Aramis Ramirez opts out, so Pablo Sandoval is an All-Star


Manager Bruce Bochy will get to call on another Giant.

Aramis Ramirez would have been the choice to take Placido Polanco’s spot on the NL All-Star team, but he’s following through with his plans to go home to visit family in the Dominican Republic.  As a result, Pablo Sandoval will go to his first All-Star Game.

There was a groundswell to make Sandoval an All-Star back when he was on his way to hitting .330 with 25 homers in his first full season in 2009, but there was no room on the roster for him then, and Sandoval was such a disappointment in 2010 that the Giants threatened to send him back to the minors to begin this season if he didn’t get into better shape.

Sandoval, though, did drop some weight, and he’s excelled when healthy during a 2011 season interrupted by a broken hamate bone.  He’s hit .305/.345/.505 with eight homers in 190 at-bats, and he carried a 20-game hitting streak into Sunday’s action.

Sandoval will be the lone Giants positions player on the NL roster, but he will have plenty of teammates to hang out with; Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and closer Brian Wilson were all originally picked for the squad last week.

4:45 p.m. EDT: And, apparently, I’m still wrong.  Sandoval is going to the All-Star Game, but he’ll be the replacement for Jose Reyes.  We still don’t know who is taking Polanco’s spot.  Presumably, it will be a shortstop (Stephen Drew?).

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.