Kansas City having the top vote-getter at seven of the nine American League positions in last week’s All-Star game voting update was a big story, but get this: Now they have eight of the nine spots.
Omar Infante, who’s hitting .204 with an AL-worst .496 OPS this season, has jumped ahead of Jose Altuve to become the leading vote-getter at second base.
Which means the only non-Royals player currently in line to start the All-Star game for the AL is reigning MVP Mike Trout of the Angels, who’d be surrounded by catcher Salvador Perez, first baseman Eric Hosmer, second baseman Omar Infante, shortstop Alcides Escobar, third baseman Mike Moustakas, outfielders Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain, and designated hitter Kendrys Morales.
Alex Rios is the only Royals player on the AL ballot not currently in line to start and even he’s fourth among outfielders despite playing just 18 games and hitting .197 this season.
Here are the position-by-position totals:
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.