Leftfielder Carl Crawford said that during the woeful Devil Rays days, "nobody ever would have thought" they'd have multiple starters in an All-Star Game.
This year, it's a reality.
Crawford and third baseman Evan Longoria were elected starters for the American League All-Star team Sunday, and left-hander David Price was chosen by the players to join the squad for the July 13 game in Anaheim.
Longoria and Crawford were elected in the fan vote, the first time the Rays have had two starters in the same year. They are in line to be the first Rays to start as the two previous elected, Jose Canseco in 1999 and Longoria last year, were sidelined by injury.
"It's awesome," Crawford said. "I'm really at a loss for words, because that's something that always (seemed) so farfetched."
The Rays could have three starters, if Price is picked by Yankees manager Joe Girardi to start.
"It'd be awesome," Price said. "Only two people get to start this game every year, so it'd be a great honor to get that. But I'm grateful just to go."
For Longoria, it'll be his third selection in three big-league seasons, and he'll get the opportunity to play near his hometown in Southern California.
"Like I've always said, an All-Star Game is special, no matter where it is," Longoria said. "But I think extra special would be the word for this one."
This will be Crawford's fourth All-Star appearance but his first start. He was picked by players in 2004 and 2009 and by manager Jim Leyland in 2007.
Crawford finished 223,827 votes ahead of Texas' Nelson Cruz for the third and final spot. He said he watched the weekly voting results updates and was glad "I have the kind of game that the fans actually want to see."
"I think for as long as Carl has been in the big leagues, he's been an All-Star," Longoria said. "It's sad it took this long for all the fans to see and recognize him for how good he is."
Making it more special, Crawford said, is looking back to the old Devil Rays days. "It seemed far away; I didn't ever think I'd get to this point, but just kept at it," he said. "Here we are now. I'm glad I went through those early days to get to now. You don't take it for granted. You feel more proud."
Price, in his first full season, was the top choice of the five starting pitchers voted in by the players, with 290 votes. Boston's Clay Buchholz had 214, New York's Phil Hughes 206, Seattle's Cliff Lee 180 and Boston's Jon Lester 135.
Price, who leads the AL in wins (11) and ERA (2.42), got the news Sunday morning from manager Joe Maddon. "I just said, 'Thank you,'" he said. "Obviously it's a good thing to hear, starting my day off right. I was very grateful. It's not just me; I'm representing the Rays. I couldn't have done it without these guys."
Neither Crawford nor Longoria won the players vote. Crawford finished fourth among the outfielders with 278 votes, behind elected starters Josh Hamilton of Texas (588 votes) and Ichiro Suzuki of Seattle (417) and Toronto's Vernon Wells (344). Longoria was a close second to Boston's Adrian Beltre, 410-392. But because fans pick the starters, players sometimes choose to vote for deserving guys who need help getting in the game.
A case could have been made for closer Rafael Soriano, who picked up his 21st save Sunday in 22 chances. Right-hander Jeff Niemann (6-2, 2.80), another candidate, acknowledged he probably needed more wins.
While Soriano politely declined to comment, Maddon said he didn't understand how he was left off. Soriano still could be added as an injury replacement.
"Soriano definitely should be on this team," Maddon said. "Without him we're not even close to being where we are right now. Furthermore, I think his body of work is as good if not better than any closer in the American League this year. That's the one I really would like to see rectified and he make the team."
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AL voting totals
1. Evan Longoria, 3,977,935
2. Alex Rodriguez, 2,549,161
3. Michael Young, 1,602,846
OUTFIELDERS (TOP 3 STARTERS):
1. Josh Hamilton, 2,840,816
2. Ichiro Suzuki, 2,544,564
3. Carl Crawford, 2,235,597
4. Nelson Cruz, 2,011,770
5. Nick Swisher, 1,883,695