As Brian McCann made his fourth trip to the All-Star Game, the Braves' catcher drew credit from peers in both leagues.
07/15/2009 2:15 PM ET
McCann continues to turn heads
Braves catcher receives plaudits from peers in St. Louis
"He's got a really, really advanced approach," Josh Beckett told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I don't know. Maybe some of that comes from catching. Because everybody I've ever talked to who's thrown to him raves about the way he catches, how much pride he takes in it."
"I think he's one of the most underappreciated players in the game," David Wright said. "To be able to do what he does catching-wise, and still hit and be as productive as he's been, says a lot about him. I don't think he's gotten the credit for what he's done."
Figgins' deep slumber comes to an end: When starting AL third baseman Evan Longoria was scratched from the All-Star Game, the easy decision was to replace him with Chone Figgins. The hard part was tracking Figgins down and getting him to the game on time.
Angels vice president of communications Tim Mead was unable to reach Figgins via phone, since Figgins was sleeping, so he got creative.
"He got hold of [former Angel] Garret Anderson, and Garret Anderson called my uncle, who called my mom," Figgins told the Los Angeles Times. "She told them that my uncle, who is a Class A coach for the Angels, was staying with me because their team had an off day. So they called my uncle, and he ran in banging on my door."
"It would have been nice to have played," Figgins said after the AL's 4-3 victory. "But it's not disappointing. It's a thrill that I was here. It was a special day. I can say I'm an All-Star."
Bailey soaks up bullpen chatter: Andrew Bailey enjoyed a storybook first half of 2009, which culminated in the A's closer being selected to the AL All-Star team.
In St. Louis, Bailey continued to lead the good life, where he got to pal around with other top closers in the game, including Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon and Joe Nathan.
"I watched those guys growing up," Bailey told the San Francisco Chronicle before leaving for the game. "I've never crossed paths with any of them. I'm looking forward to sitting in the bullpen with them."
"He's someone I'd love to learn from," Bailey said of Rivera. "He stays so calm out there. He doesn't wear his emotions. I don't know how he does it."
Ichiro makes trip to Sisler's gravesite: In 2004, Ichiro Suzuki broke the long-standing record of Hall of Famer George Sisler for most hits in a season. Members of the Sisler family came to Seattle to mark the occasion.
With this year's All-Star Game in St. Louis, Ichiro visited the gravesite of Sisler, where he brought flowers and paid his respects.
"There's not many chances to come to St. Louis," Ichiro told the Seattle Times. "In 2004, it was the first time I crossed paths with him, and his family generously came all the way to Seattle. I wanted to do that for a grand upperclassman of the baseball world. I think it's only natural for someone to want to do that, to express my feelings in that way. I'm not sure if he's happy about it."
Buehrle has a perfect homecoming: Having grown up just outside of St. Louis, Mark Buehrle had a little more on his mind that just his one inning of perfect relief work in Tuesday's All-Star Game. He also had the pressure of performing in front of his hometown fans.
"It was nice," Buehrle told MLB.com after the American League's 4-3 win. "I didn't have any more nerves than normal, except when [Albert] Pujols came up in the box there. Obviously, you get a little more nervous. But it was awesome. I couldn't draw it up any better -- facing Pujols in an All-Star Game at home."
Jones produces with sac fly: As an All-Star, the most you can hope for is the chance to win the game for your team, and that's just what Adam Jones faced Tuesday night. The Baltimore center fielder came through with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning that lifted the AL to a 4-3 victory.
"I got the opportunity to drive in a game-winning run, and I was fortunate that I was able to do it," Jones told MLB.com. "I didn't see too many pitches. I was going up there hacking, but they were just away, so I just didn't try to pull them and just went that way. I had to shorten up and just try to use my hands and not my body and put the ball in play, because I'm a hard guy to double up. So, if I could put the ball in play, I knew I had a good chance of getting the run in."
Nathan glad to take part in showdown: In the eighth inning of Tuesday's All-Star Game, Joe Nathan found himself facing Ryan Howard with two runners on and the AL clinging to a 4-3 lead over the NL. For the Twins' closer, it was an opportunity to excel.
"It's a situation where I want to face guys like that," Nathan told MLB.com. "It brings you to a different level. It brings your body to a level you can't normally get to. You respect the game, and you respect the fans and the matchups they want to see."
Duke thankful for All-Star experience: Zach Duke didn't get to pitch in Tuesday night's All-Star Game because he was being held out as a potential long reliever if the game went into extra innings, but he still enjoyed the experience.
"It's been fast and furious, but it's been great," Duke told the Pitttsburgh Post-Gazette. "I had such a blast. It's been so well-run, just what you'd expect from St. Louis. It's been a ton of fun."
Lilly ready to get back into division race: Ted Lilly was thrilled to represent the Cubs at Tuesday night's All-Star Game, despite not having a chance to pitch.
"It's obviously really special for me to be here, but when you start to think about the second half, that's a lot more important," Lilly told MLB.com. "We're going to be playing a lot of those division games that are going to be crucial for us.
"This was fun, but now when we get back and get it going in Washington, we have an opportunity to catch the guys in front of us."
Pujols greeted by mammoth ovation: The hometown crowd in St. Louis gave Albert Pujols a thunderous ovation upon his introduction at the All-Star Game.
"It was almost getting to the point where I got a little bit emotional," Pujols told MLB.com. "Because yesterday and today, the way that the fans treat me and [Ryan] Franklin and [Yadier Molina] -- it was pretty special, and I wasn't expecting anything different. That's how we feel every night from these fans. They are the best fans in baseball."
Crawford glad to play as a winner: Carl Crawford appeared in his third All-Star Game on Tuesday night, but it had a different feel because he was representing a team coming off a World Series appearance in 2008.
"Like they say, winning changes everything," Crawford told the Houston Chronicle. "It's definitely different."
Crawford's over-the-fence catch of Brad Hawpe's seventh-inning drive preserved a 4-3 American League lead and earned the left fielder the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player.
Hill climbs his way back to the top: Last May 29, Aaron Hill suffered a season-ending concussion. There was some speculation that he might not be able to return to baseball. Not only has Hill made it back, he was the starting second baseman for the AL All-Star team on Tuesday night.
"It's pretty special," Hill told the Toronto Star. "It's pretty surreal. It's great to be back in uniform and be successful. This is as rewarding as it gets right now."
Halladay gets Maddon's attention, starting nod: Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon had several good pitchers to choose from when it came to naming the starter for the AL All-Star team. In the end, he went with Roy Halladay.
"There are so many qualified pitchers among the group," Maddon told MLB.com. "But based on the body of work, I think Doc over the past several years has demonstrated to be possibly the best pitcher in the American League.
"He's still at the very pinnacle of his pitching ability."
Fielder takes simple approach to title: Prince Fielder had a simple game plan when it came to Monday night's All-Star Home Run Derby.
"Just hit the ball hard," the Milwaukee Brewers first baseman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "And if I get under it a little bit, I might have a chance."
Fielder hit a total of 23 home runs in three rounds. He opened with 11 homers in the first round to help him easily advance to the second round. He then added six more homers to move into the final round against Nelson Cruz of Texas, who hit five homers in the finals compared to Fielder's six.
Cruz gets a confidence boost with selection: Nelson Cruz was a late addition to the All-Star team and then fell just short of winning the Home Run Derby contest held Monday night.
Rangers teammate and fellow All-Star Michael Young believes the fact Cruz is now an All-Star can be a huge boost to his confidence.
"Nellie's already a confident guy, and I think we've seen that, over the last year or so, we've seen him kind of turn the page," Young told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "You see his mentality really develop into that of an impact big leaguer. That's been a lot of fun to watch. From his point, being an All-Star, being able to be recognized for the work he's put in, it can only do big things for him. I'm excited to see the kind of second half he's going to have."
Francouer used to hitting hard: One player who believes Jeff Francouer will succeed in New York with the Mets is former Atlanta teammate Brian McCann.
The two played on the same youth baseball team when they were 12, and both joined the Braves system after being drafted in 2002. The Braves traded Francouer to the Mets this past weekend for Ryan Church.
"He's one of the best football players I've ever witnessed," McCann told the New York Daily News. "He was better at football than he was in baseball in high school. He was going to Clemson to play football. I think he had like 16 interceptions in 14 games.
"Going to a new city, a new team -- a fresh start -- I think it's going to be great for him. He's gotten two hits both games [with the Mets]. And he got three hits the game before he left. I think he's on his way back to really driving the baseball, getting some RBIs and being a run producer."
Jeter, Rivera bring special flavor to AL room: Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera both made their 10th All-Star appearance Tuesday night, and in the AL locker room, the pair was treated like royalty.
New teammate Mark Teixeira, who made his second trip to the All-Star Game, was glad to be attending the game with his teammates.
"You always want to make the All-Star team, because you want to be playing well," Teixeira told the New York Daily News, "but to be able to come here with Derek and Mo -- two of the greatest Yankees of all-time: the best closer of all-time and one of the best shortstops of all-time -- it's nice to be a part of that group."
Brocail making progress with recovery: Doug Brocail, on the disabled list since May with a torn left hamstring, threw 60 pitches in the bullpen on Sunday and may be close to throwing a simulated game. Current plans have the Houston pitcher throwing in Los Angeles on Friday.
"I feel good," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I can't throw a strike, but I feel good. The health is phenomenal, if [only] I could throw over the plate. I'd really need a lot of guys to swing [at everything] now to get strikes."
-- Red Line Editorial