Major League Baseball unveiled the 2011 All-Star ballot on Tuesday for the July 12 game in Phoenix.
And, fear not, Sam Fuld did make the cut, as the league chose to list Johnny Damon at DH and Ben Zobrist at second base for the Rays.
So, head over and cast your vote. Or, better yet, unless you happen to be reading this from a ballpark, wait a couple of months since the season is still just four weeks old at the moment.
In the meantime, here’s my ballot, just for the fun of it.
C Joe Mauer
1B Miguel Cabrera
2B Robinson Cano
3B Alex Rodriguez
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
OF Jose Bautista
OF Josh Hamilton
OF Carl Crawford (Or Shin-Soo Choo or Ichiro)
DH Adam Dunn
C Buster Posey
1B Albert Pujols (Joey Votto can DH)
2B Rickie Weeks
3B Chipper Jones (One last start for a future HOF)
SS Troy Tulowitzki
OF Ryan Braun
OF Matt Holliday
OF Matt Kemp
Obviously, there are a couple of slow starters there, but that’s OK. One thing I don’t like: while I agree with the idea that the DH should be used in every All-Star Game, I’d rather it didn’t get a spot on the ballot. Adrian Gonzalez, Evan Longoria and Mark Teixeira are all likely to more deserving of that start than Dunn or David Ortiz. It puts the AL at a disadvantage that the NL can just slide Votto or Prince Fielder in there.
One other note: for the second year in a row, Detroit’s Brennan Boesch may very well be the most deserving player not on the ballot (though Jed Lowrie is right there, too). Last year, he wasn’t called up until April 23, so there was no helping that. This year, though, he was bypassed despite a .348 average in 69 at-bats. He ranks 11th in the AL in OPS.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.