Hernandez leads Padres on ballot
Catcher receives vote of confidence from his teammates
Padres ace Jake Peavy can't understand why Ramon Hernandez isn't drawing more fan support in the All-Star Game balloting. The durable, productive receiver is fourth, trailing the Mets' Mike Piazza, the Marlins' Paul Lo Duca and the Cubs' Michael Barrett."Ramon's the best catcher in the National League, bar none," Peavy said. "I don't think it's even close. Show me someone who can do all the things Ramon can do. He's been great for us in every category." The numbers seem to favor Hernandez over his main rivals. Nursing a sprained left wrist, the result of a dive back to first base after a wide turn Friday night at the Metrodome, the native Venezulean is batting .280 with 26 runs scored, a .428 slugging percentage with 101 total bases and 20 extra-base hits. Only Jason Kendall of the A's has started more games than Hernandez's 50 and caught more innings than his 516 1/3. "I definitely think he belongs on the All-Star team," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said of Hernandez, who represented Oakland and the American League in the 2003 Midsummer Classic. "Ramon's been great on both sides of the ball. He calls an excellent game, throws well and can hit. He's gotten a lot of clutch hits for us late in ballgames." Hernandez is batting .297 with runners in scoring position and is third on the team with 33 RBIs. Though known primarily for their offensive prowess, neither Piazza nor Lo Duca has been Hernandez's equal this season. Coming into Sunday, Piazza was batting .255 with seven homers, 28 RBIs and 23 runs scored. Lo Duca was batting .293 with two homers, 26 RBIs and 22 runs scored. The Cubs' Barrett measures up more closely with Hernandez with his .290 average, eight homers, 33 RBIs and 20 runs scored. The players will have an opportunity to give Hernandez a ticket to Detroit by voting him among the reserves. That distinction fell last season to Padres second baseman Mark Loretta, who is on the disabled list with a fractured left thumb and is due back sometime around the All-Star break. The omission of Brian Giles among the top 15 vote-getters in the outfield also has baffled the Padres. "Brian's one of the best players in the league, in my opinion," Bochy said. "He does so many things for a ballclub. I'd hate to be without him, that's for sure."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.