07/03/11 8:18 PM ET
Kemp, Kershaw picked for first All-Star Game
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
The announcements were made Sunday on the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell.
The 82nd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. PT. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
The 26-year-old Kemp, with a late rally in the fan voting, overtook Matt Holliday for the third spot in the starting outfield, joining Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and St. Louis' Lance Berkman.
"A big shout-out to the fans of L.A.," Kemp said. "They did a good job voting and getting me in there. It's pretty overwhelming. It hasn't sunk in.
"I'm really excited. I've got to wear my GQ. I've got some suits ready to bust out. I've been waiting for this."
The 23-year-old Kershaw is the youngest Dodgers All-Star since 22-year-old Ramon Martinez in 1990 and was their youngest Opening Day starting pitcher since Fernando Valenzuela in 1983. Kershaw was named on the players' list. Pitchers are not part of the fan voting.
"The coolest part is to be voted in by your peers. It's cool to get respected like that," said Kershaw.
Last year the Dodgers had four All-Stars -- Andre Ethier, Jonathan Broxton, Rafael Furcal and Hong-Chih Kuo -- Furcal and Kuo being added as injury replacements.
Ethier is one of five players on the 2011 National League All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint.
The All-Star honor is the most significant tribute to Kemp's rebound from a disappointing 2009 season, while it further establishes Kershaw's continuing career arc toward the elite of Major League starting pitchers.
"I'm just proud of Matty. Really," said manager Don Mattingly. "He had a rough year last year. I know, right, rough at 28 [homers] and 90 [RBIs], but overall I think he had a tough year and had a lot going on. I'm just proud of the fact that all the work he did in the winter, the focus he's had from the first day of Spring Training, the leadership he's shown in this clubhouse."
Kemp has spent the first half of this season at or near the top of all three Triple Crown categories and is tied for the NL lead with 22 home runs, after hitting 28 all last season. He's indicated in the past that he'd be excited about participating in the All-Star Home Run Derby.
"I'm pretty sure if [Home Run Derby captain Prince Fielder] picks me, I'm in it," Kemp said. "As a kid, everybody dreams of going up against the biggest home run hitters in baseball. I remember seeing Frank Thomas in it and it's been one of my dreams, definitely, if I get the chance to be in it."
Kemp also brought his batting average up about 80 points from last year and has resumed his high percentage of stolen bases (22 of 25 this year, 19 of 34 last year).
"Last year is behind me," Kemp said. "I didn't want to think about it, I just wanted to prove to everybody I could still play and be good in this game. I hope the first half carries over to the second half."
He's good enough to have joined current first-base coach Davey Lopes as the only Los Angeles Dodgers to have at least 20 homers and 20 steals before the All-Star break. Kemp has the longest active consecutive games played streak in the Major Leagues (287) and leads the Dodgers in average, homers, RBIs, runs scored, walks, stolen bases, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
Kershaw saw a two-month, six-win streak snapped Saturday night against the Angels, but he nonetheless leads the Majors in strikeouts (138) and leads the Dodgers in wins, complete games, shutouts and innings pitched.
Mattingly was asked if this is likely the first of many All-Star berths for Kershaw.
"Yeah, it really is, but you can't look too far into the crystal ball," Mattingly said. "You just want him to keep getting better. ... This year he's pitched the same, kind of, as last year, but this year he's getting the wins."
Since his big league debut in 2008, Kershaw leads the MLB in lowest opponents' batting average.
"It's all about performing," said Kershaw. "All the other stuff doesn't matter if you don't perform. Last night was rough, but fortunately they picked the team before that game."
Kershaw seemed just as happy for Kemp as he was for himself, saying he was looking forward to watching his center fielder in the Home Run Derby and acknowledging Dodgers fans for the late boost into the starting lineup.
"It's awesome," he said. "Matt has a deserving big fan base and it's nice to see they showed support for the players. Obviously, attendance is down, hopefully for other circumstances. We still have support in L.A. and around the country and it's awesome for Matty."
Kershaw's next start is scheduled for Thursday night, so he expects to pitch in the All-Star Game. Pitchers who start next Sunday are ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game.
Kemp gives the Dodgers an All-Star starting outfielder for the second consecutive season (Ethier was voted in last year), after a 19-year drought since Darryl Strawberry had the honor in 1991. Kershaw is the Dodgers' first left-handed starting pitcher named to an All-Star team since Odalis Perez in 2002.
Kemp was a Final Vote finalist in 2009, losing out to former Dodgers farmhand Shane Victorino. He will be the first outfielder drafted by the Dodgers to start an All-Star Game representing the Dodgers.
Kemp was a sixth-round pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, while Kershaw was a first-round pick in 2006. Kemp joins Chad Billingsley (2009) as the second Dodger from the 2003 Draft to be an All-Star.
Fans, having already decided the starters, this week will have the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team, with Ethier one of the five NL finalists. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and continues until 1 p.m. PT on Thursday, July 7. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Messaging and data rates may apply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. Standard rates may apply.
On July 12, fans once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.