D-backs’ Miley, Hill downplay All-Star talk

PHOENIX — Diamondbacks teammates Wade Miley and Aaron Hill sat next to each other Monday at Chase Field to discuss the very same thing yet in markedly different ways.

Miley, the rookie pitcher, has already earned spot on the National League All-Star team, which was announced Sunday, while Hill hopes to join him in Kansas City via the “Final Vote,” which allows fans to vote one of five players into the final All-Star spot via mlb.com.

While it’s been suggested that Hill was snubbed for an All-Star nod in light of his second offensive cycle of the season Friday, Hill has not given it much thought. He’s been there before, starting at second base for the American League All-Star team in 2009, and is just happy to be in the conversation to get another chance.

“Obviously it’s great to be recognized for what you do on the field, but we’ll see what happens,” Hill said before Monday’s game with the Padres. “You look at statistics (and) we’ve got a few guys that could be right up there.”

To earn the final spot on the NL roster for the July 10 game at Kauffman, Hill must beat out some pretty stiff competition. He is up against Braves outfielder Michael Bourn, 2011 World Series MVP David Freese of the Cardinals, Nationals rookie phenom Bryce Harper and Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, who is retiring after this season and widely considered a future Hall of Famer.

When Hill was informed he had been included in the Final Vote, he needed only hear of Jones’ inclusion before starting to doubt his chances.

“They told me my name was called for the final five and I thought, ‘Oh man, that’s great, who are the other four?'” Hill recalled. “They said ‘Chipper,’ and I said ‘OK, you can stop right there.’ We’re all pulling for him, and he’s got to be in it one way or another.”

Even Harper, in comments to the media Sunday, said he’d be voting for Jones.

“I think a Hall of Famer should be able to go to the All-Star game his last year,” Harper told reporters.

All that said, the D-backs aren’t going down without a fight. The team on Monday launched an aggressive campaign to get Hill into the game, teaming up with the Texas Rangers, who are trying to get rookie pitcher Yu Darvish into the game. The teams will encourage their fans to vote for Hill and Darvish in tandem.

The D-backs have also reached out the Phoenix Coyotes and Louisiana State, where Hill played collegiately, to garner support for Hill’s candidacy, senior vice president of communications Josh Rawitch said. Rawitch also said the D-backs have reached out to media in Canada, where Hill remains popular after six-plus seasons with the Blue Jays.

More voting promotions are still in the works ahead of Thursday’s voting deadline at 1 p.m. PT. Might a third cycle in the next few days help get it done for Hill?

“It’s been pretty crazy the last couple weeks,” Hill said, smiling. “Obviously I can’t describe how or why (the cycles) happened, but if it wants to come back, I’d be more than happy to welcome it.”

While a trip to the All-Star Game would make Hill’s story this season even better, Miley’s is already remarkable. The 25-year-old left-hander wasn’t even in the team’s Opening Day plans until veteran reliever Takashi Saito went down with a calf injury on the second-to-last day of spring training. Miley was kept on as a long reliever and moved into the rotation when Daniel Hudson hit the disabled list in mid April.

Through 13 starts, Miley is 9-4 with a 2.87 ERA, both bests among NL rookies. Considering he had his car packed on the last day of spring training for the drive to Reno, where the D-backs’ Triple-A affiliate plays, the reality that he is now an All-Star might not have fully hit him just yet.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Miley said. “I’m as happy as could be. … I don’t know if it’s sunk in.”

While Miley said he is honored and excited to take the field next week with the league’s best players, he continued deflecting attention back to the D-backs, who entered the week four games behind the Dodgers for the NL West lead.

“You try to keep it to the team perspective,” Miley said. “We want to try to create some momentum. After the break, we’re in a pennant race.”