|Adrian Gonzalez, who leads the majors in RBIs, was voted the starting first baseman for the AL. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)|
Four Sox join AL squad
Ellsbury becomes first-time All-Star
HOUSTON - He believed the Red Sox should have had more representatives, but manager Terry Francona was thrilled for the four players the team will send to the All-Star Game July 12 at Chase Field. Especially for center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who yesterday made the squad for the first time in his career.
Ellsbury, voted in by the players as a reserve, will join pitcher Josh Beckett, also named a reserve, and designated hitter David Ortiz and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, both of whom were voted as starters by the fans.
“I think we’re all probably biased, every manager, but I thought we’d have more,’’ Francona said, citing 10-game winner Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jonathan Papelbon, and Daniel Bard. “But David with his resurgence . . . and Gonzy’s a no-brainer, and Beckett’s been as good as anybody. But I was really happy for Ellsbury, because I think this probably meant a lot to him.’’
“I don’t need to talk to him, but it’s almost like, ‘You’ve kind of arrived,’ ’’ Francona added. “What he’s doing, it’s recognized throughout the league, and I think that’s terrific.’’
Ellsbury, who is hitting .302 in the leadoff position, suffered broken ribs that kept him out of all but 18 games last season. As a result, some criticized him as being fragile.
“You can’t play baseball with broken ribs,’’ Pedroia said. “It’s not football, where you play one game a week. You’ve got to play 162 games. So it was unfair the criticism he got from a lot of people, but we all stuck by him and understood what he went through.
“Now he’s getting the last laugh.’’
Ellsbury took the humble approach regarding his selection.
After he received word from Francona in the morning in the clubhouse at Minute Maid Park, he shared the news with his family in Madras, Ore.
“Obviously, I’m excited, just to be elected by your peers, someone you see every single day, going out playing,’’ said Ellsbury, who is leading the AL in stolen bases with 26, and was tied for third with 100 hits. “To be elected by them, it’s an honor, and I’m just excited to be going to Arizona.’’
“You’re going to be playing with the best players in the game,’’ Ellsbury added. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play in this game and it’s here, so I’m excited.’’
Was it more gratifying, given the work he had to do in the offseason to recover from his rib injuries?
“It’s definitely gratifying, as much work as I put in once the season ended,’’ Ellsbury said. “To get back, like I have this year, it’s very special. But any time you get elected to an All-Star Game, it’s special.’’
Beckett, who improved to 7-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.12 in yesterday’s 2-1 win over the Astros, was selected to his third All-Star Game.
Ortiz will make his seventh All-Star appearance after getting 6,324,793 votes, the fourth most in the majors and more than 3 million more than Texas’s Michael Young, who was second in the DH voting.
“It’s an honor for me, and it’s a great time,’’ said Ortiz, who also will captain the four-man AL squad in the Home Run Derby. “It’s fun, it’s something the fans really enjoy. It’s just a few days, but you get really worn out. The fans put a lot of enthusiasm into it, and it’s pretty much time to hang out with your family and get to know some of the guys. It’s a good time.’’
Gonzalez earned his fourth consecutive All-Star selection but first as a starter in his first year in the AL. He received 6,034,533 votes to beat out New York’s Mark Teixeira (4,174,690), who wound up being left off the team.
Gonzalez earned three straight All-Star nods as a reserve when he was with the Padres from 2008-10.
“I’ve always said that it’s great to make an All-Star Game, but you’ve still got another half to play so you have to continue to play hard,’’ Gonzalez said. “But it’s nice to be able to represent the Red Sox and everybody else.’’
It was even nicer to be voted a starter.
“Yeah, it’ll be fun,’’ said Gonzalez, who is hitting .350 and is the major league leader in RBIs (74). “You get to get a few extra at-bats and enjoy the rest of the guys finishing out the game.’’
As for those deserving teammates who didn’t make it?
“We’re a team full of talent and we’ve got a few guys in it and a few guys who deserved to be,’’ Gonzalez said. “You experience this with any team, guys who should’ve made it and didn’t. A team like this, where you have not just a few, but plenty of guys who should be in it, it’s just the way the game is.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.