Jimenez, Tulowitzki named first-time All-Stars
Injured shortstop won't play, but Majors wins leader could start
DENVER -- One of the best starts to a season in recent baseball history was rewarded Sunday when right-handed pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was named to the National League squad for the 81st All-Star Game, set for July 13 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, hitting .306 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs before suffering a fractured left wrist, was elected through player, manager and coach voting. However, he will not be able to participate in the game, but will be invited to all other activities. Mets shortstop Jose Reyes will replace him.It's the first invitation for both players.
Jimenez becomes the fifth pitcher in Rockies history to earn the honor. The others were Mike Hampton (2001), Shawn Chacon (2003), Brian Fuentes (2003-07) and Aaron Cook (2008). Chacon was injured and did not appear."It's really special," Jimenez said. "It's a moment for any player. You get to share a moment of your life with a lot of great players. At the same time, you're going to be facing a lot of great players, too." The Rockies could have another active participant. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who entered Sunday hitting .297 and leading the Rockies in home runs with 14 and RBIs with 51, was named one of the nominees for the 2010 All-Star Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint. Fans will be able to elect a candidate from Gonzalez, Padres closer Heath Bell, Reds first baseman Joey Votto, Braves closer Billy Wagner and Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show and continues through 2 p.m. MT on Thursday. The Rockies did not have a starter elected by the fans, but at 14-1 with a 2.27 ERA, Jimenez is a prime candidate to start the contest for the NL. Jimenez, 26, was the NL Pitcher of the Month in April and May. He has slowed down somewhat this month, but has managed not to lose a game. His 14 wins are three more than the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright, who is second in the league in wins. Still, there is sentiment for the Marlins' Josh Johnson, who has turned hot and lowered his ERA to an NL-leading 1.82, as well as Wainwright and the Phillies' Roy Halladay. The decision on the starter belongs to Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "Anyone would want to start a game like that," Jimenez said. "But I'm just going to be happy for the opportunity to be there and have a good time. Whatever they decide." Jimenez has won his last eight decisions, which is tied with Jeff Francis' run in 2007 for longest in club history. In addition, he has scoreless streaks of 25 1/3 and a club-record 33 innings this season. He became the first pitcher with 14 wins in his first 16 starts in a season since Pedro Martinez in 1999. Martinez was an idol of Jimenez when he was growing up in the Dominican Republic and has been a friend and advisor to him during his pro career. In a season full of highlights, Jimenez threw the first no-hit game in Rockies history by shutting down the Braves, 4-0, on April 17. He has limited opponents to a .203 batting average, second-lowest in the league to the .193 by the Padres' Mat Latos, and has 107 strikeouts, ninth-most in the league. Tulowitzki was a prime bet to play in the All-Star Game for the first time until he suffered the injury on June 17 when hit by a pitch late in a 5-1 victory over the Twins. Still, being selected through peer balloting is a reward for Tulowitzki, who before this year had slow first-half performances but has been among the most productive players in baseball at his position after the All-Star break. "Winning the fan vote would be an awesome honor -- especially to be a Rockie and get voted on by the fans would be neat," Tulowitzki said. "But at the same time, anytime your peers you play against see what you've done, it makes it special. "It makes you realize they appreciate how you go about the game and how you play. I know when I fill out my ballot, it goes into what I vote on. 'How does he play the game?' ' Does he go about it the right way?' I'm not necessarily speaking about his numbers." Manager Jim Tracy was happy Tulowitzki's contribution was not forgotten. "We've got the situation with Tulowitzki, which is very unfortunate, but it's very deservedly so for him to be voted in," Tracy said. "There's no question he deserves to be there." Omitted from the NL squad was catcher Miguel Olivo, who is hitting .308 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs. Even though he did not have enough plate appearances going into Sunday to qualify for statistical leaders based on percentages, Olivo entered Sunday tied for the second-most homers and RBIs among catchers, and the batting average was tops among NL catchers. He also threw out 18 of 37 would-be basestealers. "Me and Carlos were talking just now, and I think to make the All-Star team you just need to be lucky, not have numbers," Olivo said. "The numbers were there, but the luck's not there. That's how we joked about it. "I'm trying not make the thing a big deal. I'll go home and enjoy my family. That's it." Tracy said Olivo deserved to be honored, based on his offense and his work behind the plate, especially handling Jimenez. Olivo was the primary catcher for the Royals last season when Zack Greinke won the American League Cy Young Award. "You'd be hard-pressed to come up with another catcher's name in the National League who, across the board statistically, have numbers that are comparable when you factor in the entire game," Tracy said.
More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots were distributed at the 30 Major League ballparks, each of which had 23 home dates for balloting, and in approximately 100 Minor League ballparks. Every Major League club began its in-stadium balloting no later than May 10. As part of a new sponsorship with Scotts, the official sponsor of the 2010 Retail All-Star Balloting Program, fans had the opportunity to vote at approximately 1,700 Lowe's locations nationwide.Fans around the world had the opportunity to cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the 2010 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint, available exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 club websites. The 2010 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint offered English and Spanish-language versions of the ballot as well as audio CAPTCHA functionality for visually-impaired fans. Sprint subscribers also voted on select Sprint mobile devices.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.