Five Blue Jays named as all-stars
Jason Bay to start in NL outfield
TORONTO (CP) – The Toronto Blue Jays, seeking to break up years of dominance in the American League East by the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, are sending more players than their division rivals to next week’s all-star game.
Ace Roy Halladay, closer B.J. Ryan, third baseman Troy Glaus plus outfielders Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, who will miss the game because of injury, were all voted by their peers onto the AL squad announced Sunday by Major League Baseball, the second highest total in club history. Seven Blue Jays were in the 1993 game.
This time, the defending World Series champion Chicago White Sox and National League East-leading New York Mets lead the way with six players each in the 77th all-star game next Tuesday at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.
The Blue Jays are next with five, plus manager John Gibbons will serve as one of Ozzie Guillen’s coaches, followed by the Red Sox and Yankees with four apiece.
“Maybe this will bring a little recognition to what’s going on up here and hopefully we can continue to let it go,” Glaus said after an 11-6 loss to the Phillies. “So far it says we have some guys who have had good first halves. There’s a lot more games to play, a lot more to accomplish.”
Pittsburgh Pirates star Jason Bay of Trail, B.C., is the only Canadian in the contest and will start in the NL outfield after receiving 2,635,930 votes, the second-highest total among players in the Senior Circuit.
He’s the first Canadian to start in the all-star game since Larry Walker in 1999 and it’s the 10th straight year at least one Canuck has been named to an all-star team. The last time two Canadians went to the contest was 2001, when Walker and Paul Quantrill took part.
The Blue Jays won’t have a single starter in the game, with Wells coming closest by finishing fifth in fan voting among AL outfielders.
Starting for the American League, which has a 40-34-2 edge over the National League, will be Detroit’s Ivan Rodriguez at catcher, Boston’s David Ortiz at first and Mark Loretta at second, the Yankees’ Derek Jeter at short and Alex Rodriguez at third, with the Angels’ Vladimir Guerrero, Boston’s Manny Ramirez and Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki in the outfield.
“We don’t have the kind of support that the Red Sox and Yankees have where they pretty much have their whole starting lineups starting in that game,” said Wells. “These guys have played well and we’ve been able to have a good first half.”
Rios, who remains in a Toronto hospital with a severe left leg infection, was replaced on the roster by Gary Matthews Jr. of Texas. He can still attend the all-star game festivities although it wasn’t clear if he would.
“I would assume he’d go and get introduced. He should,” said Gibbons. “He got recognized by his peers, he’s having that kind of year.”
Added Wells: “This definitely won’t be his last one, that’s for sure.”
Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C., was a tough omission. Jim Thome and Paul Konerko, both of the White Sox, are the AL’s backup first basemen.
Aside from Halladay and Ryan, Guillen’s pitching staff includes three members of his White Sox: Jose Contreras, an early favourite to start for the AL, Mark Buehrle and closer Bobby Jenks. Minnesota’s Johan Santana, Detroit’s Kenny Rogers, Mark Redman of Kansas City and Oakland lefty Barry Zito are the other starters.
Also in the AL’s fearsome bullpen are Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon and ageless Yankees stopper Mariano Rivera.
Joining Bay in the NL’s starting outfield are Carlos Beltran of the Mets and Washington’s Alfonso Soriano.
Paul Lo Duca of the Mets is the starting catcher, Albert Pujols, the St. Louis slugger who led all players with 3,418,555 votes, is at first, Philadelphia’s Chase Utley is at second, the Mets’ David Wright is at third and teammate Jose Reyes is at short.
Houston Astros manager Phil Garner can choose from Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine of the Mets, Arizona’s Brandon Webb, Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo, St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter, Brad Penny of the Dodgers, San Francisco’s Jason Schmidt and Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs for his starting pitcher.
In the NL bullpen are Philadelphia’s Tom Gordon, Milwaukee’s Derrick Turnbow, San Diego’s Trevor Hoffman and Colorado’s Brian Fuentes.
The bevy of all-star selections came as nice surprise to the Blue Jays, who weren’t sure how the whole selection process was going to play out. The fact that all five were chosen in the players’ vote stirred some pride in the clubhouse.
“I think every player will tell you that having the respect of other players is probably the biggest compliment,” said Halladay. “The way we’ve been playing lately and the way guys have been producing, I think other teams are going to recognize that, especially when we get a chance to play them.”
Halladay, who was going to start last year’s game until a broken leg felled him the weekend before the game, won’t have a chance to start this one. He’s starting Sunday in Kansas City and will likely only be available for an inning.
“I don’t really see a problem pitching. That’s the reason you go, you look forward to getting in the game,” said Halladay, 10-2 with a 3.22 ERA. “It was disappointing not to be able to go last year, but it’s going to be more fun for me just because there are so many guys from here going.”
Halladay, Ryan (1-0 with 0.45 ERA and 22 saves) and Wells (.315 with 20 homers and 62 RBIs) were obvious picks, but things were going to be tough for Rios (.330 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs) and Glaus (.248 with 22 homers and 57 RBIs).
But Glaus was a clear winner in the players’ vote at third base over Oakland’s Eric Chavez (205-183), Wells was second and Rios fifth among outfielders while Halladay was second among starters and Ryan second among relievers.
“You want to be respected by your peers, that’s the biggest thing,” said Ryan.
Cito Gaston was the manager the year the Blue Jays sent seven players to the 1993 all-star game, his reward for leading the club to its first World Series title in 1992. He was the manager again in 1994, when four Jays took part in the contest.
More recently the Blue Jays had three players chosen for the 2000 and 2003 affairs.
“I would have guessed five but I don’t know how it all sets up,” said Gibbons. “We have some good players, guys having good years. We have a good club. It’s good for the town, well represented.”
Glaus is hoping the all-star game isn’t the only place the Blue Jays end up one-upping the Red Sox and Yankees.
“Obviously the talent that was in here was very, very good,” he said. “Hopefully we can all stay healthy and put a run together and kind of get back into this thing and see where it goes.”
Five Blue Jays named as all-stars