Projecting the NL All-Star roster

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The current NL All-Star balloting totals are out,
and it looks like shortstop and the third outfielder may be the only
spots still up for grabs. So, with still six weeks left to go before
the Midsummer Classic, let’s try to guess the NL roster.

Catchers

Starter: Yadier Molina
Backups: Brian McCann, Bengie Molina

Yadier has a 157,000-vote lead over Jason Kendall and is more than
200,000 votes up on McCann, so it certainly seems as though he’ll be
the choice. At least he’s a strong enough defender that it’s not such
an embarrassing pick. McCann will surely be picked as a backup. Jesus
Flores and Carlos Ruiz have been the next most productive catchers, but
they’ve both logged DL time, as has Chris Iannetta. Bengie Molina’s big
RBI total will make him a strong candidate, though with Matt Cain and
Tim Lincecum around, it’s doubtful that he’d have to make the team as
the Giants’ lone rep.

First basemen

Starter: Albert Pujols
Backups: Adrian Gonzalez

Pujols had to settle for a backup role behind Lance Berkman last
year, but he’s easily the NL’s leading vote-getter so far this year and
he’s a full 700,000 votes up on Prince Fielder at first base. With 20
homers already, Gonzalez is practically assured of a bench spot. Joey
Votto seemed like the best choice for a third first baseman, but since
he’s on the shelf, Ryan Howard and Fielder are in the mix if another is
taken. Also, Jorge Cantu is a possibility if the Marlins need a rep and
neither Hanley Ramirez nor Josh Johnson is taken.

Second basemen

Starter: Chase Utley
Backups: Orlando Hudson, Freddy Sanchez

It should work out that there is room for five middle infielders.
I’m going with three second basemen and two shortstops, though it could
easily work out the other way. Utley, who is second to Pujols in the
overall voting, is a lock to start, and Hudson would seem to have the
obvious edge on the backup job. I’m picking Sanchez over Brandon
Phillips here, making him the lone Pirate on the squad.

Third basemen

Starter: David Wright
Backups: Ryan Zimmerman, Chipper Jones

Wright leads Zimmerman in the balloting by 200,000 votes, with
Chipper in fourth. Casey Blake is also playing very well, but that
doesn’t figure to last. Mark Reynolds has a chance of going if no other
Diamondbacks make the team. Arizona does have Justin Upton and Dan
Haren as alternatives, though.

Shortstops

Starter: Jimmy Rollins
Backup: Hanley Ramirez

Ramirez currently has a 17,000-vote lead over Rollins in the
balloting, but I’m guessing that won’t hold up, even with Ramirez
possessing 350 points of OPS on Rollins. If Ramirez does win the vote,
then Rollins won’t make the team and Miguel Tejada would seem to be the
clear favorite to act as the backup. Tejada could potentially be the
lone Astro unless Wandy Rodriguez or Carlos Lee is selected.

Outfielders

Starters: Ryan Braun, Raul Ibanez, Alfonso Soriano
Backups: Carlos Beltran, Justin Upton, Adam Dunn, Brad Hawpe

Soriano is currently 33,000 votes up on Beltran for the last starting
spot. Cubs tend to do extremely well in the voting, so I’m guessing
he’ll increase that lead, even though Beltran is the more deserving
player. If Beltran does get it, then Soriano wouldn’t seem to have a
very good chance of making the club as a reserve, potentially opening
up a spot for Mike Cameron or Nate McLouth.

The other reserves seem like clear choices. The top six outfielders
in OPS are all represented here (Ibanez, Hawpe, Upton, Beltran, Dunn
and Braun), and Hawpe would probably be the only Rockie. If Dunn gets
ripped off again, that could open up a spot for Cameron. Cameron has
been to just one All-Star Game, that coming in 2001, and this would
seem to be his last good chance to go to a second.

Pitchers

Starters: Johan Santana, Chad Billingsley, Tim Lincecum, Yovani Gallardo, Wandy Rodriguez, Josh Johnson, Johnny Cueto
Relievers: Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton, Heath Bell, Trevor Hoffman, Francisco Cordero

Obviously, when it comes to pitchers, a great deal will depend on
who is scheduled to work the Sunday before the All-Star Game and who
isn’t. Odds are that either Lincecum or Cain will go from the Giants,
but not both. Other starting pitchers shaping up as options are Dan
Haren, Jair Jurrjens, Zach Duke, Jake Peavy, Adam Wainwright, Derek
Lowe and Ted Lilly.

Video: This is an interesting way to avoid getting tagged out

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 20:  Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets is congratulated by teammates after he hit a solo home run against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the third inning at AT&T Park on August 20, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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The Mets rode a bloop hit and a fortuitous slide by Yoenis Cespedes into a four-run fifth inning against the Cardinals during Thursday night’s game.

After Cespedes drew a one-out walk, James Loney hit a weak pop-up into shallow left field. Left fielder Brandon Moss and shortstop Greg Garcia both gave chase but it dropped in. Cespedes, running the bases aggressively, sprinted towards third base. Moss scooped up the ball and threw to Adam Wainwright covering third base.

Cespedes appeared to have been tagged out by Wainwright, but as luck would have it, Cespedes’ cleats stuck on Wainwright’s glove and yanked it off. Cespedes was ruled safe and the Cardinals challenged the call, but it was ultimately upheld.

After that play, Curtis Granderson struck out, Wilmer Flores reached on a fielding error by Garcia, and Alejandro De Aza hit a three-run home run to right field, pushing the Mets’ lead to 7-0.

Video: Jason Kipnis jokes around after Rougned Odor slides hard into second base

DETROIT, MI - JUNE 24:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians takes to the field for the ninth inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on June 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. Kipnis hit two triples and drove in three runs in a 7-4 win over the Tigers. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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You may recall that, back in May, Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor got into a fight with Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. Bautista slid late into second base, with which Odor took issue, so he punched Bautista in the face. That earned him a seven-game suspension.

With one out in the fifth inning of Thursday’s game against the Indians, Odor reached on a fielding error by first baseman Mike Napoli. Jonathan Lucroy then hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. Odor slid hard into Jason Kipnis covering second base.

Kipnis, hearkening back to the Bautista fight, backed up as if he were afraid Odor would punch him. Odor got a good chuckle out of it, but it was the Rangers’ bench which perhaps enjoyed the joke most. The Rangers’ broadcast showing Adrian Beltre cracking up and telling his other teammates what had happened.