Bautista tops votes for All-Star Game
Derek Jeter, David Ortiz and Roy Halladay led the usual slew of Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies picked for the All-Star game. Joining in this year, a Brew Crew.
Outfielder Ryan Braun, first baseman Prince Fielder and second baseman Rickie Weeks made up a Milwaukee trio elected by fans to start July 12 in Phoenix. Quite a haul, the largest ever for a small-market team better known for sausage races than pennant races.
''It means the Milwaukee Brewers have arrived on the national scene,'' Braun, the top NL vote-getter, said Sunday before the Central co-leaders visited Minnesota.
Fielder and Weeks were among several players who overcame voting deficits in the final week. Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Detroit catcher Alex Avila also rallied late to earn starting spots.
Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista, the reigning home run champion, drew a record 7.4 million votes. He became the first Blue Jays player elected to start since Carlos Delgado in 2003.
''People are recognizing that you're doing well and for me it's been in three different territories - the United States and Canada and the Dominican,'' Bautista said, a day after he connected off Halladay for his big league-leading 26th home run. ''I can't even describe how good that feels.''
The AL starting lineup: Adrian Gonzalez at first base, Robinson Cano at second, Jeter at shortstop, Alex Rodriguez at third base, with Bautista, Josh Hamilton and Curtis Granderson in the outfield, Avila behind the plate and Ortiz at designated hitter.
The NL starters: Fielder at first, Weeks at second, Reyes at short, Placido Polanco at third, with Braun, Kemp and Lance Berkman in the outfielder and Brian McCann catching. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy will choose the DH.
Fans can vote on MLB.com through Thursday for the 34th player on each side. Injuries are sure to impact the final rosters, too - three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols was left off while recovering from a broken left wrist and Reyes is nursing a hamstring problem.
Once again, the league that wins will get home-field advantage in the World Series. Led by McCann, the NL won last year for the first time since 1996.
Phillies aces Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Halladay were part of the 13-man NL staff. Philadelphia has the best record in the majors. The World Series champion San Francisco Giants put four pitchers on the squad: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Brian Wilson and Ryan Vogelsong.
Vogelsong will certainly be among the feel-good stories in Arizona. At 33, he'd spent the previous four years in Japan and the minors before getting called up early this season.
Jeter, a 12-time All-Star set to come off the disabled list Monday, will be among six New York Yankees heading to the desert. Also going are 14-time All-Star Rodriguez, Cano, Granderson, closer Mariano Rivera and backup catcher Russell Martin.
The 37-year-old Jeter always seems to be a lightning rod when it comes to awards and honors, ratcheting up the debate of popularity vs. production. He's in the midst of another down year and has been hurt - Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is having a breakout season and made the AL team as a backup, deserving Jhonny Peralta of Detroit was left off.
The Yankees own the best record in the AL, although two of their stars were among the notable omissions: CC Sabathia, tied for the major league high in wins, and first baseman Mark Teixeira, among the leaders in homers and RBIs.
The rival Red Sox put four players on the team: Gonzalez, Ortiz, pitcher Josh Beckett and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
''Seems like the Yankees always take care of all the All-Star voting every year, so it's just disappointing to not see more Red Sox on that team,'' Boston ace Jon Lester said.
Texas manager Ron Washington will guide the AL team. Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson made the club over Sabathia.
''There wasn't a whole lot of choices on left-handed relievers and C.J. has the experience of doing that,'' Washington said. ''He's deserving, as far as I'm concerned, to be on the All-Star team, so I chose him.''
This year's squad includes 13 first-time All-Stars in the AL and 11 in the NL. Among them will be closer Joel Hanrahan, Pittsburgh's lone representative.
Hanrahan said he won't mind changing his All-Star break vacation plans.
''I think it will be a lot more fun than going to a furniture shop. They say it takes three months to get a couch - wanted to see one and get it on order,'' he said.
On the ballot for the extra AL player are outfielders Alex Gordon of Kansas City and Adam Jones of Baltimore, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, Detroit DH Victor Martinez and Tampa Bay second baseman Ben Zobrist.
''I've been around long enough to know how it goes. This is a tough process because you have the fan vote, the player vote, every team is going to be represented,'' Konerko said. ''I know it's very possible that when you play the position I play there will be somebody left without a chair.''
Candidates for the final NL spot are outfielders Andre Ethier of the Dodgers, Mike Morse of the Nationals and Shane Victorino of the Phillies, first baseman Todd Helton of Colorado and pitcher Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks.
Bochy said it wasn't easy to fill out the rosters.
''It felt like bamboo being stuck up my fingernails,'' he joked. ''Yeah, we enjoyed the process. But we also are thoughtful of the guys who were deserving that we couldn't find a spot for. There's quite a few good names out there, but that's every year and that never will change.''
Among two themes sure to draw attention at the All-Star game are the heat - it was 118 degrees in Phoenix this week and even though the ballpark has a retractable roof, some of the festivities are outdoors - and Arizona's immigration law.
The law requires immigrants to carry their registration documents and police who are enforcing other laws to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally. Last year, several All-Stars said they would boycott the game if picked.
Atlanta pitcher Jair Jurrjens, a first-time All-Star and a native of Curacao, said the Arizona politics were not a concern to him.
''I don't try to think about stuff I don't have control of. They need to do what they need to do to make it safe for the people. If they need to do that under the law, everybody knows a lot of people do bad stuff and they're just trying to be safe,'' he said.