Michael Cuddyer a first-time All-Star at age 32

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I can’t summon up a lot of angst about this one.  No, Michael Cuddyer isn’t one of the AL’s top 10 outfielders.  One could argue about whether he’s in the top 20.  Still, I think every guy who sticks around as a nice regular for 12-15 years should get to experience an All-Star selection once.

Cuddyer, a free agent-to-be, is in his 11th season and very possibly his final season with the Twins.  He’s been a regular the last eight of them, hitting as many as 32 homers and driving in as many as 109 runs.  Along the way, he’s played whatever posititon the team has asked for him.  He was drafted as a shortstop, converted to third base and established himself as a full-time right fielder in the majors, only to return to the infield at both second and third when needed the last couple of years.

This season, Cuddyer shook off a positively horrible start — he went 16 straight games without an RBI to begin the season — to rebound to .286/.356/.459 with 11 homers and 32 RBI.  The .815 OPS ranks him eighth among AL outfielders.

In the end, Cuddyer is likely only in this position because Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau got hurt.  Also, a healthy Denard Span would have been a better choice for the AL roster.  Based on 2011 play alone, I’d rather have seen the AL team carry Alex Gordon in the outfield and then Scott Baker over Aaron Crow, leaving the Twins and Royals with their one rep apiece.

But I’m not upset over Cuddyer’s pick.  It’s a nice reward for a guy in the midst of a fine career who may never have such an opportunity again.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.