KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brad Boxberger didn't really have an idea why pitching coach Jim Hickey summoned him to manager Kevin Cash's office Monday afternoon, wondering if given the forecast for heavy rain — which eventually wiped out the game — maybe they were toying with having him start.
But then when Chris Archer walked in a moment later, Boxberger's mind started racing a different direction.
"Then I was like, okay, this could be a good meeting," Boxberger said.
While Archer had been widely considered a sure choice for the American League All-Star team, Boxberger hadn't given his own chances much thought after seeing the quality of relievers on the players ballot he cast last week.
But Cash had doubly good news:
Not only was Archer elected to the team by his peers, but Boxberger was one of four relievers chosen by AL/Royals manager Ned Yost.
"Shocked," Boxberger said. "I didn't really expect it coming so I'm still trying to let it sink in and see how it goes."
And — perhaps even more shocking — was how the normally stoic Boxberger reacted.
"Boxberger showed emotion," Cash said. "Archer, you can obviously assume showed emotion, but Box was pumped. He was smiling. He was excited."
Though Archer expected to be on the team, he said being joined by Boxberger made it even better and getting voted in by the players more meaningful.
"There's no words to describe how special this is," Archer said. "It's one of the first times in my life where I've gotten the proper recognition, in my opinion, outside of my teammates.
"Obviously my main focus is for my teammates to know I'm capable of. But when the league knows, it takes it to a whole 'nother level. And I'm very appreciative of all the different media outlets that helped me get noticed."
Archer, 26, could have an even bigger honor coming, as he is one of the candidates Yost will consider to start.
His 9-5 record, 2.18 ERA (third in the AL entering playing Monday), 141 strikeouts (tied for first), .196 opponents average (tied for first) all make for a good case, as does a schedule that has him pitching Wednesday — against Yost's Royals — then being on full rest for the July 14 game in Cincinnati. Houston's Dallas Keuchel and Chicago's Chris Sale are considered the other top candidates to start, though both are scheduled to start on Saturday. Yost said scheduling would be a factor.
"That would obviously be the icing on the cake," Archer said. "I don't want to be greedy by any means, but at this point in the season, 18 starts in, I feel like I've done everything I possibly can, and now it's out of my hands. There are other guys that are extremely worthy as well. I'm not going to be upset either way. I'm happy to be one of the very select few that are going to be in Cincinnati."
So, too, is Boxberger, who is 4-4 with a 2.48 ERA and 20 saves (fourth in the AL) in 22 chances. He was a first-round pick of the Reds in 2009 but was traded two years later to the Padres, then two years later to the Rays.
Boxberger, 27, admitted that he voted for himself last week, and tried to drum up some support among his teammates. "I was trying to pass out candy to whoever," he joked.
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Cash said he was pleased to be the bearer of good news for a change.
"Obviously, both of them are very much deserving," he said. "Both of them, what they've done from Day 1, kind of interesting that you got the guy at the back end, you got the guy at the front end, and they're a big part of the reason we've had success. It was probably the best conversation I've had in this office."
Even better, Archer said, would be for him to start and Boxberger to close out the game.
"That would be ideal," Archer said. "That would be beautiful."
Contact Marc Topkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.