Longoria, Bartlett, Crawford, Zobrist are Tampa Bay Rays All-Stars; Pena could be too

Tampa Bay Rays 3B Evan Longoria will be the American League starter, and teammates LF Carl Crawford, SS Jason Bartlett and INF/OF Ben Zobrist will join him for the July 14 All-Star Game in St. Louis.

1B Carlos Pena could join them as he is one of five players on the Internet ballot for the final spot on the roster, competing with Chone Figgins (Angels), Brandon Inge (Tigers), Ian Kinsler (Rangers) and Adam Lind (Blue Jays). To vote, go to mlb.com.

LHP J.P. Howell was not named to the 13-man pitching staff as Angels reliever Brian Fuentes, who shares the major-league lead with 23 saves, was chosen. Ex-Ray Edwin Jackson, now with Detroit, will be an All-Star, voted in by the players.

"I think it is all well deserved obviously,'' Rays/AL manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm in agreement with all the people that were voted in and I felt, I’m looking at everybody else that was available or eligible and I just felt that zobrist’s numbers stacked up really well. And you have to be careful, you want to be fair to everybody else but then you cannot be unfair to your own group at the same time. I just looked at the whole thing and I felt Ben definitely belonged on the team also.''  

While Longoria was elected by the fans (finishing with 4,315,210 votes, third overall in the AL behind Derek Jeter, who had 4,851,889, and Joe Mauer, 4,335,739). Bartlett and Crawford were voted in by the players - which means they were the next highest votegetters if the players voted for the same starters as the fans. Crawford was fourth on the players' ballot (behind Jason Bay, Torii Hunter and Ichiro Suzuki); Bartlett second (behind Derek Jeter). Zobrist was one of three position players chosen by Maddon. 

Longoria could also be a contestant in the home run derby, though he said he would prefer not to participate. He finished first in the AL in a non-binding fan vote.                  

Longoria, who was one of a then-record three Rays representatives last year (with Dioner Navarro and Scott Kazmir), said he welcomed the company.

"I’m really excited to see Zobrist go, I definitely think he deserved it,'' Longoria said at the team hotel in Arlington, Texas. "He didn’t get the at-bats he needed at the beginning of the year, but you saw when he got the at bats his abilities. And obviously Bartlett should have been a shoo-in from the beginning, hitting .360 through the first half is not an easy thing to do.

"Last year it was kind of a whirlwind experience. ... it was a little different experience because you kind of get lost in New York, but I think it’ll be a better experience this year with the whole staff there.

Crawford has made two previous All-Star appearances, in 2004 and 2007, but is having what may be his best season yet. He leads the majors with 40 stolen bases and ranks third with 104 hits (one of only four players in AL history to reach the 40-100 mark before the All-Star break). He is fifth in the AL with a .318 average.

Bartlett will make his first All-Star appearance. Bartlett, who spent three weeks on the DL, has been having a tremendous offensive season, including a team-record 19-game hitting streak, and has a .362 average that would rank second in the league if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Zobrist, who began the year as a reserve, is in the midst of a spectacular breakout season, with 16 home runs and a 1.015 OPS that is best in the AL. This will be a thrilling trip for him as he grew up relatively near St. Louis in Eureka, Ill., as a huge fan of Cardinals star Ozzie Smith.

Longoria was voted onto last year's All-Star team as the fans' choice for the final spot, but this year has been battling Yankees Derek Jeter for the overall AL lead. He has cooled after a sizzling start, slowed in part by a left hamstring strain, though is still third in the AL with 63 RBIs.

Longoria was honored at his election. “I think it shows a lot about the steps that the team has taken, as far as the fans' eye,'' he said. "And it's definitely a huge honor, obviously with the caliber of third basemen there are in the American League, to be the leading vote getter is just a tremendous honor.”Evan Longoria will be the starting third baseman for the AL in the July 14 All-Star Game.

The other elected AL starters are C Joe Mauer (Twins), 1B Mark Teixeira (Yankees), 2B Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox), and SS Derek Jeter (Yankees).

The NL starters are C Yadier Molina (Cards), 1B Albert Pujols (Cards), 2B Chase Utley (Phillies), SS Hanley Ramirez (Marlins), 3B David Wright (Mets), OFs Carlos Beltran (Mets), Ryan Braun (Brewers) and Raul Ibanez (Phillies). B.J. Upton's brother, Justin, was chosen as an NL reserve.

Longoria won the fan voting as expected, ahead of the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez. The annoucement is being made live on TBS from 1-2.

Rays manager Joe Maddon will manage the AL team. The starters were elected by the fans, then eight of the 13 pitchers and eight reserves were chosen by a vote of the players. Maddon got to fill out the rest of the team, though following the requirement that every team be represented.

The team announced today includes 32 members, with a 33rd to be chosen from five candidates in Internet voting over the next five days.

Longoria was voted onto last year's All-Star team as the fans' choice for the final spot, but this year has been battling Jeter for the overall AL lead. He has cooled after a sizzling start, slowed in part by a left hamstring strain, though is still third in the AL with 63 RBIs.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:48am]

    

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