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Nothing typical about these AL East champion Orioles

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Nothing typical about these AL East champion Orioles

Posted on 17 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — For years, the discrepancy was clear as the Orioles wallowed at the bottom of the American League East.

Lagging behind in payroll and player development, they looked up at the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays while being stuck in neutral with no apparent direction or plan of how to get better. The Orioles didn’t spend like New York or Boston and couldn’t cultivate their own talent like Tampa Bay while suffering through a seemingly endless run of fourth- and fifth-place finishes in the toughest division in baseball year in and year out.

When the Orioles finally broke through Tuesday night with an 8-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays to win their first AL East title since 1997, it was an atypical sum of the parts that put them on top. Yes, their payroll is higher now than it was for years, but it still remains in the middle of the pack and far below those of the Yankees and Red Sox. Their farm system has produced a number of key players, but it isn’t the well-oiled machine like those of other top organizations in baseball.

It started with Andy MacPhail using some savvy trades and top draft picks to put together a core group of All-Star talent and continued with the arrival of manager Buck Showalter and current executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who began filling in the gaps with below-the-radar additions and, finally, a couple high-profile free agents this past winter. What’s resulted is a club that’s won more than 90 games for the second time in three years and appears poised to make a deep run in October.

The journey certainly hasn’t been easy as the season-ending injuries to catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado and the recent 25-game suspension of first baseman Chris Davis have provided easy excuses for the Orioles to wilt down the stretch. Not all has gone to plan as the $50 million free-agent addition of starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez has been an utter failure in the first season of a four-year commitment.

But Tuesday’s win provided the perfect microcosm of what’s made the Orioles continue to thrive in 2014.

You can expect the unexpected.

Making his first start in a month after being dumped from the starting rotation, Jimenez overcame a shaky beginning to pitch five solid innings to earn just his fifth win of the season. Ironically, it was the kind of important game in which the Orioles envisioned Jimenez pitching when they signed him in February.

A three-run home run in the first inning came off the bat of Steve Pearce, the journeyman who was designated for assignment in April before being re-signed a few days later when Davis went on the disabled list. The 31-year-old has gone on to hit a career-high 18 homers, which is more than he’d hit in his first seven major league seasons combined. More than any other player, Pearce might be the ultimate symbol of the 2014 Orioles when the final chapter is written sometime next month.

A solo shot came an inning later from third baseman Jimmy Paredes, who was claimed off waivers by the Orioles during spring training and then lost to the Kansas City Royals a couple days later. Duquette eventually reacquired the 25-year-old in time for him to provide a handful of big hits in his few weeks with the club.

T.J. McFarland pitched a scoreless sixth inning. He was the Rule 5 selection the Orioles stubbornly retained on the 25-man roster all last season.

Darren O’Day provided 1 1/3 innings of excellent relief as he has for the last three seasons. The sidearm pitcher was claimed off waivers from Texas before Duquette was even hired three years ago.

Left field Alejandro De Aza hit the three-run triple in the seventh to bust the game open after he was acquired for two nondescript minor-league pitchers at the waiver trade deadline late last month.

Dominant lefty Andrew Miller struck out the only two hitters he faced and has been exactly what the Orioles envisioned when they acquired the best relief pitcher on the market while the rest of baseball lauded Oakland and Detroit for acquiring Jon Lester and David Price, respectively. The Orioles now own a better record than the Athletics and the Tigers.

When Pearce fielded the final out for the club’s 91st win of the season, it was just the latest example of the sum being much greater than the parts appear on paper.

There hasn’t been a set formula apparent to the rest of the baseball world that explains the Orioles’ ascent over the last few years, but they play great defense, hit home runs, and have pitched as well as anyone since early June. Those strengths have allowed them to overcome the loss of All-Star position players and failed free-agent acquisitions.

For Duquette and Showalter, the question isn’t who is the best player as much as it’s who is the best fit. It hasn’t been about spending money as much as it’s been about making the smartest decision.

And it’s been perfectly imperfect as Baltimore wrapped up the division title with 11 games to spare.

Whether they have 11 wins in them next month remains to be seen, but the journey to this point has been both difficult and overwhelmingly rewarding.

And it paid off with a celebration at Camden Yards Tuesday night while the rest of the American League East was looking up at the Orioles for a change.

 

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Orioles’ ability to overcome adversity begins with starters

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Orioles’ ability to overcome adversity begins with starters

Posted on 14 September 2014 by Luke Jones

With Friday’s surprising news of Chris Davis being suspended 25 games for amphetamine use, the same question that’s been tossed the Orioles’ way all season was uttered once again.

How can they overcome this?

Despite an 88-60 record entering Sunday that had them days away from the American League East championship, the Orioles have faced anything but a problem-free campaign in 2014.

All-Star players Matt Wieters and Manny Machado have suffered season-ending injuries. Top free-agent acquisition Ubaldo Jimenez has not only failed to meet expectations, but has been banished to the last spot in the bullpen and is very likely to be left off the postseason roster. And even before Davis’ suspension that now bans him until at least the AL Championship Series — if the Orioles advance that far — the slugger was hitting only .196 a year after hitting a franchise-record and league-leading 53 home runs.

“The game usually gives you back kind of what you put into it,” said manager Buck Showalter after the Orioles’ doubleheader sweep of the New York Yankees on Friday. “Everybody’s putting something into it.”

The narratives of resiliency and a different hero every night have frequently rung true, but they don’t paint the entire picture of how the Orioles have managed to all but run away with their first division title since 1997. We knew the Orioles would hit home runs and play exceptional defense entering the season, and those skills have certainly been there all year.

But the biggest question would be the pitching, particularly in the rotation. Even with the struggles of their $50 million addition in Jimenez, the starting pitching has not only silenced the doubts, but has been a strength since the first two months of the season. Through the end of May, the starting rotation had posted an underwhelming 4.49 ERA as the Orioles were 27-27. Since June 1, starters have pitched to an impeccable 3.20 mark, which would be tops in the AL if extrapolated over the entire season. The Orioles have gone 61-33 over that period of time, a .649 winning percentage.

Even with the unevenness of April and May included, Baltimore ranks sixth in the AL in starter ERA, which nearly any fan would have gladly taken at the start of the season. The current team ERA of 3.50 would be the Orioles’ lowest in a full season since 1979 when the AL champions posted a 3.26 ERA.

When being compared to the other top clubs around baseball, the Orioles are often sold short for lacking a true ace, but that hasn’t stopped the starting rotation from becoming the strong heartbeat of a club nearly 30 games above .500 in mid-September. All five members of the current rotation sport an ERA of 3.74 or better, making Showalter’s job a difficult one when deciding which four will make the postseason rotation.

Not only has the quintet of Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Kevin Gausman pitched effectively, but the group has been durable with only Gonzalez and Norris spending brief time on the disabled list this season. After using a total of 12 or more starters in each of the previous three seasons under Showalter, the Orioles have sent just seven starters to the hill in 2014 with long reliever T.J. McFarland only receiving one spot start.

Four Oriole starters — Tillman, Chen, Norris, and Gonzalez — have made 24 or more starts. For perspective, only three made 24 or more starts in 2013 and just one did it in 2012 when the Orioles earned their first postseason trip in 15 years.

Upon learning of Davis’ suspension on Friday, the Orioles responded by promptly sweeping a twin bill over the Yankees in which they allowed one run in 20 total innings. The nightcap was particularly indicative of what the Orioles have become as they fielded what looked like a spring training lineup that included only four players from the Opening Day order and three who weren’t even on the 40-man roster at the start of the year. It was no problem for Bud Norris, who pitched seven shutout innings against the fading Yankees in a 5-0 victory.

“Good pitching solves a lot of problems, issues, whatever you might want to call it,” said Showalter as he reflected on the work his club did following the Davis announcement on Friday. “That’s usually where it starts.”

And it’s why the Orioles shouldn’t be counted out, even after this latest blow to the lineup.

 

 

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Orioles can prove to be beasts of East by surviving West Coast

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Orioles can prove to be beasts of East by surviving West Coast

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Luke Jones

Sitting in first place at the All-Star break for the first time since 1997 didn’t exactly earn the Orioles any favors as they started the second half of the season in Oakland on Friday night.

A 10-game West Coast trip against the two teams with the best records in the majors and the second wild card leader in the American League probably gave manager Buck Showalter a restless night or two over this week’s respite. Knowing the Orioles play their next 23 games against clubs with winning records — not to mention the six following that against teams with .500 marks at the break — likely made him lose even more sleep.

Of course, Showalter and the Orioles have every right to feel good about themselves after winning 25 of their last 40 to move to 10 games above .500 and turn a 4 1/2-game deficit into a four-game lead over that stretch. They’ve built themselves a small cushion in a division in which no one is without sizable warts and imperfections with Toronto and New York seemingly moving in the wrong direction and Boston and Tampa Bay being mostly bad all season.

No, the trip to the West Coast will neither break nor make the Orioles’ chances of winning their first American League East title since 1997, but those 10 games allow them an opportunity to flex their muscles as a man amongst boys in an underwhelming division. Holding their own in Oakland, Anaheim, and Seattle — even going 5-5 — would not only keep the Orioles in first place but allow them to return home in late July in prime position to continue their quest to a second postseason appearance in the last three years.

A strong showing against the imposing AL West over the next couple weeks could be the difference between a relatively comfortable journey to October and needing to scratch and claw over the final two months of the regular season. In the same way that the Orioles took advantage of the recent struggles of the Blue Jays, the rest of the AL East will be rooting for Baltimore to wilt before finally returning to Camden Yards on July 29.

A starting rotation that’s pitched to a 3.18 ERA over its last 33 games will now face the two highest-scoring offenses in baseball over the next six contests. It was a 1-6 run against the Athletics and the Angels earlier this month that saw the Blue Jays’ one-game lead in the division turn into a 2 1/2-game deficit by the time they left the West Coast.

Even with the daunting stretch staring them in the face, the Orioles couldn’t ask for better timing as they’ll feel more rested now than they will at any point over the rest of the season. Aside from the current ankle injury to starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez — which many critics would deem a blessing anyway — the Orioles are as healthy as they’ve been at any point during the first half of the season.

Showalter has set up his rotation to include the 23-year-old Kevin Gausman — who could finally be with the Orioles for good — and will be looking for his starting pitchers to pick up where they left off to close the first half. And he’ll hope the inconsistent offense — currently ranked seventh in the AL in runs scored — will finally hit its stride and struggling first baseman Chris Davis starts looking more like the force he was a year ago and less like the .199 hitter who was lost at the plate for the first 3 1/2 months of the season.

By no means was it a perfect first half for the first-place Orioles as they lost catcher Matt Wieters for the season and saw their $50 million investment in Jimenez lead the majors in walks, but Baltimore was the least flawed of anyone in the division and still appears that way beginning the most difficult road trip of the season.

The Orioles can use these next 10 games to flex their muscles as the clear favorite in the division and solidify their first-place standing or could see themselves fall back with the rest of the imperfect pack in the AL East.

They’ve grown accustomed to being the hunter over the last three seasons; it will be interesting to see how they start the second half as the hunted after four days off to think about it.

By no means is it do or die, but the West Coast trip will be an opportunity for the Orioles to stake their claim as the overwhelming favorite in the division while sampling what they could see again in October.

 

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Jones, Cruz, Wieters named American League All-Star starters

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Jones, Cruz, Wieters named American League All-Star starters

Posted on 06 July 2014 by WNST Staff

2014 All-Star Game Starters Announced

Jose Bautista Finishes as Baseball’s Leading Vote-Getter for Second Time in Four Years After Edging Out Fellow A.L. Outfielder Mike Trout; Troy Tulowitzki Tallies Highest Vote Total Among National Leaguers; Derek Jeter Earns Ninth Starting Assignment in Final Midsummer Classic; Adam Jones Surpasses Yoenis Cespedes for Final A.L. Outfield Spot

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, Major League Baseball’s leading vote-getter for the second time in four seasons (also 2011), and Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who led the National League in voting, will be among the starters in the 85th All-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 15th at Target Field in Minnesota. The 2014 American League and National League All-Star Teams were unveiled earlier this evening during the “Taco Bell™ All-Star Selection Show” on ESPN.

Bautista, who finished with 5,859,019 votes, earns his fourth consecutive fan election and fifth All-Star selection overall. He is the 10th different A.L. outfielder in history to earn four straight fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson (four from 1972-75 and five from 1980-84); Dave Winfield (six from 1983-88); Rickey Henderson (four from 1985-88); and Kirby Puckett (four from 1992-95); as well as Ken Griffey, Jr. (10 from 1990-99); Manny Ramirez (eight from 1999-2006); Vladimir Guerrero (four from 2004-07); Ichiro Suzuki (four from 2001-04 and five from 2006-10); and Josh Hamilton (five from 2008-12). The Dominican Republic native, who also finished as the overall online vote leader, is the second player in Blue Jays franchise history to earn four fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar (1991-94). Bautista, the captain of the A.L. squad at the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby, has reached base safely in 77 of his 82 starts this season entering play on Sunday. He leads the A.L. with a .423 on-base percentage and 60 walks, is seventh with 56 runs scored, eighth with a .529 slugging percentage and tied for 10th with 17 home runs.

Tulowitzki, now an All-Star for the fourth time in his career, totaled 5,349,456 votes, which was the third-highest total in the Majors. After also earning the fan election in 2013, he becomes the first N.L. shortstop to receive back-to-back starting assignments since Hanley Ramirez (2008-10). In addition, Tulowitzki is just the third player in Rockies history to earn multiple fan elections, joining Larry Walker (1997-99) and former teammate Todd Helton (2001-03). Tulowitzki, who will serve as the N.L. captain during the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby, entered Sunday leading the Majors with a .350 batting average, .441 on-base percentage and 66 runs scored. In addition, he was second in the Majors with a .608 slugging percentage, second in the N.L. with 18 home runs, fourth with 172 total bases, fifth with a .343 batting average with runners in scoring position, tied for sixth with 29 multi-hit games and tied for eighth with 99 hits.

Tulowitzki’s A.L. counterpart will be New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who has now been elected to start by the fans nine times. Jeter, now a 14-time All-Star overall, garnered 3,928,422 votes to become the seventh player in A.L. history to earn at least nine fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. (17 with Baltimore), George Brett (11 with Kansas City) and Rod Carew (nine with Minnesota); as well as Griffey (10 with Seattle); teammate Suzuki (nine with Seattle); and Ivan Rodriguez (nine with Texas). Jeter, who entered play on Sunday eighth on the all-time hit list with 3,397 hits, is one of three players in Major League history with at least 3,000 hits, 250 home runs and 350 stolen bases, along with Craig Biggio and Hall of Famer Henderson. In his final season, the future Hall of Famer is hitting .266 with 21 RBI and 28 runs scored.

Bautista is joined in the A.L. outfield by Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles. Trout tallied 5,559,705 votes, good for the second-highest total overall in the Majors, while Jones received 2,817,419 as he pulled ahead of Yoenis Cespedes (2,744,074) of the Oakland Athletics in the final week of balloting. Trout, now a three-time All-Star, earns his second straight fan election to become the fifth player in Angels history to receive consecutive fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famers Carew (1979-84) and Jackson (1982-84), as well as Fred Lynn (1982-83) and Guerrero (2004-07). In 2013, Trout became the youngest A.L. position player to start a Midsummer Classic since Ivan Rodriguez in 1993. With his third All-Star selection, he becomes just the fourth A.L. outfielder in Major League history to receive three All-Star nods before his 23rd birthday, joining Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Al Kaline, as well as Griffey. For the second consecutive season, Trout has at least 15 home runs and at least 10 stolen bases before the All-Star break, joining his hitting coach Don Baylor (1978-79) as the only Angels to ever accomplish the feat in back-to-back seasons. Entering play today, Trout was batting .362 (51-for-141) over his last 36 games, and he had recorded 41 RBI over his last 46 contests. On the season, he ranks second in the A.L. with 48 extra-base hits, a .401 on-base percentage and a .606 slugging percentage, is third with 189 total bases, tied for third with 51 walks, fifth with five triples and 20 home runs, tied for fifth with 57 runs scored and tied for eighth with a .308 batting average.

Jones, selected to his fourth career Midsummer Classic, receives a starting assignment for the second consecutive season. He becomes the sixth player in Orioles history to earn multiple fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Frank Robinson (1970-71), Brooks Robinson (1971-74), Ripken (1984-87; 1989-2001) and Alomar (1996-98), as well as Boog Powell (1970-71). Jones is also the first O’s outfielder to garner consecutive fan elections since Frank Robinson and the first Orioles outfielder to make at least three consecutive All-Star squads since Robinson (1969-72). Jones, who hit .348 (39-for-112) with nine homers and 20 RBI in June, is batting .469 (15-for-32) over his nine-game hitting streak entering Sunday. He is second in the A.L. with 110 hits, tied for fifth with 32 multi-hit games and 180 total bases and seventh with a .309 batting average.

A trio of first-time starters fills the N.L. outfield, including reigning league Most Valuable PlayerAndrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who led the way with 4,519,440 votes. He is followed by Carlos Gomez (4,068,745) of the Milwaukee Brewers and Yasiel Puig (4,059,746) of the Los Angeles Dodgers. McCutchen, an All-Star for the fourth time, becomes the first Pirates player to win a fan election since outfielder Jason Bay in 2006. The 27-year-old McCutchen is also just the seventh player in Pirates history to garner a fan election, joining Bay, Barry Bonds (1992-93), Andy Van Slyke (1992-93), Dave Parker (1977-78, 1980-81), and Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente (1972) and Willie Stargell (1971-72). In addition, McCutchen is the first Pittsburgh player to be named an All-Star in four consecutive years since Clemente (1969-72). McCutchen, who has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games entering play on Sunday, led all Major League players with 20 extra-base hits during the month of June, and he was the first Pirates player with 20 extra-base hits in one month since Brian Giles in June 2001. Coming into the day, he ranked first in the N.L. with 56 walks, second with a .423 on-base percentage, third with a .322 batting average, 42 extra-base hits and 175 total bases, tied for third with 104 hits and 26 doubles, fourth with a .542 slugging percentage and a .351 batting average with runners in scoring position, tied for fourth with 53 RBI and tied for sixth with 29 multi-hit games.

Gomez, an All-Star for the second consecutive season, joins teammate Ryan Braun (2008-11) as the only Brewers outfielders in franchise history to land a fan-elected starting assignment. Gomez, who posted a career-best and Milwaukee season-high 18-game hitting streak in June, started play today third in the N.L. with a .358 batting average with runners in scoring position, ninth with a .511 slugging percentage, tied for ninth with 162 total bases and 14 stolen bases and tied for 10th with 52 runs scored.

Puig, in his second Major League season, gives the Dodgers a fan-elected outfielder in the Midsummer Classic for the fourth time in the last five years, following the elections of Andre Ethier (2010) and Matt Kemp (2011-12). The Cuban native, who is the N.L. starting squad’s only first-time All-Star, entered Sunday tied for second in the N.L. with 30 multi-hit games, sixth with 164 total bases, seventh with a .393 on-base percentage and a .516 slugging percentage, and eighth with a .337 batting average with runners in scoring position and a .308 batting average overall. He becomes just the fifth different Cuban player to win a fan election, joining Hall of Famer Tony Perez (1970), Tony Oliva (1971), Bert Campaneris (1973-75) and Jose Canseco (1988-90, 1992, 1999).

Reigning two-time A.L. Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers led A.L. first basemen with 4,377,749 votes en route to his eighth All-Star selection and second fan-elected start following his fan election at third base a year ago. The Venezuelan native becomes just the fifth player in Tigers history to earn multiple fan-elected starting assignments at the Midsummer Classic, joining catchers Bill Freehan (1970, 1972), Lance Parrish (1984-86), Ivan Rodriguez (2004, 2006-07) and second baseman Lou Whitaker (1984-86). In addition, the 2012 Triple Crown winner joins former teammate Prince Fielder (2012) as the only fan-elected starting first basemen in Tigers history. Cabrera also becomes the first Tigers position player to be selected to the All-Star Game in five consecutive seasons since Whitaker (1983-87). Over the last eight seasons, eight different A.L. first basemen have won a fan election, including David Ortiz (2007), Kevin Youkilis (2008), Mark Teixeira (2009), Justin Morneau (2010), Adrian Gonzalez (2011), Fielder (2012) and Chris Davis (2013). Entering play today, Cabrera led the A.L. with 32 doubles, ranked second with a .370 batting average with runners in scoring position, third with 46 extra-base hits, fourth with 67 RBI, sixth with a .311 batting average and a .540 slugging percentage, seventh with 174 total bases and ninth with 100 hits.

Joining Cabrera on the right side of the A.L. infield is Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, who will reunite with his former teammate Jeter up the middle. Cano, in his first season with Seattle, tallied 3,237,735 votes to secure his sixth All-Star selection and fifth consecutive fan election. He joins Hall of Famers Carew (six straight, 1970-75) and Alomar (five straight, 1996-2000) as the only second basemen in A.L. history to earn five straight fan elections. In addition, Cano joins Bret Boone (2001) as the only fan-elected starting second basemen in Mariners history, and he is just the fourth Seattle infielder overall to receive an election from the fans, joining Boone, John Olerud (1B, 2001) and former teammate Alex Rodriguez (SS, 1997-98; 2000). Cano entered play today leading the A.L. with a .373 batting average with runners in scoring position, tied for third with 33 multi-hit games, fourth with a .323 batting average overall, sixth with 104 hits and tied for sixth with a .383 on-base percentage. Since May 9th, Cano is batting .348 (65-for-187) with 31 runs scored, 14 doubles, five home runs and 32 RBI.

Rounding out the A.L. infield is Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson, who is the A.L. starting squad’s lone first-time All-Star. Donaldson received 3,684,820 votes to give the A’s, who entered play today with the best record in the Majors at 54-33 (.621), their first fan-elected starter since first baseman Jason Giambi in 2000. Donaldson becomes the first Oakland third baseman in team history to earn a fan-elected start, and he is the fifth different A.L. third baseman to win a fan election in the last five years, joining Evan Longoria (2010), Rodriguez (2011), Adrian Beltre (2012) and Cabrera (2013). Entering Sunday, Donaldson was third in the A.L. with 58 runs scored, sixth with 62 RBI and is tied for sixth with 19 home runs.

Joining Tulowitzki on the left side of the N.L. infield is Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who garnered 2,318,611 votes to produce his third All-Star selection and first fan-elected starting assignment. Ramirez becomes the first Brewer to win a starting job at the hot corner, and he joins second basemen Don Money (1978), Hall of Famer Paul Molitor (1980, 1988) and teammate Rickie Weeks (2011), as well as Hall of Fame shortstop Robin Yount (1982-83) and first baseman Fielder (2007, 2011) as the only infielders in Brewers history to win an election. The 36-year-old native of the Dominican Republic entered Sunday batting .286 with 11 home runs and 41 RBI on the season. Among N.L. third basemen, he was tied for fourth in home runs and tied for fifth in RBI.

On the right side of the N.L. infield, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, now a two-time All-Star and fan-elected starter for the first time, joins veteran second baseman Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies, who makes his sixth trip to the Midsummer Classic, all of which have come via a fan election. Goldschmidt received 3,516,890 votes en route to becoming the first D-backs first baseman, and just the fourth player in franchise history, to earn a fan election. The other three to do so were second baseman Jay Bell (1999), third baseman Matt Williams (1999) and outfielder Luis Gonzalez (2001). Goldschmidt started play today leading the N.L. with 32 doubles and 48 extra-base hits, ranked second with 63 runs scored and 181 total bases, tied for second with 30 multi-hit games, third with 56 RBI and a .544 slugging percentage, tied for third with 50 walks, sixth with 102 hits and a .395 on-base percentage and tied for eighth with 15 home runs.

Utley, who won fan elections in each season from 2006-10, tallied 2,866,529 total votes. His six fan elections trail only Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt (9) for the most in Phillies history. Te only other N.L. second basemen to draw more All-Star starts are Utley’s manager Ryne Sandberg (9) and fellow Hall of Famer Joe Morgan (7). Utley began play on Sunday batting .287 on the season with six home runs, 40 RBI, 24 doubles and 46 runs scored. Utley, who picked up his 1,500th career hit last Sunday against Atlanta, leads all N.L. second basemen in doubles and extra-base hits (33).

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina received 3,842,434 votes to secure his sixth All-Star selection along with his fourth career and second consecutive fan-elected start. He joins Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith (12) and former teammate Albert Pujols (5) as the only players in Cardinals history to receive at least four fan-elected starting assignments. Molina has thrown out 17 of 34 runners attempting to steal this season for a N.L.-best .500 percentage. At the plate, the Puerto Rican native is batting .294 with seven home runs, 30 RBI, 15 doubles and 30 runs scored. With Molina’s election, the Cardinals have now had at least one player elected to start in each of the last six seasons (since 2009), marking the longest active streak in the N.L.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters and designated hitter Nelson Cruz round out the starting A.L. squad, giving Baltimore a trio of fan-elected starters (along with Jones) for the second consecutive season (Davis, J.J. Hardy and Jones in 2013). It marks the first time since 1997 (Alomar, Ripken and Brady Anderson) and 1998 (Alomar, Ripken) that the O’s have had multiple fan-elected starters in back-to-backs seasons. Wieters collected 2,701,310 votes en route to his third All-Star selection and first fan-elected starting assignment. He becomes just the second Orioles backstop in franchise history to win a fan election, joining Terry Kennedy (1987). Wieters, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in June, batted .308 with five home runs and 18 RBI over 26 games played. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by the A.L. catcher elected to the All-Star Team via the Player Ballot.

Cruz received 3,942,138 votes to secure his third All-Star selection and first career fan-elected starting assignment. He becomes just the fifth different fan-elected starter at designated hitter in history, joining Edgar Martinez (1997, 2001, 2003), Canseco (1999), Ortiz (2005, 2008, 2011-13) and Guerrero (2010). Cruz entered play today tied for first in the Majors with 27 home runs and 70 RBI. His 27 home runs are currently third in Orioles franchise history before the All-Star break, trailing teammate Davis (37 in 2013) and Anderson (30 in 1996). Cruz also ranks second in the A.L. with 191 total bases, and fifth with a .581 slugging percentage and 43 extra-base hits.

With seven different N.L. teams represented among its eight starters (only Milwaukee has two), this marks the eighth time since fan balloting began in 1970 that the N.L. has as many as seven different teams represented among the starting position players. The other years in which it occurred include 1971, 1984, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2010. The N.L. has never had eight different teams represented among the eight positional leaders. With four different teams represented in the A.L. infield, the 85th All-Star Game will mark the first time since 2003, and the 19th time overall since fan balloting began in 1970, that the four A.L. fan-elected starting infielders come from four different teams.

There are eight foreign-born players among the 17 fan-elected starters, marking the third consecutive season that at least eight foreign-born players received a fan election. Last year, eight foreign-born players also won fan elections after nine received the honor in 2012.

MLB’s All-Star Balloting Program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots were distributed at the 30 Major League ballparks, each of which had 25 dates for balloting, and in approximately 100 Minor League ballparks. After the in-stadium phase of balloting concluded on Thursday, June 26th, fans still had the opportunity to cast their votes for starters exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 Club Web sites and their mobile devices until Thursday, July 3rd at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

Firestone, the official tire of MLB, was once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2014 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot featured an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events, and VIP on-field access to watch batting practice before the All-Star Game with an MLB legend.

The American League All-Star Team has nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the National League All-Star Team has eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. – were determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – A.L. skipper John Farrell of the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox and N.L. manager Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Fans can now begin to vote to select the final player for each League’s 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over a five-day period and the winners will be announced after the voting concludes on Thursday, July 10th. Now in its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile phones.

The final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 Club sites via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15th. The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

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Cruz maintains lead, Derek Norris closing on Wieters in AL All-Star voting

Posted on 22 June 2014 by WNST Staff

Cespedes, Norris vying to join A’s teammate Donaldson among American League leaders in latest balloting update for 85th All-Star Game

Jeter Holding Off Ramirez in Bid to Start His Final Midsummer Classic; Four Different Teams Represented Among Leading Infielders

 

Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and catcher Derek Norris of the Oakland Athletics continue to climb the American League rankings in fan balloting for the 85th All-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 15th at Target Field in Minnesota. The latest A.L. results were announced earlier this evening on ESPN as part of its “Baseball Tonight” telecast. The next National League balloting results will be announced at 7:30 p.m. (ET) tomorrow night after local rightsholder broadcasts announce the leaders.

Cespedes and Norris, two players who have filled pivotal roles in leading Oakland to the best record in the Majors at 47-28 (.627), are aiming to join their teammate Josh Donaldson among the A.L. leaders. The Athletics have not had a fan-elected starter since Jason Giambi earned a fan election at first base for the 2000 Midsummer Classic in Atlanta. In addition, Oakland has not featured multiple fan-elected starters since 1992, when first baseman Mark McGwire and outfielder Jose Canseco earned starting assignments. The Athletics have had at least three fan elections in a single season on five occasions since fan balloting began in 1970, including 1975 (Bert Campaneris, Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Gene Tenace); 1988 (Canseco, McGwire, Terry Steinbach); 1989 (Canseco, McGwire, Steinbach); 1990 (Canseco, McGwire, Rickey Henderson); and 1991 (Dave Henderson, R. Henderson, McGwire).

Cespedes has received 1,511,838 votes, which ranks fourth among A.L. outfielders behind leaders Jose Bautista (3,665,208) of the Toronto Blue Jays, Mike Trout (3,286,511) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Melky Cabrera (1,674,232) of the Blue Jays. Cespedes, who won the 2013 Home Run Derby at Citi Field, is attempting to make his first All-Star Game. The Cuban native is batting .325 (25-for-77) in June and has seven home runs and 27 RBI over his last 32 games. Entering Sunday, he was tied for sixth in the A.L. with 36 extra-base hits and three triples, tied for eighth with 49 RBI, ranks 10th with a .509 slugging percentage and is tied for 10th with 19 doubles. In addition, the 28-year-old leads the Majors with nine outfield assists on the season, including eight over his last 23 games in the outfield. Three-time All-Star Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles remains close behind Cespedes in fifth with 1,490,000 votes, while Michael Brantley (1,284,901) of the Cleveland Indians, 2011 All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury (1,264,746) of the New York Yankees, Nick Markakis (1,170,304) of the Orioles and eight-time All-Star Carlos Beltran (1,081,686) of the Yankees are all within striking distance.

Norris, also bidding for his first All-Star appearance, surpassed Brian McCann (1,344,076) of the Yankees for second place among A.L. catchers. The 25-year-old backstop, in his third Major League season, trails Baltimore’s Matt Wieters (1,852,770) by less than 400,000 votes. Wieters, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery last week, batted .308 with five home runs and 18 RBI over 26 games played. Wieters, a two-time All-Star would join Terry Kennedy (1987) as the only catchers in Orioles history to earn a fan election, while Norris would join Steinbach (1987-88) as the only catchers in Athletics history to accomplish the feat. Norris, who is batting .342 (13-for-38) in June, entered play on Sunday tied for first among A.L. catchers on the season with eight home runs and 34 RBI, and ranks second with a .301 batting average. His 34 RBI have already matched his career-best set in 2012 and his eight home runs are one shy of his career-high of nine hit in 2013.

Donaldson, who has hit safely in six of his last seven games, is in line for his first All-Star selection. He has accumulated 2,436,771 votes to hold a comfortable lead over three-time All-Star Adrian Beltre (1,346,957) of the Texas Rangers. Donaldson, who finished fourth in A.L. Most Valuable Player voting in 2013, would become the first Oakland third baseman to earn a fan-elected start. He entered Sunday second in the A.L. with 55 runs scored, is tied for second with 15 go-ahead RBI, tied for fourth with 55 RBI, fifth with 18 home runs, tied for ninth with 142 total bases and tied for 10th with 31 extra-base hits.

Bautista, who remains the A.L.’s top vote-getter, is seeking his fifth All-Star selection and fourth consecutive fan election. The Dominican Republic native, who also led the Majors in fan balloting in 2011 (7,454,753), could become the 10th different A.L. outfielder in history to earn four consecutive fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Jackson (four from 1972-75 and five from 1980-84); Dave Winfield (six from 1983-88); Henderson (four from 1985-88); and Kirby Puckett (four from 1992-95); as well as Ken Griffey, Jr. (10 from 1990-99); Manny Ramirez (eight from 1999-2006); Vladimir Guerrero (four from 2004-07); Ichiro Suzuki (four from 2001-04 and five from 2006-10); and Josh Hamilton (five from 2008-12). Bautista would also become the second player in franchise history to earn four fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar (1991-94). Entering play today, Bautista has reached base safely in 71 of his 76 games played this season, and leads the A.L. with a .432 on-base percentage and 59 walks, ranks third with 54 runs scored, seventh with a .524 slugging percentage, tied for eighth with 49 RBI, tied for ninth with 142 total bases, 10th with a .303 batting average and tied for 10th with 15 home runs.

Trout, who has the league’s second-highest balloting total, has reached base safely in 37 of his last 39 games and has 33 RBI in his last 33 contests. Trout has played in 405 career games and is the first player in Major League history to record at least 300 runs scored, 75 home runs and 75 stolen bases in his first 400 career games played. The two-time All-Star, who was a fan-elected starter in 2013, is bidding to become the fifth player in Angels history to earn consecutive fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famers Rod Carew (1979-84) and Jackson (1982-84), as well as Fred Lynn (1982-83) and Guerrero (2004-07). At 21 years old last year, Trout became the youngest A.L. position player to start a Midsummer Classic since Ivan Rodriguez in 1993. Over his last 24 games, Trout is batting .393 batting average (35-for-89). On the season, he ranks fourth in the A.L. with a .595 slugging percentage and 157 total bases, seventh with 54 RBI and tied for seventh with 16 home runs.

Cabrera, who represented the N.L. at the 2012 Midsummer Classic in Kansas City, ranks second in the Majors with 94 hits on the season and he is tied for sixth in the A.L. with 26 multi-hit games. He is aiming to become the fourth different Blue Jays outfielder in history to receive a fan election, joining Bautista, Joe Carter (1993-94) and George Bell (1987). Along with Bautista, the teammates are trying to become the first pair of Blue Jays to start a Midsummer Classic since 1994, when Alomar and Carter were elected to start by the fans. In addition, they would become the first pair of teammates to start in the A.L. outfield since Boston’s Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez in 2005, and it would mark the 17th All-Star Game in history to feature starting teammates in the A.L. outfield. Cabrera also ranks among A.L. leaders with five outfield assists (T-5th), 149 total bases (T-5th) and 47 runs scored (8th).

Thirteen-time American League All-Star Derek Jeter of the Yankees, bidding for his ninth career fan election, has totaled 2,353,336 votes to remain ahead of Alexei Ramirez (1,933,117) of the Chicago White Sox. Jeter, who is hitting .271 with 16 RBI and 24 runs scored in his final season, would become the seventh player in A.L. history to earn at least nine fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. (17 with Baltimore), George Brett (11 with Kansas City) and Carew (nine with Minnesota); as well as Griffey (10 with Seattle); teammate Suzuki (nine with Seattle); and Ivan Rodriguez (nine with Texas). Over his last 11 games, Jeter is batting .356 (16-for-45) with three doubles, four RBI, seven runs scored and a .388 on-base percentage. Jeter, who ranks eighth on the all-time hit list with 3,385 hits, is one of three players in Major League history with at least 3,000 hits, 250 home runs and 350 stolen bases, along with Craig Biggio and Hall of Famer Henderson. Ramirez, who is attempting to become the first White Sox shortstop to make the All-Star Game since Ozzie Guillen in 1991, is tied for the A.L. lead with 26 multi-hit games, is tied for fifth with 84 hits and ranks eighth with a .311 batting average.

Forming a familiar tandem, Jeter is joined up the middle of the infield by second baseman and former teammate Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners. Cano, a five-time All-Star, who has been elected the starting second baseman in each of the last four years, has received 2,007,055 votes as he remains in front of three-time All-Star Ian Kinsler (1,338,272) of the Detroit Tigers and four-time All-Star Dustin Pedroia (1,264,329) of the Boston Red Sox. Over his last 31 games, Cano is batting .373 (44-for-118) with three home runs, 20 RBI, eight doubles and 19 runs scored. The stretch has propelled Cano to a .332 batting average, which ranks second in the A.L. on the season. With a fan election this year, he would become the third second baseman in A.L. history to earn five consecutive fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famers Carew (six straight, 1970-75) and Alomar (five straight, 1996-2000). In addition, Cano would join Bret Boone (2001) as the only fan-elected starting second basemen in Mariners history, and he could become just the fourth Seattle infielder to receive an election from the fans, joining Boone, John Olerud (1B, 2001) and Alex Rodriguez (SS, 1997-98; 2000). Cano is tied for second in the A.L. with 28 multi-hit games, ranks third with a .392 on-base percentage and is tied for third with 91 hits.

Joining Cano on the right side of the infield is Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who has garnered 2,645,000 votes to remain ahead of White Sox rookie Jose Abreu (1,420,294). Cabrera, an eight-time All-Star, leads the A.L. with a .403 batting average with runners in scoring position and 26 doubles, while he is third with 58 RBI and 38 extra-base hits, tied for fifth with a .320 batting average and 149 total bases, and sixth with a .548 slugging percentage. The reigning two-time A.L. Most Valuable Player is seeking his second fan election after earning his first career fan-elected start in 2013 as a third baseman. He would become just the fifth player in Tigers history to earn multiple fan-elected starting assignments at the Midsummer Classic, joining catchers Bill Freehan (1970, 1972), Lance Parrish (1984-86), Rodriguez (2004, 2006-07) and second baseman Lou Whitaker (1984-86). In addition, the 2012 Triple Crown winner would join former teammate Prince Fielder as the only fan-elected starting first basemen in Tigers history.

Designated hitter Nelson Cruz, aiming for his first fan-elected starting assignment, has received 2,457,349 as he continues to hold off Boston’s David Ortiz (1,652,470), a nine-time All-Star who has earned each of the last three fan elections at designated hitter. Cruz, a two-time All-Star, is tied for first in the Majors with 23 home runs and ranks second with 60 RBI. He would become just the fifth different fan-elected starter at the position, joining Edgar Martinez (1997, 2001, 2003), Jose Canseco (1999), Ortiz (2005, 2008, 2011-13) and Guerrero (2010). Along with Wieters, who currently leads at catcher, the duo would give the Orioles multiple fan elections in consecutive years (Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones in 2013) for the first time since 1997 (Alomar, Ripken, Brady Anderson) and 1998 (Alomar, Ripken).

With four different teams currently represented in the A.L. infield, the 85th All-Star Game could mark the first time since 2003, and the 19th time overall since fan balloting began in 1970, that the four A.L. fan-elected starting infielders come from four different teams.

MLB’s All-Star Balloting Program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. The last two years represent the two highest totals in balloting history, including a record 40.2 million ballots cast in 2012. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at MLB’s 30 ballparks, each of which will have 23 dates for balloting.

In addition, fans around the world can cast their votes for starters 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 Club web sites – online or via their mobile devices – with the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian. The All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian is available in English and Spanish, and offers audio CAPTCHA functionality for visually-impaired fans. Banco BHD sponsors online All-Star balloting in the Dominican Republic, making Spanish-language ballots available to fans in the Dominican Republic via LasMayores.com, the official Spanish-language Web site of Major League Baseball.

Every Major League Club began its in-stadium balloting no later than May 12th. When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes no later than June 26th, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 Club Web sites and their mobile devices until Thursday, July 3rd at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

Firestone, the official tire of MLB, is once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2014 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events, and VIP on-field access to watch batting practice before the All-Star Game with an MLB legend.

For the sixth consecutive year, the ballot features the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans have the opportunity to select three players in each League who they would most like to see participate in the Gillette Home Run Derby. The Fan Poll is also available online at MLB.com. The 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8:00 p.m. (ET)/7:00 p.m. (CT) on Monday, July 14th. The 10 American League candidates are Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays; Carlos Beltran of the New York Yankees; Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers; Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners; 2013 Home Run Derby Champion Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics; Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles; Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers; All-Star Ambassador Joe Mauer of the Twins; David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox; and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The 10 National League candidates are Pedro Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates; Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds; Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks; Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals; Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves; Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants; Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers; Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins; Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies; and David Wright of the New York Mets.

The 2014 American League and National League All-Star Teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5th-6th, with further details to follow. The A.L. All-Star Team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the N.L. All-Star Team will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. – will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – N.L. skipper Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals and A.L. manager John Farrell of the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.

Immediately following the announcement of the American League and National League All-Star rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each League’s 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over the balloting period. Now in its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile phones.

This year’s final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 Club sites via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15th. The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

AMERICAN LEAGUE ALL-STAR VOTE LEADERS

FIRST BASE
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers — 2,645,000
Jose Abreu, White Sox — 1,420,294
Chris Davis, Orioles — 1,087,112
Albert Pujols, Angels — 1,040,316
Mark Teixeira, Yankees — 718,367

SECOND BASE
Robinson Cano, Mariners — 2,007,055
Ian Kinsler, Tigers — 1,338,272
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox — 1,264,329
Jose Altuve, Astros — 932,978
Brian Dozier, Twins — 841,980

SHORTSTOP
Derek Jeter, Yankees — 2,353,336
Alexei Ramirez, White Sox — 1,933,117
J.J. Hardy, Orioles — 1,259,268
Jose Reyes, Blue Jays — 871,633
Jed Lowrie, Athletics — 629,686

THIRD BASE
Josh Donaldson, Athletics — 2,436,771
Adrian Beltre, Rangers — 1,346,957
Manny Machado, Orioles — 1,182,098
Evan Longoria, Rays — 1,118,453
Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays — 758,043

CATCHER
Matt Wieters, Orioles — 1,852,770
Derek Norris, Athletics — 1,486,850
Brian McCann, Yankees — 1,344,076
Kurt Suzuki, Twins — 812,865
A.J. Pierzynski, Red Sox — 810,050

DESIGNATED HITTER
Nelson Cruz, Orioles — 2,457,349
David Ortiz, Red Sox — 1,652,470
Victor Martinez, Tigers — 1,418,509
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays — 1,276,851
Brandon Moss, Athletics — 796,159

OUTFIELD
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays — 3,665,208
Mike Trout, Angels — 3,286,511
Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays — 1,674,232
Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics — 1,511,838
Adam Jones, Orioles — 1,490,000
Michael Brantley, Indians — 1,284,901
Jacoby Ellsbury, Yankees — 1,264,746
Nick Markakis, Orioles — 1,170,304
Carlos Beltran, Yankees — 1,081,686
Torii Hunter, Tigers — 989,715
Coco Crisp, Athletics — 748,013
Alex Rios, Rangers — 742,780
Brett Gardner, Yankees — 737,736
Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers — 699,751
Josh Hamilton, Angels — 696,991

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Wieters to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery

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Wieters to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery

Posted on 16 June 2014 by Luke Jones

What was feared for more than a month became official Monday as the Orioles announced All-Star catcher Matt Wieters will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the 2014 season.

The club said Monday that the estimated recovery period will be nine months, which would put him on track to start the 2015 season on time. Renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews will perform the ulnar collateral reconstruction surgery on Wieters’ right elbow on Tuesday afternoon after the 28-year-old catcher had his follow-up appointment on Monday.

The recovery time for Tommy John surgery isn’t as long for a position player as it is for a pitcher, but there haven’t been a great number of catchers to undergo the surgical procedure at the major league level. Sports injury expert Will Carroll of Bleacher Report believes it will be difficult to expect Wieters to be ready to catch by the start of next season.

“Normally, we see that it’s nine to 12 months, 10 to 12 months for a pitcher,” Carroll said on AM 1570 WNST Monday morning. “For position players, we say six to eight [months], but even that’s a little aggressive, especially with a catcher who has to make certainly not as many throws as a pitcher but long throws, off-balance throws.

“I’ve talked to some doctors and they say, ‘Honestly, treat him like a pitcher.’ I think it’s a little less than that. I would say you’re looking at nine or 10 months, maybe as many as 12. Opening Day is going to be really tight, even on the low end.”

Though the news was not unexpected after manager Buck Showalter revealed last week that Wieters was not progressing as quickly as he’d hoped in his throwing program, the loss of one of the best catchers in baseball is a major blow for the Orioles, who have leaned on the trio of Caleb Joseph, Nick Hundley, and Steve Clevenger in Wieters’ absence. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 11 and hadn’t caught in a game since May 4.

Wieters was leading American League All-Star voting at the catcher position and was off to arguably the best offensive start of his career, hitting .308 with five home runs and 18 runs batted in in 104 at-bats. However, the two-time Gold Glove winner’s elbow discomfort was apparent in his work behind the plate as he was only 1-for-12 throwing out runners attempting to steal, down from his career mark of 33 percent.

Joseph has been praised for his defensive work as Orioles pitchers sport a 2.85 ERA when he’s catching, but the rookie is hitting only .130 in 54 at-bats while Hundley, acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres late last month, is batting just .147. Clevenger was hitting .243 at the time of his late-May demotion and has been red hot at the plate at Triple-A Norfolk ever since, but the Orioles weren’t thrilled with his work behind the dish.

Baltimore has pitched to a 4.92 ERA with Hundley catching and 4.85 when Clevenger was back there earlier in the season. For what it’s worth, Orioles pitchers sported a 3.88 ERA when Wieters was behind the plate this season.

“We’ve got some things to pick from. That’s really been a challenge for us in the last few years,” Showalter said on Friday. “We always said, ‘What if Matt [gets hurt]? What are we going to do?’ Well, here we are. I hope that we get some good news on Monday, but you better prepare like you’re not.”

Wieters is eligible to become a free agent after the 2015 season.

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Orioles hoping for best, bracing for worst with Wieters’ follow-up appointment

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Orioles hoping for best, bracing for worst with Wieters’ follow-up appointment

Posted on 13 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Matt Wieters is scheduled to make his follow-up visit to Dr. James Andrews on Monday while the Orioles hope for the best and prepare for the worst regarding their injured catcher.

On the 15-day disabled list with right elbow soreness since May 11, Wieters hasn’t progressed as well as he’d hoped since beginning a throwing program two weeks ago and faces the prospects of needing season-ending surgery to correct the problem. The Orioles have laid out July 1 as the deadline for Wieters to go under the knife without missing any time at the start of the 2015 season with a normal rehabilitation scheduled.

Manager Buck Showalter wasn’t about to reveal his gut feeling about how Wieters’ appointment will go with the renowned orthopedic surgeon but didn’t paint a rosy picture about the two-time All-Star catcher’s status for the rest of the 2014 season.

“It’s another one of those where I know a little more than I’m going to talk about,” Showalter said. “I don’t want to say something that’s not honest. He’s still got a chance. I think we’re all curious to see what Dr. Andrews is going to say. We’ve got it set up both ways. He’ll [either] be returning to us and get right back into his program or we can proceed with the other option, which I have trouble saying out loud. There’s only really two options here.”

In Wieters’ absence, the Orioles have used the trio of Nick Hundley, Caleb Joseph, and Steve Clevenger behind the plate. Acquired from the San Diego Padres on May 24, Hundley initially looked like he’d be the starting catcher for the foreseeable future, but Joseph made his fourth start in the club’s last five games on Friday night.

Clevenger has hit .455 in 44 at-bats since being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, but his less-than-stellar defense was a deciding factor behind his demotion.

Showalter was amused when asked by a reporter if he was satisfied with his current options behind the plate should Wieters’ appointment bring bad news from Gulf Breeze, Fla. on Monday.

“What am I supposed to say, no?” Showalter said. “‘By God, Dan [Duquette] better go get an All-Star catcher right away just like Matt.’ I am [comfortable]. I think they’ve done a good job all things considered. We’ve tried real hard to create some depth here catching.

“We’ve got some things to pick from. That’s really been a challenge for us in the last few years. We always said, ‘What if Matt [gets hurt]? What are we going to do?’ Well, here we are. I hope that we get some good news on Monday, but you better prepare like you’re not.”

Machado appeal date not imminent

Showalter and the Orioles know the date that third baseman Manny Machado’s appeal will be heard on a five-game suspension stemming from the bat-throwing incident against the Oakland Athletics, but the organization is not commenting.

The manager only said that it isn’t imminent and that the 21-year-old will be available for the remainder of the weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Many have speculated that Machado’s appeal could be heard when the Orioles arrive in the Bronx to take on the New York Yankees next weekend, but that’s not a guarantee.

The club will need to add a backup infielder to the mix when Machado’s suspension begins with the assumption that Ryan Flaherty will handle third-base duties. This means Showalter will only have 11 pitchers at his disposal with Machado still counting against the 25-man roster while he serves his penalty.

“It’s not like you can pick the date and take the suspension,” Showalter said. “‘OK, he’s suspended and we’ll take it in September.’ You can’t do that. That’s not the way it’s designed. Once they render a decision, it’s right away. If you look at the precedent for situations like this, we feel like and Manny feels like [five games is a] little strong.”

Rotation still not set for Tampa Bay series

Lefty Wei-Yin Chen will pitch the series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, but Showalter wasn’t prepared to name his starters for Games 2 and 3 on Friday afternoon.

“I think after [Friday night], I’ll be able to give you [scheduled starters for] Tuesday and Wednesday,” said Showalter. “No, probably [Saturday].”

Many are clamoring for both Kevin Gausman and Miguel Gonzalez — who is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Sunday — to remain in the rotation while questioning the status of Ubaldo Jimenez, who entered his Friday start with a 5.01 ERA in 13 outings this season. Of course, the $50 million investment the Orioles made in him this offseason provides a longer leash, but a club aiming to win now may want to consider a temporary shift to the bullpen or a trip to the disabled list for the struggling right-hander if his fortunes don’t improve quickly.

Tough day for knuckleballers

Norfolk knuckleball pitcher Eddie Gamboa was suspended for 50 games on Friday for testing positive for exogenous testosterone. His suspension begins immediately after he began the season 4-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 14 games (12 starts).

“I know some people are going to make comments about a knuckleball guy and the connection with whatever,” Showalter said. “They’re missing the point on why. Obviously, I know a lot more about why and looking into it. He was on the radar here, so it’s unfortunate.”

Another converted knuckleball pitcher in the organization received bad news on Friday as UMBC product Zach Clark was released.

 

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Machado 6-7

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Orioles Have Issues

Posted on 09 June 2014 by Tom Federline

A little over one-third of the way in and this current Oriole team is no playoff contender. At this stage in the game, it does not even look like either of the two wild cards are going to come out of the east division. Don’t get me started on the TWO (2) wild card teams and one game winner-take all scenario. That is bogus! For future (and from a past) blog – I say 142 game season (players salaries adjusted/decreased), season is from mid-April to mid-September, 3 division winners/ 1 wild card, 3 out of 5 Division series, 3 out of 5 Championship series, 4 out of 7 World Series. Season over by 2nd week of October. Ok enough, had to get that out there. Bottom line – O’s at current rate there will be no October ball anyway.

Oriole Issues - challenged starting pitching, questionable middle relief, no closer threat (yet), minimal clutch hitting, to many men left on base, increased errors, no catcher and lack of team discipline. All that and they are in second place of the American League East with a 31 – 30 record. To put in perspective -that is the 7th best record out of 15 teams in the American League and 14th out of 30, in both leagues. It is amazing they have been able to hold on as long as they have, considering the inflated pitching ERA and loss of their major signal caller and part backbone of the team (Wieters).

I see a team not focused. Next time you’re at the Yards, check out the dugout, during and in between innings. Buck-Buck does NOT have a handle on the boys. There should be a rule – ‘No one goes down the tunnel unless you are due up and require warm-ups for your at-bat. No buffet snacking during game. No video games. Just stay out of the tunnel and all it’s amenities.” Watch game, with teammates, on bench. That should not be tough requirement for the over-paid, spoiled, self-indulged roster players. Buck-Buck should remind them of their hourly rate.

I see a major bust in Jimenez. BTW – nice move Orioles magazine editor – putting Ubaldo-more on the cover of the first Oriole magazine this year. See blog from Opening Day – “Play Ball”.  One, maybe two decent games? He’s 2 -7 with a 5.01 ERA. Yeah, there’s a #2 starter for ya. “O” wait-a-minute, that’s right the weather has to warm up in order for him to perform at a comfortable level. Hmmm – seemed pretty warm to me for about a month now.

I saw a youngster breakdown and act his age this past weekend. Well, actually the over-paid, spoiled, self-indulged “star-in-the-making” acted more like a 10 year old. Team discipline? Manny-O-Manny, did you need your Mommy this weekend? Over -reaction on Friday night. Whined all weekend. Lackluster performance on his Bobblehead night annnnnnnnnd thennnnnnnn, yesterdays throwing of the bat. Fine him, suspend him, send him to his room with no snack before bed time. Maybe he was just miffed that they used a JJ Hardy look-a-like bobblehead instead of using the picture of himself he has hanging above his bed as the model.

Whatever the case, Machado still has some growing up to do. Ok, he’s still young, he will be 22 in July. Nope, not buying that one either. He needs a mentor. He needs a taste of Humble Pie.  He needs a butt kicking. He also needs to be put in the 6th hole and out of the #2 spot. He’s an inning killer. In particular, the first inning. Markakis is rolling at that top spot and it’s getting wasted. This is a case for Buck-Buck, Jones or Markakis to take control in the clubhouse. Actually, it’s a job for his parental units. Enough of that embarrassing situation.

The team appears in disarray at the moment. The boys holding this thing together are: Markakis, Jones, Cruuuuuz (until they pop him for juicy juice again) and Hardy. Pitching: Thank you Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris and Zach Britton – saving graces. Wieters being out – hurts offensively and defensively. The captain on the field is out and it shows. If the Orioles stay at current pace, it’s going to be a frustrating year. It’s time for Buck-Buck to “Whip It” – Devo. And whip it good! Get the boys back on track. How about one step at a time – just beat the Bosox!

D.I.Y.

Fedman

 

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Wieters to see Dr. Andrews next week after slow progress with elbow

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Wieters to see Dr. Andrews next week after slow progress with elbow

Posted on 09 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With Monday’s discussion centering around a potential suspension for third baseman Manny Machado, the Orioles received not-so-encouraging news regarding the future of catcher Matt Wieters.

Manager Buck Showalter confirmed the 28-year-old is expected to see renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews for a follow-up appointment next Monday to reevaluate the status of his sore right elbow. Wieters began a throwing progression on May 30 but is still experiencing discomfort in his elbow, which could result in him electing to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.

“He probably hasn’t as progressed as quickly as Matt had hoped it would, but it hasn’t been any setback or anything,” Showalter said. “I think he just wants to get from Dr. Andrews where he thinks he is and let him see it again. It wasn’t per se scheduled, but I think it’s something Matt would like to do just to make sure that he agrees with where he is and the way we’re proceeding.”

Wieters completed his latest throwing session on Monday, which was one of his best since he was cleared to throw. The Orioles have discussed July 1 as the point when a decision would need to be made about undergoing surgery to make sure the two-time All-Star catcher would be ready for the start of the 2015 season, the final year he is under team control before hitting free agency.

The Orioles placed Wieters on the 15-day disabled list on May 11 and hasn’t caught in a game since May 4. The trio of Caleb Joseph, Steve Clevenger, and the recently-acquired Nick Hundley have filled in behind the plate in Wieters’ absence.

“I’m still holding out hope that we get something accomplished and Dr. Andrews says, ‘This is so; let’s continue down this path,’” Showalter said. “It’s a date that would allow him to start the season next year. That’s really what it is. It doesn’t mean that he can’t continue down this road and not start the season on time next year. That’s a decision that he’s going to make, and we’re going to be supportive of it regardless.”

Wieters leads American League All-Star voting at the catcher position and was off to arguably the best offensive start of his career, hitting .308 with five home runs and 18 runs batted in.

Showalter remained optimistic on Monday, but the continued presence of pain is not a good sign as Wieters and the Orioles try to decide how to proceed. The Baltimore manager expected Wieters to continue his program of throwing every other day until his appointment with Dr. Andrews next Monday.

“He still has some discomfort, but nothing like he had,” Showalter said. “Matt was hoping it would have progressed a little more at this point. I think he wants to get Dr. Andrews’ opinion, and Dr. Andrews thinks that’s a good idea. He’s just going to go in and what they come out of that appointment with, let’s put it this way, I hope I see him [next] Tuesday.”

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Cruz, Wieters continue to lead All-Star voting at respective positions

Posted on 08 June 2014 by WNST Staff

Bautista takes overall American League lead in latest balloting update for 85th All-Star Game

Jeter, Ramirez in tight battle for start at shortstop; Bautista followed by Trout, Miguel Cabrera for overall league lead 

Toronto Blue Jays four-time All-Star Jose Bautista, who was Major League Baseball’s leading vote-getter for the 2011 All-Star Game in Arizona, has surpassed Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Mike Trout for the overall American League lead in the third balloting update for the 85thAll-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 15th at Target Field in Minnesota. The latest A.L. results were announced earlier this evening on ESPN as part of its “Baseball Tonight” telecast. The third National League balloting results will be announced at 7:30 p.m. (ET) tomorrow night via press release and local rightsholder broadcasts.

Bautista, who has been a fan-elected starter in each of the last three seasons, has received 2,135,223 votes as he looks to become the 10th different A.L. outfielder in history to earn four consecutive fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson (four from 1972-75 and five from 1980-84); Dave Winfield (six from 1983-88); Rickey Henderson (four from 1985-88); and Kirby Puckett (four from 1992-95); as well as Ken Griffey, Jr. (10 from 1990-99); Manny Ramirez (eight from 1999-2006); Vladimir Guerrero (four from 2004-07); Ichiro Suzuki (four from 2001-04 and five from 2006-10); and Josh Hamilton (five from 2008-12). Bautista is also bidding to become the second player in Blue Jays history to receive four fan-elected starting nods, joining Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar (2B, 1991-94). Bautista, who has reached base safely in 61 of his 64 games, entered play on Sunday as the A.L. leader with a .438 on-base percentage and was tied for fifth in the league with 15 home runs.

Bautista is joined in the outfield by Trout, who has garnered 1,945,170 votes, and his Blue Jays teammate Melky Cabrera, who has totaled 1,096,784 votes. Trout, who last year at 21 years old became the youngest A.L. position player to start the All-Star Game since Ivan Rodriguez in 1993, is bidding to join Hall of Famer Rod Carew (1979-84), Fred Lynn (1982-83), Jackson (1982-84) and Guerrero (2004-07) as the only Angels in history to earn consecutive fan-elected starts. Entering Sunday, the 2012 A.L. Rookie of the Year had hits in 14 of his last 15 games and had reached base safely in 26 of his last 27 games. Cabrera, a 2012 N.L. All-Star, would become the fourth different Blue Jays outfielder in history to receive a fan election, joining Bautista, Joe Carter (1993-94) and George Bell (1987). Cabrera and Bautista are trying to become the first pair of Blue Jays to start a Midsummer Classic since 1994, when Alomar and Carter were elected to start by the fans. In addition, they would become the first pair of teammates to start in the A.L. outfield since Boston’s Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez in 2005, and it would mark the 17th All-Star Game in history to feature starting teammates in the A.L. outfield. Cabrera, who entered Sunday second in the Majors with 81 hits, is followed in balloting by Baltimore Orioles three-time All-Star and 2013 starter Adam Jones (820,336); 2011 A.L. All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury (813,357) of the New York Yankees; and Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (799,123), bidding for his first All-Star selection.

At shortstop, 13-time A.L. All-Star Derek Jeter of the Yankees, who has garnered 1,376,054 votes, is trying to hold off Alexei Ramirez (1,212,362) of the Chicago White Sox in the A.L.’s closest race for a starting assignment. Jeter, who ranks eighth on the all-time hit list with 3,370 hits, is seeking his ninth fan election, which would make him the seventh player in A.L. history to earn as many fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. (17 with Baltimore), George Brett (11 with Kansas City) and Carew (nine with Minnesota); as well as Griffey, Jr. (10 with Seattle); Suzuki (nine with Seattle); and Ivan Rodriguez (nine with Texas). Ramirez, who is attempting to become the first White Sox shortstop to make the All-Star Game since Ozzie Guillen in 1991, entered Sunday tied for the A.L. lead with 24 multi-hit games, tied for fourth with a .321 batting average and ranked fifth with 77 hits.

Joining Jeter up the middle at second base is his former teammate and five-time All-Star Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners. Cano, in his first year with Seattle, has accumulated 1,111,880 votes as he continues to lead three-time All-Star Ian Kinsler (887,544) of the Detroit Tigers and four-time All-Star Dustin Pedroia (778,700) of the Boston Red Sox. Cano, the A.L. starting second baseman in each of the last four seasons, is aiming to become the third second baseman in A.L. history to earn five consecutive fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famers Carew (six straight, 1970-75) and Alomar (five straight, 1996-2000). Cano, who entered Sunday with an A.L.-best .332 batting average, would join Bret Boone (2001) as the only fan-elected starting second basemen in Mariners history. In addition, Cano, who was also tied for first in the A.L. with 24 multi-hit games and ranked seventh with 75 hits, could become just the fourth Seattle infielder to receive an election from the fans, joining Boone, John Olerud (1B, 2001) and Alex Rodriguez (SS, 1997-98; 2000). Since May 3rd, Cano leads the Majors with a .375 batting average, going 45-for-120 in that span.

Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who entered play on Sunday leading the Majors with 21 home runs and 55 RBI, continues to hold a slight advantage over David Ortiz of the Red Sox. Cruz, a two-time All-Star, has tallied 1,404,275 votes while Ortiz, a nine-time All-Star and seven-time fan-elected starter (including two at first base), has received a total of 1,036,055 votes. Entering Sunday, Cruz had hit safely in 20 of his last 24 games since May 13th, batting .364 (32-for-88) during that span with eight doubles, 11 homers, 19 runs scored and 25 RBI. He is attempting to end Ortiz’s run of three consecutive fan-elected starts at designated hitter, and would become just the fifth different fan-elected starter at the position, joining Edgar Martinez (1997, 2001, 2003), Jose Canseco (1999), Ortiz (2005, 2008, 2011-13) and Guerrero (2010).

At the corner infield spots, first baseman Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and third baseman Josh Donaldson of the Athletics continue to lead at their positions. Cabrera has received 1,477,420 votes, which ranks third overall in the A.L., while Donaldson has collected 1,470,544 votes, good for fourth overall in the Junior Circuit. Cabrera, an eight-time All-Star and the A.L.’s 2013 starting third baseman, leads the A.L. with a .418 batting average with runners in scoring position. In addition, he entered play on Sunday second in the league with 51 RBI, tied for second with 20 doubles, tied for third with 31 extra-base hits, fourth with a .321 batting average and seventh with 125 total bases and a .545 slugging percentage. The reigning two-time A.L. MVP (also 2012) would become just the fifth player in Tigers history to earn multiple fan-elected starting assignments at the Midsummer Classic, joining catchers Bill Freehan (1970, 1972), Lance Parrish (1984-86), Ivan Rodriguez (2004, 2006-07) and second baseman Lou Whitaker (1984-86). In addition, the 2012 Triple Crown winner would join former teammate Prince Fielder as the only fan-elected starting first basemen in Tigers history. Cabrera is followed at first base by Chicago White Sox rookie Jose Abreu (845,059). Donaldson, in search of his first All-Star selection, is batting .296 (29-for-98) with 26 runs scored, two doubles, a triple, 10 home runs and 26 RBI over his last 26 games. He would become the first A’s third baseman to earn a fan-elected start, and the first Oakland player overall to receive a fan-election since first baseman Jason Giambi in 2000. Entering the day on Sunday, Donaldson leads the Majors with 51 runs scored, ranks third in the A.L. with 132 total bases, is tied for third with 50 RBI and 17 home runs, is sixth with 30 extra-base hits and is ninth with a .543 slugging percentage. He is followed at the hot corner by three-time All-Star Evan Longoria (729,092) of the Tampa Bay Rays. With four different teams currently represented in the A.L. infield, the 85th All-Star Game could mark the first time since 2003, and the 19th time overall since fan balloting began in 1970, that the four A.L. fan-elected starting infielders come from four different teams.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters continues to pace the field behind the plate, drawing 1,235,369 votes to lead seven-time All-Star Brian McCann (827,200) of the Yankees and Athletics backstop Derek Norris (813,053). Wieters, a two-time All-Star, is seeking his first fan-elected start and would join Terry Kennedy (1987) as the only catchers in Orioles history to earn a fan election. Wieters, who is batting .308 with five home runs and 18 RBI on the season, is currently on the disabled list with a right elbow strain. Along with Cruz, the duo is aiming to give the Orioles multiple starters in consecutive years (Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones in 2013) for the first time since 1997 (Alomar, Ripken, Brady Anderson) and 1998 (Alomar, Ripken).

MLB’s All-Star Balloting Program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. The last two years represent the two highest totals in balloting history, including a record 40.2 million ballots cast in 2012. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at MLB’s 30 ballparks, each of which will have 23 dates for balloting.

In addition, fans around the world can cast their votes for starters 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 Club web sites – online or via their mobile devices – with the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian. The All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian is available in English and Spanish, and offers audio CAPTCHA functionality for visually-impaired fans. Banco BHD sponsors online All-Star balloting in the Dominican Republic, making Spanish-language ballots available to fans in the Dominican Republic via LasMayores.com, the official Spanish-language Web site of Major League Baseball.

Every Major League Club began its in-stadium balloting no later than May 12th. When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes no later than June 26th, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 Club Web sites and their mobile devices until Thursday, July 3rd at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

Firestone, the official tire of MLB, is once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2014 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events, and VIP on-field access to watch batting practice before the All-Star Game with an MLB legend.

For the sixth consecutive year, the ballot features the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans have the opportunity to select three players in each League who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The Fan Poll is also available online at MLB.com. The 2014 Home Run Derby, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8:00 p.m. (ET)/7:00 p.m. (CT) on Monday, July 14th. The 10 American League candidates are Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays; Carlos Beltran of the New York Yankees; Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers; Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners; 2013 Home Run Derby Champion Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics; Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles; Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers; All-Star Ambassador Joe Mauer of the Twins; David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox; and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The 10 National League candidates are Pedro Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates; Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds; Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks; Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals; Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves; Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants; Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers; Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins; Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies; and David Wright of the New York Mets.

The 2014 American League and National League All-Star Teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5th-6th, with further details to follow.   The A.L. All-Star Team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the N.L. All-Star Team will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. – will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – N.L. skipper Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals and A.L. manager John Farrell of the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.

Immediately following the announcement of the American League and National League All-Star rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each League’s 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over the balloting period. Now in its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile phones.

This year’s final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 Club sites via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15th. The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

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