Six Red Sox were named this afternoon to the 2009 American League All-Star team, including 17-year veteran Tim Wakefield for the first time.
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira beat out Kevin Youkilis at first base as a starter, but Youkilis made the game as a reserve. Dustin Pedroia edged Ian Kinsler for the spot at second base in a close vote. Jason Bay, as expected, will start in the outfield. Jonathan Papelbon and Josh Beckett made the game as well as reserves.
“There’s no word to describe the All-Star game and how exciting and fun it is to play with some of the best players in the game,” Youkilis said. “And just to be mentioned in the same group and categories as those guys, it’s just one of those fun experiences.”
The voting at both first base and second base proved to be the most interesting to Red Sox fans. At first, Teixeira came back to narrowly edge Youkilis in the voting. On June 30, just two days before the end of fan balloting, Youkilis (1,915,303) had pulled ahead of Teixeira (1,875,256) by 40,047 votes. The week before Teixeira led Youk by a margin of 35,632 votes. In the prior week’s update, Youkilis held a slim lead over Teixeira (1,315 votes). The week before that, Youkilis trailed Teixeira by 1,209 votes.
At second base, reigning AL MVP Pedroia (2,163,270) had closed the gap significantly on the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler, trailing by just 6,830 votes of more than 2 million votes cast for each player. Pedroia narrowly edged out Kinsler in the final voting.
“It’s great to be voted in by the fans,” Pedroia said. “Obviously my numbers aren’t as good as some of the other guys, but it’s an honor to be voted in by those guys so I’ll go out there and play as hard as I can.
Bay, who will make his first All-Star start for the American League after being named an NL starting outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates three years ago, ran away with the fan voting among AL outfielders. He’ll be joined in St. Louis by Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki and Texas’ Josh Hamilton.
But the story of the day might have been Wakefield, who made his first All-Star team in 17 seasons in the majors. Wakefield (10-3, 4.30 ERA, 53 strikeouts) was chosen as a reserve by Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, who will manage the AL team in St. Louis on July 14. In his last outing, Wakefield pitched eight innings against the Mariners Friday, yielding five runs on 10 hits en route to a no-decision.
“The time he’s put in this game and the sacrifices he’s made to be able to wear the Red Sox uniform at the All-Star game is a special thing,” said Papelbon. “Your first one is always special, you’re always going to remember that one.”
Wakefield got a standing ovation this afternoon when the Sox’ All-Stars were announced at Fenway Park, and acknowledged the cheering crowd with a wave.
“That was pretty cool,” said Wakefield. “It was phenomenal, it just shows how much the fans really care, not just about me but our players here. For them to give me the kind of ovation they gave me, it makes me feel very welcomed here and I’ve felt that way for a long time because the fans have been behind me since I’ve been here. Like I’ve always said, they’re our 26th man on the roster — I owe a lot of my success to them.
“I have a lot of emotions running through right now. It’s a pretty proud moment for me and my family.”
Red Sox manager Terry Francona decided to have a little fun with Wakefield before telling him the good news. After having the other five All-Stars — Bay, Pedroia, Youkilis, Beckett and Papelbon — in his office, he wanted to tell Wakefield, as a joke, that he didn’t make it.
“It didn’t last very long,” Francona said.
Said Wakefield, “It was pretty funny. I was actually in the weight room doing my work and John Ferrell had come in and said, ‘Tito wants to see you after he talks to the other guys.’ I didn’t know what other guys. Then I got to his office and the office was closed. When it opened, he called me into the office and I saw all the other guys walking out with their All-Star packages. He sat me down and tried to play it off like it wasn’t good news. He couldn’t hold the laughter.”
Papelbon (20 saves, 1.75 ERA) will be making his fourth All-Star appearance in four years with the Red Sox, while Beckett will be making his second All-Star appearance since coming to Boston. Pedroia and Youkilis both made the team last season.
New York’s Derek Jeter, who made the team for the 10th time, was the leading vote-getter in the American League and will start at shortstop, while Cardinals star Albert Pujols received the most votes overall. The complete rosters for the American League and National League can be found here.
One other interesting note is that Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena, who has 23 home runs for the Rays this season, was left off the team but is one of five players fans can vote onto the team’s last roster spot. Pena faced stiff competition at first base with Youkilis, Teixeira, and Minnesota’s Justin Morneau all virtual locks for the team.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report