SEATTLE — Already elected as a starting outfielder for the All-Star Game, Randy Arozarena also will get his much-desired chance to participate in the Home Run Derby.
Major League Baseball announced his selection on Saturday; he is the fourth of eight players in the field. Before hitting his 15th homer in Friday’s game, Arozarena made his case, saying “I deserve to be there.”
When he got an email Saturday morning with the news, he was predictably thrilled.
“I feel very happy for the opportunity to be able to participate in a home run derby,” Arozarena said, via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “It’s always been a goal of mine; also being in the All-Star Game itself.
“Everyone knows I like to hit home runs. So that’s another reason why I wanted to be able to participate.”
Manager Kevin Cash expects Arozarena to put on a show.
“I know that was a big motivator; he’s excited about it,” Cash said. “I can feel very confident saying he will be very entertaining. I know that fans enjoy watching Randy. I enjoy watching Randy. He’s got that ‘It factor’ and this is just another level.”
With first baseman Yandy Diaz also a starter, the Rays will learn Sunday if any others will return to Seattle for the July 11 game. Pitchers and reserves, chosen by a league-wide vote of players, and some by MLB officials, will be announced at 5:30 p.m.
In addition to McClanahan, the Rays player with the next best shot is shortstop Wander Franco, who leads all American League players and is second overall behind Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr., with a 4.3 WAR, per baseball-reference.com. Franco went into play Saturday hitting .285 with nine homers, 40 RBIs, .810 OPS and 26 steals.
“He should be an All-Star,” Cash said.
Other Rays candidates include infielder Isaac Paredes, outfielders Josh Lowe and Luke Raley, and starter Zach Eflin.
”I know there’s other players, really good players, that have done good things throughout and across the American League,” Cash said. “But we feel like we’ve got plenty of guys that should at least be in the conversation.”
The record for Rays All-Stars is five at the 2009 game managed by Joe Maddon.
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