Projecting the 2010 AL All-Star team

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With rosters having been expanded back in April, both All-Star teams this year will have 21 position players and 13 pitchers. Let’s try and break it down, first with the AL and then tomorrow with the NL.
Catcher
Lock: Joe Mauer
Possibilities: Victor Martinez, Jorge Posada, John Buck, Kurt Suzuki
Posada is playing as well as ever, with a .275/.348/.600 line to date. However, he’s taken part in just 42 games and started at catcher in only 25 of those. Plus, manager Joe Girardi may figure it’s best for the Yankees if Posada gets three full days off rather than taking part in the All-Star festivities. That might make Martinez the favorite here.
First base
Locks: Justin Morneau, Miguel Cabrera
Possibilities: Kevin Youkilis, Paul Konerko, Mark Teixeira, Billy Butler
Morneau, Cabrera and Youkilis rank first, second and third, respectively, in the AL in OPS. I think that makes Youkilis close to a lock, particularly with the DH available. The AL could even go with a fourth first baseman, probably Konerko. He ranks sixth in OPS and third in homers.
Teixeira is listed simply because he might yet claim the fan balloting over Morneau. Still, that ship has likely sailed.
Second base
Lock: Robinson Cano
Possibilities: Dustin Pedroia, Ty Wigginton, Ben Zobrist, Orlando Hudson, Howie Kendrick
Pedroia’s recent rebound has given him the third-best numbers among AL second basemen, behind Cano and Wigginton. Wigginton is the obvious choice to represent the Orioles, though actually sticking him at second base in the All-Star Game would be a mistake. Really more of a corner infielder, he’s given back a lot of his offensive value while being asked to fill in for Brian Roberts at second.
Third base
Lock: Evan Longoria
Possibilities: Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre, Jose Bautista, Michael Young
Among AL third basemen, Longoria, Beltre and Bautista rank first, second and third, respectively, in both OPS and RBI. A-Rod seemed to be surging a few weeks ago, but he’s struggling since retuning from a hip injury and is down to .277/.349/.459 for the season. Still, he is A-Rod and he probably deserves to go.
Shortstop
Lock: Derek Jeter
Possibilities: Alex Gonzalez, Marco Scutaro, Elvis Andrus
Gonzalez’s 802 OPS is easily tops among AL shortstops, with Jeter (760) and Scutaro (742) next in line. Andrus, the best fielder in the group, is at 681, but his 360 OPS is the best in the league and he’s swiped 19 bases. He’d be a more worthy choice than Scutaro if the team carries three shortstops.
Outfield
Lock: Ichiro Suzuki
Possibilites: Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton, Torii Hunter, Magglio Ordonez, Alex Rios, Nelson Cruz, Vernon Wells, Nick Swisher, David DeJesus, Luke Scott, Delmon Young, Shin-Soo Choo, Brennan Boesch
Here’s where it gets messy. Crawford and Hamilton are currently second and third in the balloting and both deserve to go anyway, so they’re close to locks. Cruz has been the AL’s best outfielder when healthy, but he’s played in just 32 of 69 games. That would seem to rule him out, but he’s fourth in the balloting, and since Hamilton seems likely to be picked anyway, maybe the fans will make even more of a push to get him in.
Hunter and Rios would seem to be the best bets beyond Ichiro, Crawford and Hamilton. Hunter, who is fourth among AL outfielders in OPS, could conceivably be the only Angel on the team. Rios is second on the OPS list behind Hamilton. Ordonez is third, but he doesn’t have the sexy power numbers.
Choo isn’t having a stellar year, but he’s the obvious choice to represent the Indians. DeJesus, with his 892 OPS, actually is having an All-Star caliber year, and he could be the Royals’ rep, though Joakim Soria and Butler are also deserving.
DH
Lock: Vladimir Guerrero
Possibilities: David Ortiz, Jose Guillen
It’s possible Ortiz will go, maybe as the fan-balloting pick for the last roster spot. Still, he can’t be chosen over a third first baseman. Guillen would only be considered as the long Royal, and there are several better choices there.
Pitcher
SP possibilities: David Price, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, Cliff Lee, Phil Hughes, Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Jered Weaver, Jeff Niemann, Francisco Liriano, Colby Lewis, Ricky Romero, John Danks, Shawn Marcum, Felix Hernandez, Carl Pavano, Zack Greinke
RP possibilities: Mariano Rivera, Jose Valverde, Jonathan Papelbon, Rafael Soriano, Joakim Soria, Neftali Feliz, Jon Rauch, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Joel Zumaya, Matt Guerrier, Matt Thornton, Scott Downs, Darren Oliver
Of course, so much of this will come down to who pitches the final Sunday before the game. Several starting pitchers could be taken out of the running then.
The relievers are easier to figure. Rivera is a lock, and Valverde seems on his way, too. I listed the three lefties last. It’d make sense for the team to carry at least one of them, particularly since there are few closers having extraordinary seasons.
OK, it’s guessing time…
The 2010 AL All-Stars
Lineup

RF Ichiro Suzuki
SS Derek Jeter
C Joe Mauer
1B Justin Morneau
DH Vladimir Guerrero
2B Robinson Cano
CF Josh Hamilton
3B Evan Longoria
LF Carl Crawford
Reserves
C Victor Martinez
1B Miguel Cabrera
1B Kevin Youkilis
2B Dustin Pedroia
2B Ty Wigginton
3B Alex Rodriguez
3B Jose Bautista
SS Alex Gonzalez
OF Torii Hunter
OF Alex Rios
OF David DeJesus
OF Shin-Soo Choo
Pitchers
David Price
Clay Buchholz
Jon Lester
Cliff Lee
Phil Hughes
CC Sabathia
Jered Weaver
Mariano Rivera
Jose Valverde
Jonathan Papelbon
Rafael Soriano
Andrew Bailey
Matt Thornton

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.