Jayson Stark tweets that both of the All-Star managers were told by Major League Baseball that they needed to pick a “multi-position” player in order to take advantage of the new rule allowing managers to return one player to the game after he comes out. It was for that reason, Stark says, Charlie Manuel chose Omar Infante and Joe Girardi chose Ty Wigginton, each of whom are capable of playing multiple positions.
Stark’s take: if fans had known that beforehand, and if there had been a position for, say, “designated utilityman” or something, no one would have had a problem with the Infante pick. He’s probably right about that.
Of course that still doesn’t make perfect sense because, to take advantage of the re-substitution rule, the managers would have to play Infante and Wigginton someplace else first, remove them and then return them to the game, which means more play from undeserving players than from legitimate All-Stars, and that would be silly. Better to have no re-substitution rule at all and instead have an extra roster spot for utility guy who is not intended to play unless the game goes into extra innings, the team gets desperate or whatever.
But I get what Stark’s saying. And it makes it pretty clear that Charlie Manuel didn’t think that Omar Infante was somehow a more deserving All-Star selection than Joey Votto or someone. The bosses told him to take a utility guy, and as far as utility guys go, Infante is as good a choice as any in the National League.
He still needs to explain that Ryan Howard pick, though, because he’s just got no business there this year.