CINCINNATI — Dusty Baker received a text Saturday night from San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy and it didn’t say, “Why did you beat us up when we were there?”
The Cincinnati Reds took three straight games from the Giants last week and the cynical might say Bochy reaped his revenge on the Reds.
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As manager of the National League All-Star squad it was Bochy’s job to pick most of the reserve players, and he took no extra Reds.
First baseman Joey Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips were voted by the fans to start next Tuesday’s game in New York, but three worthy contenders were ignored — outfielders Jay Bruce and Shin-Soo Choo, plus pitcher Mat Latos.
Bochy’s text asked Baker to tell Bruce, Choo, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake that they were under consideration, “But it’s a tough job and you are going to leave somebody off.” He said it was especially tough with Bruce, but some other guys were having good years and you have to pick guys from every team.”
Bailey and Leake probably were not serious contenders, Latos and Choo were outside contenders, but Bruce was a legitimate contender.
And while he was disappointed, Bruce took it with style, grace and dignity.
“It is not my place to gripe and moan and complain because I have a job to do for my team,” said Bruce, who has 18 home runs, 59 RBI and leads the league in doubles with 26. “It is one of those things. It’s baseball and it’s life.
“You definitely can’t discount the years the guys who were named are having,” Bruce added. “I won’t let it become one of those, ‘Woe is me deals,’ and I’m really happy for our guys who did make it. I’m a grown man, a professional, and I have a lot years left to make it.”
Bruce has never been voted an All-Star starter, but has been named twice — 2011 and 2012. And he plans to watch the game, “Because I always do and I want to watch our guys and root from them.
“I felt like I had numbers that would garnish some attention and some consideration,” Bruce added. “But it is not up to me and I’m just focused on what I can control.”
There is a cloud of controversy that involves Bruce, and if Bochy said Bruce was close then the possible addition of Los Angeles rookie Yasiel Puig is a stab in the hamstring.
Puig was not voted by the fans or the players or added by Bochy, but he is on a ballot for the final roster spot that will be voted by fans this week. The Cuban defector is hitting .407 during his 31 games with eight homers and 19 RBIs.
But his own manager, Don Mattingly, called himself, “Old school,” and believes 30 games is not enough to make one an All-Star and that Puig would take the spot of a more deserving player. And Bochy agrees.
“That’s not up to me, but I believe he has been great so far, although there are guys more deserving,” Bruce said. “Now it’s up to the fans to vote him in, but there are definitely guys more deserving. He has an amazing month in the majors, but just a month.”
Of Bochy saying Bruce was thisclose, Bruce shrugged and said, “That doesn’t really mean anything. That’s nice of him to say, but things like this happen when people are choosing. You have to respect the methods and I respect what he has done. I’m not the first and I won’t be the last. It happened to Brandon Phillips last year and Evan Longorgia and Josh Donaldson this year. They are putting up great numbers and didn’t make the team.
“There is no time to feel sorry for myself and nobody should feel sorry for me, and I’ll have plenty of more opportunities to make the All-Star team,” Bruce said.
Baker isn’t a Puig supporter, either.
“Some of this, well, it sort of has turned into a marketing thing,” Baker said. “I mean, I’m sure Puig is going to be an All-Star. But he has, what, barely more than 100 at-bats in the majors?
“The managers, players and coaches have a vote and I try not to vote for names but for who deserves it,” Baker said. “It should be determined by who has the best entire first half.”