ST. PETERSBURG — Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge planned to spend the All-Star break at Disney, and was enjoying dinner Monday night with his wife, Tobey, and their son, Brooks, at the Rainforest Cafe.
Then Rays manager Kevin Cash called from Denver with stunning news that changed their plans: Kittredge was being added to the American League All-Star team and would be flying west in the morning for Tuesday night’s game.
For those who thought Rays catcher Mike Zunino and infielder Joey Wendle were unlikely All-Stars, say hello to Kittredge.
The 31-year-old came to camp on a minor-league deal after being dropped from the Rays’ 40-man roster. He missed much of last season with an elbow injury that looked to need Tommy John surgery, but he worked extensively to rehab it. And he spent the previous three seasons bouncing between the Rays and Triple-A Durham after being acquired from Seattle in November 2016.
And this year?
Kittredge has been one of the most successful relievers in the majors, positing a 6-1 record, two saves and a 1.47 ERA in 32 games, with 43 strikeouts in 43 innings, and 10 of his last 11 appearances scoreless.
He also is one of the most versatile pitchers, working in every inning from one (having been an opener four times) through 11.
That’s what led to Monday’s call from Cash, who is managing the AL team. Kittredge and Minnesota’s Taylor Rogers were named replacements for Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole and Seattle’s Yusei Kikuchi, who will be inactive.
“Kitt was a guy that we certainly were lobbying for,’' Cash said from Denver. “His numbers speak for themselves. He doesn’t have the saves that some of these closers have, but I don’t know if you could say that anybody has been more valuable to a bullpen. So extremely worthy of the honor.’'
Though not in uniform, Rays outfielder Brett Phillips, the Seminole native, is also in Denver. Phillips, who was on the field for Monday’s Home Run Derby, will host coverage on MLB’s Instagram account Tuesday. He also is launching a “Baseball is Fun” T-shirt line.
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