At spring training, it would have been hard to believe that the Mariners in July would be disappointed at the selection of three players as American League All-Stars. But after a 57-34 start to the season, the absences of pitcher James Paxton and SS Jean Segura were almost as bleak as the selections of DH Nelson Cruz, closer Edwin Diaz and RF Mitch Haniger were joyful.
“Certainly we are well represented,” manager Scott Servais told reporters after the rosters were announced for the July 17 game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. “Quite frankly, I’m just shocked that Jean Segura wasn’t on it. And James Paxton.
“I go back to that no-hitter and what he did for our team and just energizing our team. He’s really carried our starting rotation. Pax and Jean, not getting in, it’s tough. There’s a lot of good players in the league, and I explained it to those guys. They get it.”
Segura, however, still has a shot. He was named as one of five players for the AL Final Vote by fans for the 32nd roster spot, a first for a Mariner. The club is encouraging fans to vote online by the deadline of 1 p.m. Wednesday.
“I certainly hope our fans step up,” Servais said. “People around the Pacific Northwest: Put your votes in ,because Jean really deserves to go.”
He has some serious competition, especially from big-market teams: Boston OF Andrew Benintendi, SS Andrelton Simmons of Anaheim, OF Giancarlo Stanton of New York and OF Eddie Rosario of Minnesota.
Paxton also has an outside chance if one of the selected pitchers does not pitch.
Complete rosters are here for the 89th All-Star Game (5 p.m. PT, FOX).
The big AL winners were the division-leading Astros, Red Sox and Indians with five selections each. Atlanta led the NL with four.
In Diaz and Haniger, the Mariners have two of the 25 first-timers in the game.
Diaz, 24, has been the game’s top closer with 34 saves, needing 29 more to break the 2008 record set by Francisco Rodriguez. His 0.826 WHIP is testimony to the general futility of batters in the ninth against Seattle.
Haniger, 27, is among AL leaders in several categories — tied for second in RBIs, ninth in walks, tied for 16th in home runs and tied for 15th in OPS. He leads the majors with 13 game-winning RBIs and with 11 home runs in the 7th inning and later. His fly-ball pursuit and throwing arm make him a Gold Glove candidate.
Cruz, 38, has been an All-Star in five of the past six seasons and has been chosen eight times overall. He’s in the AL’s top 10 in home runs, slugging and OPS. He’s been hit by a pitch 10 times, also a top-10 figure.
Two former Mariners made the AL roster: RHP J.A. Happ of Toronto and OF Shin-Soo Choo of Texas.
The Mariners, off Monday, beat Colorado 6-4 Sunday to get one of three from the Rockies. They play three in Anaheim starting Tuesday followed by three more against the Rockies in Denver before the All-Star break.
Mariners have done well! They are on target for the wild card. Houston is another matter. The biggest caveat is the issue with the west, NL and AL. The M’s have to hope their sun does not set in the west. They have 44 games left against west division teams (AL and NL) that have winning records. That’s a lot. But for the wild card they just have to beat those A’s.
I remain the Mariner Optimist for 2018.