Chipper Jones replaces Matt Kemp on NL All-Star team

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It’s a case of very unusual timing, what with Chipper Jones currently leading the NL Final Vote, but the National League announced Tuesday that Jones would replace the injured Matt Kemp on the All-Star team.

The most recent reports had Chipper holding a slim lead in the Final Vote balloting over Cardinals third baseman David Freese, with Bryce Harper in third place.

Final Vote balloting ends Thursday afternoon, so it’s hard to see why the league didn’t just wait until then to announce Kemp’s replacement. If Freese goes on to win the balloting, it would give the NL team four third basemen, which hardly seems necessary. Now that Chipper is out of the mix, Harper figures to pick up more votes from the non-St. Louis contingent. Harper, of course, threw his support behind Chipper when the ballot was announced Sunday.

It will be Chipper’s eighth All-Star nod. The 1999 NL MVP and future Hall of Famer announced earlier this year that he’d retire at season’s end.

As for Kemp, he’s still expected to take part in Monday’s Home Run Derby, even though he’s on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. Ryan Braun automatically replaces him in the starting lineup because of his placement in the player’s vote, but this still gives manager Tony La Russa a decision to make, as Braun was the obvious choice to start at DH if Kemp had been able to play. Now La Russa can take his pick. Carlos Gonzalez is one possibility. David Wright could be another, particularly if Freese wins the Final Vote and gives the team the extra third baseman.

Yankees activate Gary Sanchez

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The Yankees have activated catcher Gary Sanchez from the 10-day disabled list. To clear a roster spot for him, the Yankees optioned Kyle Higashioka to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Sanchez missed close to a month with a strained groin. His return is more than just a comeback from an injury, however. It’s a chance to start the season over in a sense, with the hopes of putting his dreadful first half behind him. The Yankees catcher hit a horrible .190/.291/.433 with 14 home runs, 41 RBI, and 36 runs scored in 265 plate appearances before going down. He’ll look to get back on track against the Mets tonight.