Jose Bautista tops final All-Star tally
NEW YORK -- A team known for sausage races more than pennant races made quite an All-Star splash.
The Milwaukee trio of Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks won fan elections to start in the National League lineup, sending a mini-Brew Crew to join the usual slew of Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies at baseball's glitter-fest.
"It means the Milwaukee Brewers have arrived on the national scene," Braun, the top NL vote-getter, said Sunday.
Philadelphia, having built the best record in the majors on pitching, provided aces Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz led a Boston quartet. The World Series champion San Francisco Giants added four arms.
The small-market Brewers celebrated their largest haul of All-Star starters. Milwaukee often draws a lot of attention for its in-game dash of meat mascots -- the team, however, has made the playoffs just once since 1982.
"A lot of times -- and I know the fans are a huge part of what we do -- but sometimes the fans vote for who they like and the superstar that's been there before and may not even be having a good year," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "It's nice to see our guys voted in and those are the top three guys at their positions. That's really cool."
Schoenfield: Five Biggest Snubs
Even with 66 players selected, there are big omissions from the All-Star Game's rosters. ESPN.com's David Schoenfield lists five snubs who could have a legitimate beef. Blog
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.
Bautista homered Saturday off Halladay, then hit his major league-leading 27th homer Sunday against Philadelphia's Cliff Lee.
"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. "I can't even describe how good that feels."
The AL starting lineup: Gonzalez at first base, Robinson Cano at second, Jeter at shortstop, 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 outfield 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.
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.
"There's never been a time in my career when this seemed like even a realistic possibility," he said, choking up while discussing his selection. "A year ago, almost to the day, I got released and didn't know if I would ever pitch again."
Jeter, a 12-time All-Star set to come off the disabled list Monday, will be among the half-dozen 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.
"I learned a long time ago not to pay much attention to the voting because things go up and down," Jeter said. "Anytime you get an opportunity to be selected to an All-Star team, especially by the fans, it shows they appreciate how you play the game. It's an honor. I've said that over and over again."
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.
"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.
Avila, however, overtook Martin in the final week of balloting.
"He's got much better numbers than I do. I'm glad he's going to get the start," Martin said of Avila. "I was kind of worried about that actually."
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 attract interest 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.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press