video thumbnail

Washington announces AL All-Star starting lineup

PHOENIX -- If the 82nd Major League All-Star Game were to have a slogan, it might be "Prior experience not required."

A whopping 34 of the 68 players for Tuesday night's game at Chase Field are participating in the All-Star festivities for the first time, bringing a freshness and energy to the event, which begins at 8 ET on FOX.

Familiar names that have dotted All-Star rosters for years -- like Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki and Mariano Rivera on the American League side and National Leaguers Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones and David Wright -- are not playing in this year's game, opening the door for a new wave of baseball talent.


Exciting young players like Rickie Weeks, Jay Bruce, Matt Kemp and Andrew McCutchen will be making their first appearances for the NL, while Michael Pineda, Asdrubal Cabrera and Matt Wieters are among those debuting for the AL.

"You've got some young stars making their first appearances like Andrew McCutchen and Jay Bruce, guys that probably this won't be their last All-Star Game," NL reserve shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "They're probably going to be here for years to come and are excited for the experience."

Some of the first-timers were voted in by the fans like Weeks and Kemp, while others served as injury replacements or were named to fill in for pitchers who started Sunday and, therefore, were ineligible to pitch in the Midsummer Classic.

The original 68 players selected for the game has morphed into a record 83. All the changes have made for plenty of roster shuffling and have left clubhouse attendants on both sides scrambling to find extra lockers.

The AL has 18 players who are eligible to play Tuesday and are getting their first taste of the All-Star experience, while the NL has 16.

"The youth is taking the American League by storm, and [there are] a lot of first-timers," AL manager Ron Washington said.

Washington is charged with trying to get the AL back on the winning side of the ledger after the NL prevailed, 3-1, last year -- the Senior Circuit's first win since 1996.

To do that, the AL will rely on a power-laden lineup that includes a three-through-seven combination of Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and David Ortiz.

The lineup is so stacked, it has Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who won the Home Run Derby with 32 homers -- including a record 12 in the final round -- in the No. 8 spot.

"All I can say is, watch out, Bruce," Washington said referring to his NL counterpart, Bruce Bochy.

Washington also has some thunderous weapons available off the bench, including Paul Konerko, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Quentin and Kevin Youkilis.

It all adds up to quite a challenge for the NL pitching staff, which appears to be just as loaded as the AL offense, starting with Roy Halladay, who will be making his second All-Star start but his first for the NL.

"It's always a great experience coming to play here, and to get a chance to go out and compete against the best players is something you look forward to," said Halladay, who has not lost in nearly two months and is 11-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 19 starts this year.

The NL has plenty of good hurlers in its pen, as well, starting with the man who almost got the starting nod, Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens.

Meanwhile, the AL is without some of its best pitchers as Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, David Price and Jon Lester were not available to pitch.

With the AL lineup heavy on left-handers, Bochy added Braves lefty Jonny Venters for late-game matchups, though he also has a pair of excellent southpaw starters in Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and the Phillies' Cliff Lee, who could throw in relief.

"It's going to be difficult for sure," said Braves catcher Brian McCann, who will start behind the plate for the NL, "but good pitching beats good hitting any day of the week. These games are usually low scoring just because the pitching is so good. I mean, if you let these guys pitch just one inning and blow it out, come at you and throw as hard as they can for 12 or 13 pitches, it's really hard to hit it."

The last six All-Star Games have been decided by two runs or less, which puts an emphasis on the closer, and the AL will not have one of the best of all time in Rivera, who is injured.

Look for Detroit closer Jose Valverde, who Washington added to the roster, to get the ball in the ninth if the AL has the lead rather than younger relievers like Cleveland's Chris Perez.

"Without Mariano there, I wanted to make sure that I have a veteran that can handle whatever pressures that the game may offer," Washington said. "That's why I chose Valverde. So I protected myself in that way."

If the NL has a lead in the ninth, Bochy plans to go to a familiar face, choosing his closer with the Giants, Brian Wilson. He also has the Padres' Heath Bell, and if he is not afraid to go the inexperienced route, he could use Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel, who leads the league with 28 saves and sports a 2.35 ERA.

"I tell you right now, that [I'm] definitely leaning towards Brian Wilson closing the game," Bochy said. "He went three days without a day off, and he pitched [Sunday], so I will check on him [Monday]. That was part of my reasoning for taking Kimbrel over [Tommy] Hanson. I wanted another reliever down there to help out late in the ballgame."

MLB.com Comments