ST. PETERSBURG — The shock and sting of not being named to the initial All-Star Game roster was difficult for Rays starter Blake Snell, but he said Monday that the outpouring of support from all over was a more positive surprise.
"That was cool. Teammates, family, friends, people that I don't even know," Snell said before Monday's game against Detroit. "To see all of them have my back, I really didn't know that many people knew of who I was. That's special to me. Having people reach out to me, text message, calling, direct messaging me. It was overwhelming. It was special to see that all these people really care."
Rays catcher Wilson Ramos will be starting for the American League next week, but the bigger headline Sunday was Snell being snubbed despite having a compelling statistical case to be among those honored.
"It's frustrating, for sure," said Snell, passed over despite leading the American League with a 2.09 ERA and being tied for second with 12 wins. "I thought I did a lot of things I needed to do to be a good candidate to represent the Rays. I'm frustrated, but I think I made a good case … I feel like I earned it."
Snell echoed a criticism many have had in saying that All-Star voting should take place later in the season. He's 4-0 with a 0.63 ERA since player ballots were due, so extending the window for evaluating options would have helped him.
Rays manager Kevin Cash, who will serve on A.J. Hinch's AL staff for the game, said he was "optimistic" that Snell would be added to the roster, but that he deserved the honor of being among the initial names announced.
"I'm disappointed, in fairness, but I'm optimistic that things are going to work out OK for Blake," Cash said. "I think there's a lot of us throughout baseball that feel he's deserving. I don't think that I need to sit here and defend him. He defends himself by what he does every fifth day for us."
Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said he was at a loss for words when he first learned Sunday that Snell had been snubbed.
"Really mad. Disappointed. Disgusted. All of the above," Kiermaier said. "It's a joke, honestly. I was literally at a loss for words yesterday when I found out. I was so mad. All of us, we're all in the same boat for him."
Contact Greg Auman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @gregauman