Shohei Ohtani Becomes 2-way All-Star for 3rd Straight Year; 8 Braves Selected for July 11 Game
11:00 JST, July 3, 2023
NEW YORK (AP) — Shohei Ohtani became a two-way All-Star for the third straight year when he was picked for the American League pitching staff on Sunday, and eight Atlanta Braves were chosen for the July 11 game in Seattle — the most of any team since 2012.
Ohtani was elected to the pitching staff by players 10 days after fans voted him to start at designated hitter. Ohtani appeared on the most ballots among AL players. He is the only two-way All-Star in major league history.
“He’s very respectful. He doesn’t do a whole bunch of talking,” AL manager Dusty Baker of Houston said. “He comes to play, and he really handles the notoriety and the publicity with humility and greatness.”
At the 2021 game in Denver, Ohtani grounded out against Max Scherzer and Corbin Burnes, and pitched a perfect first inning, retiring Fernando Tatis Jr. on a flyout and Max Muncy and Nolan Arenado on groundouts.
Last year at Dodger Stadium, Ohtani singled on Clayton Kershaw’s first pitch of the game and walked against Joe Musgrove. Ohtani didn’t pitch.
Atlanta outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., shortstop Orlando Arcia and catcher Sean Murphy were elected to the National League starting lineup by fans. They will be joined by five Braves teammates voted in by fellow players: starting pitchers Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder, first baseman Matt Olson, second baseman Ozzie Albies and third baseman Austin Riley.
Atlanta is a major league-best 56-27 after winning 23 of its last 26 games.
“To have eight guys, it’s awesome,” Riley said.
The contingent includes Atlanta’s entire starting infield, a proud accomplishment for Braves coach Ron Washington.
“Washington said this is probably the most emotional day of his career because all of his infielders went to the All-Star Game,” Albies said.
The previous team with eight All-Stars was the 2012 Texas Rangers. It was the first time an NL club had eight picks since the 2008 Chicago Cubs.
Atlanta is the first club with six position players since Boston in 2008.
Texas has six All-Stars this year and the Dodgers five.
Arizona rookie outfielder Corbin Carroll, a Seattle native elected to start, is the youngest All-Star at 22. Dodgers designated hitter J.D. Martinez is the oldest at 35.
Twenty-six players are first-time All-Stars. Angels center fielder Mike Trout has the most All-Star selections with 11, making his 10th trip as a starter.
Starting pitchers Zac Gallen, Kershaw and Marcus Stroman also were voted to the NL staff along with relievers Alexis Díaz, Camilo Doval and Josh Hader.
NL reserves voted in by players included catcher Will Smith, shortstop Dansby Swanson, outfielders Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Nick Castellanos, and designated hitter Jorge Soler.
MLB had six NL picks, using five for players on teams still without All-Stars: pitchers Josiah Gray, Mitch Keller, Justin Steele and Devin Williams along with first baseman Pete Alonso and catcher Elias Diaz.
Starting pitchers Gerrit Cole, Nathan Eovaldi, Sonny Gray and Shane McClanahan were voted by players to the AL staff along with Ohtani. The relievers elected by fellow players were Felix Bautista, Yennier Cano and Emmanuel Clase.
AL reserves elected by players included catcher Adley Rutschman, first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., second baseman Whit Merrifield, shortstop Bo Bichette, third baseman José Ramírez and outfielders Yordan Alvarez, Adolis García and Austin Hays, and designated hitter Brent Rooker.
“There’s a really cool picture of me hitting a homer off Shohei in Anaheim, and I’m going to approach him very humbly and try to get him to sign it,” Rooker said. “That’s something that I would like to have forever. If there’s anybody doubting that he’s the best baseball player of all-time, I don’t really know why they are. He could be the front-page story in every newspaper every day and it wouldn’t be talked about enough what he’s doing from an offensive and pitching standpoint.”
MLB used five of its seven AL picks for players whose teams were not already represented, selecting Luis Castillo of the host Mariners along with fellow pitchers Kevin Gausman, Kenley Jansen, Michael Lorenzen and Framber Valdez, plus catcher Salvador Perez and outfielder Luis Robert Jr.
Seattle outfielder and hometown favorite Julio Rodríguez was omitted, though AL injury replacements likely will be selected for Alvarez and Aaron Judge. Rodríguez has already committed to participating in the Home Run Derby.
Other notable players left off despite excellent numbers included Tatis, Rays shortstop Wander Franco and Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte.
Keller, a 27-year-old Pittsburgh right-hander, became an All-Star in his fifth season. Two years ago he was pitching for Triple-A Indianapolis at the time of the All-Star Game and last year he was demoted to the bullpen for two weeks in May.
“Them having the most confidence in me the last two or three years is really cool and everyone sticking with me and showing me their support and giving me their love, it’s been awesome,” Keller said of his Pirates teammates.
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