seek their first title in more than a century, the Chicago Cubs dominated the rosters for next week’s All-Star game.
And the Boston Red Sox, who ended their long drought a decade ago, were not far behind.
The Cubs became the first team since the 1976 Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine to have five players voted as All-Star starters, and seven Chicago players in all were picked Tuesday for the July 12 game at Petco Park.
Chicago’s entire infield was voted in — first baseman Anthony Rizzo, second baseman Ben Zobrist, shortstop Addison Russell and third baseman Kris Bryant — along with center fielder Dexter Fowler, who hopes to recover from a hamstring strain that has sidelined him since June 18. The only other team to start four infielders was the 1963 St. Louis Cardinals.
“It’ll be really cool starting the game and throwing to those guys in San Diego,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo led NL players with 3.2 million votes, and Zobrist won the closest race by finishing 88 votes ahead of Washington’s Daniel Murphy. Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester were selected for the National League pitching staff.
Chicago got off to a 47-20 start but has slumped for the past few weeks. The Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908, but have the second-most All-Stars in their history behind eight in 2008.
“Make sure you slow it down and enjoy every second of it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon recalled telling his All-Stars.
The game will feature 11 first-time starters, the most since 2005. In a sign of the sport’s generational change, 12 of the 17 elected starters are 26 or younger.
“It should be a little more special,” said Bryant, who attended the University of San Diego for three years,
Boston has six All-Stars, including four starters. Designated hitter David Ortiz, who is retiring at the end of the season, became a 10-time All-Star and is joined in the lineup by a trio of first-timers: shortstop Xander Bogaerts and outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts. Knuckleballer Steven Wright and closer Craig Kimbrel also were selected.
“Four days of rest and chilling is good, but this All-Star Game, I’m going to try to enjoy it the most,” said the 40-year-old Ortiz said, who helped the Red Sox win three titles, including their first in 86 years in 2004.
Wright is a first-time All-Star at age 31.
“I feel like I’m still the same guy,” he said.
Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez and first baseman Eric Hosmer were voted to the AL starting lineup along with Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado and Los Angeles outfielder Mike Trout. Perez led all players with nearly 4.97 million votes.
“He’s kind of turned into somebody that everybody loves,” said Royals manager Ned Yost, who will lead the AL. “They love his style of play. They love his energy. They love his production and they like the way that he plays the game.”
San Francisco catcher Buster Posey was elected in the NL along with New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and Washington outfielder Bryce Harper.
Five Orioles were picked for the AL roster. Beyond Machado, catcher Matt Wieters and outfielder Mark Trumbo are among the reserves, and Brad Brach and Zach Britton are on the pitching staff.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter told Brach’s wife, singer-songwriter Jenae Cherry, to pass along the news to her husband.
“I told her — she’s an up-and-coming country music singer — she should write a song about it,” Showalter said. “I’d buy it.”
Arrieta is among five first-time All-Stars on the NL pitching staff, joined by New York’s Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen and Miami’s A.J. Ramos. Other NL pitchers include Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez and Atlanta’s Julio Teheran. Washington’s Max Scherzer was bypassed.
Jansen entered Tuesday with the second most saves (133) in baseball since the start of 2013. After being overlooked each of the past few seasons, he had been making plans to spend the break with his family at a beach or Disneyland.
“I wasn’t getting my hopes up and get disappointed again,” he said. “Now that I finally got a chance, I just appreciate it.”
Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances were picked for the AL bullpen from the New York Yankees’ Run BMC trio but Aroldis Chapman was left off after missing the first 29 games of the season while serving a domestic violence suspension.
Miller and Wright are among seven first-time All-Stars on the AL pitching staff, joined by Brach, Tampa Bay’s Alex Colome, Toronto’s Marco Estrada, Brach, Houston’s Will Harris and Cleveland’s Danny Salazar. Other AL pitchers include Chicago’s Chris Sale and Texas’ Cole Hamels.
Petco Park is the second of four straight NL ballparks to host the All-Stars, following Cincinnati last year and ahead of Miami in 2017 and Washington in 2018. Because of that, the AL will be the home team, wear white uniforms and use the Padres clubhouse. Wil Myers was the only Padres player picked.
St. Louis’ 1963 infield included first baseman Bill White, second baseman Julian Javier, third baseman Ken Boyer and shortstop Dick Groat. The 1976 Reds’ starters were catcher Johnny Bench, second baseman Joe Morgan, shortstop Dave Concepcion, third baseman Pete Rose and outfielder George Foster.
The AL has won the game three straight times and is 10-3 since the All-Star winner has determined home-field advantage in the World Series.
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