Cano to start All-Star Game; Felix named to staff
Second baseman becomes Seattle's first fan-voted starter since Ichiro in 2010
CHICAGO -- A Mariners team that has been one of baseball's biggest surprises in the first half of the season was rewarded with two All-Star selections on Sunday as Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez earned invitations to the Midsummer Classic.
Cano was voted onto the team by fans, while Hernandez was voted in by the players.
The Mariners have two other deserving candidates in closer Fernando Rodney and third baseman Kyle Seager, and both still figure as prime contenders to be added to the American League squad later if openings occur due to injuries or pitchers who can't participate after throwing on Sunday prior to the game.
"Well deserved," manager Lloyd McClendon said of his two All-Stars. "Those guys performed extremely well in the first half. That's a nice honor. There's some other things going on, and hopefully we'll get a couple more guys on there. We'll see what happens.
"My closer is leading the league in saves. That's pretty good. My third baseman's numbers are as good as any third baseman's in the league. They're both deserving. This is a tough process. Somebody has to be left off, but hopefully it's not them."
Cano and Hernandez, two of the game's brightest and highest-paid stars, won't have to play that waiting game, however. Cano became the first Seattle position player voted into the starting lineup since Ichiro Suzuki in 2010 as he won his fifth straight fan balloting at second base.
"It's still special," Cano said. "It's a chance to show the fans who voted me to the All-Star team that it's something I'm excited about and have in my heart, to get that voting now that I'm with a new team and they're watching and appreciating what I'm doing here."
Cano becomes just the third second baseman in AL history to be selected by the fans to start at least five consecutive years, joining Hall of Famers Rod Carew (1970-75) and Roberto Alomar ('96-2000). The two other AL second basemen with five or more straight starts are also in the Hall of Fame -- Nellie Fox ('55-59) and Charlie Gehringer ('33-38).
Cano's previous four starting berths came as a member of the Yankees. He's just the fourth Mariners infielder ever elected by the fans, joining second baseman Bret Boone (2001), first baseman John Olerud ('01) and shortstop Alex Rodriguez (1997-98 and '00). This will be Cano's sixth All-Star appearance, as he also was named as a reserve in '06, though he was injured and didn't appear in that game.
Hernandez earned his fifth All-Star bid -- tying Randy Johnson for the most for a Seattle pitcher -- and has a legitimate chance to be named the AL's starter in the July 15 game in Minneapolis. The 28-year-old ace leads the AL in ERA at 2.11 and owns a 10-2 record, with one start remaining on Friday against the A's before the All-Star break.
The Mariners remain the only team in the Majors that hasn't had a player selected for the Final Vote competition, so Seager and Rodney now must wait to see if spots open in the next week.
"It's not something I can control," said Seager. "The good thing is we've been playing really good baseball, so that's something you don't have to worry about. We've got a good thing going here and that kind of takes up all your thoughts."
Here are the Mariners' All-Star selections for this year:
Robinson Cano, 2B
Prior ASGs: 2006, '10-13
ASG W-L: 2-3
ASG stats: 1-for-5, 1 RBI, 1 HBP
How he made 2014 AL team: Elected by fans for the fifth straight year
Why he's an All-Star: Cano is one of the elite players in the game and his impact has been noticeable on a Seattle club that is emerging as one of baseball's biggest first-half surprises. The 31-year-old has ranked among the AL leaders in batting average and hits all year, and he has filled a crucial role in the middle of the Mariners' batting order, while also shining defensively as a two-time Gold Glove winner whose smooth fielding is an often-overlooked part of his game.
DYK?: Cano only lasted one inning in last year's All-Star Game when he had to leave the game with a bruised right quadriceps after getting drilled in the right leg with a 96-mph fastball in his first at-bat by the Mets' Matt Harvey as the second batter of the game.
Quotable: "He's been great. What he's done offensively, defensively, from a preparation standpoint, caressing and helping some young players along, I think it's been huge. He's a great player that makes other players around him better, and I've been very pleased with how he's gone about his business." -- McClendon
Felix Hernandez, RHP
Prior ASGs: 2009, '11-13
ASG W-L: 2-2
ASG stats: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 K.
How he made 2014 AL team: Player selection.
Why he's an All-Star: Hernandez has put up the best first half of his career, which is saying something given he's been one of baseball's best for the past decade. The 28-year-old ace leads the AL in ERA and hit the 10-win mark prior to the All-Star Game for just the second time in his outstanding 10-year career.
DYK?: Though he's been selected four previous times, Hernandez has thrown just 21 pitches in All-Star Games. He needed just eight pitches to mow down Orlando Hudson, Albert Pujols and Justin Upton in his first game in 2009, didn't pitch in '11 or '12 due to having thrown for Seattle on the Sunday before the game, then needed just 12 pitches in an inning last year during which he gave up a lone single to Carlos Beltran in a scoreless fourth.
Quotable: "I'm happy. I'm happy just to be part of it. To be part of the All-Star Game is always exciting. You never forget about that." -- Hernandez
Immediately following the announcement of the AL and National League All-Star rosters on Sunday, fans began 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 can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until the winners are announced after the voting concludes on Thursday at 1 p.m. PT.
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans help choose 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 via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers, for the first time, will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 platforms that support MLB.TV, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, 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 national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.