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Rays’ Joey Wendle humbled, thankful for All-Star opportunity

Rays notes | His selection as a replacement for Tuesday’s game was a good surprise for the infielder and the team.
Rays third baseman Joey Wendle doubles on a ground ball in the first inning against the Orioles at Tropicana Field on Saturday.
Rays third baseman Joey Wendle doubles on a ground ball in the first inning against the Orioles at Tropicana Field on Saturday. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]
Published Jul. 10
Updated Jul. 10

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash pushed to get infielder Joey Wendle added to the American League All-Star team, so he figured he might as well have fun sharing the good news when they got word after Friday night’s game.

Cash gathered the team in the clubhouse, then announced:

“Mike Trout was selected for the All-Star Game, but he can’t come. So they wanted the next-best player in the league: Joey Wendle.”

Naturally, Rays players and coaches were thrilled and excited for Wendle, one of the most valuable, versatile, hardest-working and well-liked members of the team.

Typically, Wendle had a low-key reaction to the unexpected honor.

He noted how many other good players around the league and in the Rays clubhouse are deserving of the opportunity. He gave credit to all the people who worked hard to help him get to where he is today. He spoke of how exciting the experience will be for his wife, Lindsey, and their young sons, Jack and Luke, and the rest of their families. He said he hadn’t really even thought of being chosen until a reporter asked him about it Friday.

“So much is just being in the right spot at the right time, and I think that’s part of the reason why I’m there,” Wendle said. “It’s definitely a huge honor for me, and I don’t mean to make light of it. But at the end of the day, somebody got in a room and decided this, and it could have just as easily been somebody else.

“So I try not to take that as the end-all and be-all. I think humbling is the best word — and thankful and excited — that I can come up with for it.”

With three position players — the Astros’ Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley and Carlos Correa — withdrawing from the game for injury or other reasons, Major League Baseball officials named Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield and White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson as replacements based on their finish in the player voting. Then from an assembled list of other candidates, they chose Wendle. (By the way, it’s the first time since 2009 the Rays don’t have an All-Star pitcher.)

Cash, who will be managing the American League team for Tuesday’s game at Coors Field in Denver, made his preference clear.

“I tried, hell, yeah,” Cash said. “He’s our guy. I think that’s how MLB does it — they’re prepared for players for injury or choose not to go. They have a list of guys and, look, they’re all worthy. Anytime you have an All-Star selection, there are going to be some guys that kind of draw the short end of the stick. I’m thrilled that Joey didn’t. And very proud to be able to go and just hang out with him and (previously selected catcher Mike Zunino) for the next couple days.”

Cash, by the way, plans to have more fun with Wendle, starting with sharing his nickname — Mendle, going back to an MLB Network mistake — with the rest of the baseball world.

“It’ll be yelled a lot,” Cash said. “I’m going to get him a jersey that says Mendle on it.”

Miscellany

• Since May 13, the Rays have the majors’ best home (21-4) and overall (34-17) records.

• Triple-A Durham pitcher Shane Baz and Double-A infielder Xavier Edwards will represent the Rays in Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game (3 p.m., MLB Network).

• The Rays on Sunday are allowing kids to run the bases after the game, the first time since the 2019 season.

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