Wagner declines All-Star Game invitation
Braves closer appreciative, but elects to rest sore ankle
NEW YORK -- Billy Wagner was appreciative Saturday night, when he received an invitation to compete in this year's All-Star Game. But the Braves' closer has decided he'd rather spend the next couple of days resting his sore right ankle.
When it was learned Jason Heyward wouldn't be able to play, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel invited Wagner to join his National League roster. The roster spot will now be filled by Dodgers left-handed reliever Hong-Chih Kuo.
Though he won't travel to Anaheim with the five other Braves All-Stars, Wagner will still be recognized for gaining this seventh and likely last All-Star selection. The 38-year-old left-hander plans to retire at the end of this season.
"Every player wants to be recognized and I know that every player doesn't get to experience this honor," Wagner said. "To know this is it for me and that I was recognized, not just because I'm retiring, but because of the numbers I was putting up, it makes it feel sometimes like it's all worth it."
Along with converting 20 of his 23 save opportunities, Wagner has posted a 1.24 ERA, compiled a 0.86 WHIP, and limited opponents to a .162 batting average and .492 OPS entering Sunday. Each of these marks stand as the best compiled by any National League closer this year.
Since turning his ankle during a June 17 appearance against the Rays, Wagner has been unavailable just once to pitch in a game. While bothersome, the ailment hasn't prevented him from continuing his dominant run toward retirement.
In the 11 innings Wagner has completed since turning his ankle, he has allowed one earned run, surrendered five hits and recorded 17 strikeouts.
Wagner thinks it would be beneficial for him to take a few days off now to prepare for the stretch run and a potential opportunity to pitch in the postseason.
"It's just good that I take some time off," Wagner said. "I can pitch on it. But I'd hate to try to push it, when I know that I had some time. I'd feel better if I knew that I was around for the whole duration of this year, rather than trying to fight through this ankle all year. When we get closer to the end, I'm going to have to be ready to go every day, and there's no days off."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.