Six Red Sox excited to be AL All-Stars
Pedroia, Ortiz, Martinez, Lester, Buchholz, Beltre make squad
BOSTON -- To get through the first 81 games of the season tied for the Major League lead in wins, the Red Sox needed contributions from a lot of different players. Six of them were recognized as American League All-Stars on Sunday.
Headlining the group are the three first-timers -- third baseman Adrian Beltre, left-hander Jon Lester and right-hander Clay Buchholz. Designated hitter David Ortiz was named an All-Star for the sixth time in his career after serving as another demonstration of how dramatically he bounced back from an anemic April.
For the third time, second baseman Dustin Pedroia is an All-Star. But this marks the second consecutive year that he won't be able to play. Last year, Pedroia couldn't fly to St. Louis because his wife went into premature labor. This time, he might well fly to Anaheim and participate in the festivities, but can't play because he is on the disabled list with a fractured navicular bone in his left foot.
Speaking of fractures, Boston's sixth All-Star (catcher Victor Martinez) also has one -- on the tip of in his left thumb -- and won't be able to play in the All-Star Game, which will be played on July 13 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
Buchholz is also iffy to participate, as he hasn't pitched since June 26 with a left hamstring strain. Still, he had a hard time containing his excitement on Sunday.
"It's something that I dreamed about growing up," said Buchholz. "I'm as happy as can be."
Two years ago, Buchholz was struggling to live up to his phenom label and was humbled to the tune of a 2-9 record and a 6.75 ERA. He spent the entire first half of 2009 at Triple-A Pawtucket. But since his recall in July of '09, he has emerged into one of the top starting pitchers in the game. Buchholz is 10-4 with a 2.45 ERA in 15 starts this season.
"There's been a lot of ups and downs to get to this point," said Buchholz. "Being able to be named with the guys that's on, that's awesome."
All six of Boston's All-Stars were voted in as reserves by the players.
"I'm really excited," Pedroia said. "The players voted me in? That's pretty cool and pretty special. I'm excited about it."
Before fouling that ball off his left foot June 25 at San Francisco, Pedroia was having his usual stellar season, hitting .292 with 12 homers, 41 RBIs and a .370 on-base percentage. The night before his injury, he had the best offensive game of his career, going 5-for-5 with three homers and five RBIs in a 10-inning win at Colorado.
"It's fun," Pedroia said of being an All-Star. "I've only been to one in '08. It was a blast. It was a great time getting a chance to see everyone you play against and respect. It should be a blast for him."
It's hard to believe that Beltre -- a three-time Gold Glove winner and the runner-up in the 2004 Most Valuable Player Award voting -- has never been an All-Star.
But his monster numbers -- along with his typically stellar defense -- were too much to overlook this time. Beltre, in his first season with the Red Sox, is hitting .341 with 12 homers and 53 RBIs.
"It means a lot," said Beltre. "It's nice to have those three days off, but for me as a first-timer, you want to enjoy it and see how it's like."
Beltre's teammates were outwardly gratified to see him get rewarded.
"If there's one guy in this clubhouse who should be part of the All-Star Game, it's Adrian," said Ortiz. "Adrian has been doing an unbelievable job for this ballclub and I think he's earned it."
So, too, did Ortiz. After having his streak of five consecutive All-Star appearances snapped last year, Ortiz has been hitting like the Big Papi of old over the past couple of months. He has 17 homers and 54 RBIs entering Monday.
"It's just one of those years that people appreciate the job that you're doing on the field, and it gives you an opportunity to be in the All-Star Game," said Ortiz. "I really appreciate it -- what the players think about a guy like myself. Like I say, I'm a guy that tries to respect everyone and plays the game the way it's supposed to be."
Then there is Lester, who struggled in his first three starts, but has been dominant in his 14 starts since April 23, going 10-1 with a 1.84 ERA. Overall, he is 10-3 with a 2.76 ERA.
"It's obviously big," said Lester. "It's something you grow up watching as a kid, the Home Run Derby and everything. You see a lot of great players playing that game. It's definitely an honor. Like I said before, I'm going to try to do my best to represent the Red Sox and hopefully do well out there."
After pitching Boston's AL Division Series opener the past two years, an All-Star appearance certainly seemed a certainty at some point for Lester.
"Jonny, he definitely deserves it," said Buchholz. "I thought he deserved it last year."
Martinez was an All-Star three times for the Indians and now gets that honor in his first full season with the Red Sox. He is expected to return to action shortly after the All-Star break. Martinez had caught fire before the injury, hitting .354 in June. For the season, he is hitting .289 with nine homers and 38 RBIs.
The Red Sox have a chance to have seven All-Stars, as first baseman Kevin Youkilis is one of five players on the American League's Final Vote ballot.
"I think we're deserving," said Youkilis. "I think we have just as many wins as any team in baseball. That speaks for itself. We started out horribly and had a lot of injuries and battled a lot of adversity and we deserve to have a lot of guys on the All-Star team. When you have the most wins in baseball, you deserve to have more All-Stars [then other teams]."
"I think this is well-deserved by our guys," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Those guys are very deserving. With Youk, I hope our fans find a way to get him there. I think he's very deserving."
Fans, having already decided the starters and this week the final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.