Altuve selected to play in first All-Star Game
Astros second baseman an NL reserve a year after playing in Futures Game
CHICAGO -- It was barely a year ago that Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was terrorizing pitchers in Class A ball, a relative unknown who was recognized more for his 5-foot-5 height than his ability to swing a mighty bat.
The whole nation will get introduced to Altuve when he plays for the National League in the 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 10 in Kansas City. Altuve was the only Astros player chosen to be part of the team that will be managed by Tony La Russa, getting selected as a reserve.
Altuve, who played in the All-Star Futures Game just a year ago, was voted in by player balloting. He returned to the lineup Sunday for the Astros at Wrigley Field after missing a week with a strained right hamstring and went 1-for-4 with a single in Houston's 3-0 loss to the Cubs.
National League roster
|C||Buster Posey, SF|
|1B||Joey Votto, CIN|
|2B||Dan Uggla, ATL|
|SS||Rafael Furcal, STL|
|3B||Pablo Sandoval, SF|
|OF||Melky Cabrera, SF|
|OF||Carlos Beltran, STL|
|OF||Matt Kemp, LAD|
|RHP||Matt Cain, SF|
|LHP||Aroldis Chapman, CIN|
|RHP||R.A. Dickey, NYM|
|LHP||Gio Gonzalez, WAS|
|LHP||Cole Hamels, PHI|
|RHP||Joel Hanrahan, PIT|
|LHP||Clayton Kershaw, LAD|
|RHP||Craig Kimbrel, ATL|
|RHP||Lance Lynn, STL|
|LHP||Wade Miley, ARI|
|RHP||Jonathan Papelbon, PHI|
|RHP||Stephen Strasburg, WAS|
|RHP||Huston Street, SD|
|C||Yadier Molina, STL|
|C||Carlos Ruiz, PHI|
|1B||Bryan LaHair, CHC|
|2B||Jose Altuve, HOU|
|SS||Starlin Castro, CHC|
|SS||Ian Desmond, WAS|
|3B||David Wright, NYM|
|OF||Ryan Braun, MIL|
|OF||Jay Bruce, CIN|
|OF||Carlos Gonzalez, COL|
|OF||Andrew McCutchen, PIT|
|OF||Giancarlo Stanton, MIA|
The chance to represent the Astros in the Midsummer Classic is something he doesn't take lightly.
"That was really good," Altuve said. "I was a little nervous when [manager Brad] Mills started talking about representing [at] the All-Star Game. I feel really happy right now. I'm going to try to do the best I can to represent."
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. (EDT)/6:30 p.m. (CDT). ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
Mills gathered the Astros in the clubhouse prior to the game and announced Altuve had made the All-Star team, and his teammates gave him a round of applause.
"That's always fun," Mills said. "A guy like Altuve, the first half he's had and the way he's played has been pretty good. It's nice that he gets rewarded like that."
Altuve, 22, is hitting .308 (89-for-289) with 18 doubles, five home runs and 23 RBIs in 72 games. He currently leads all NL second basemen in batting average and hits, despite missing the previous six games with a hamstring injury. He has 30 multihit games this season, which ranks tied for fourth in the Major Leagues.
"It's always going to be a surprise for you going to the All-Star Game," he said. "That's an important moment for you. I wasn't sure I was going. I thank God for that. I'll try to do the best I can."
Altuve is no stranger to All-Star Games, having played in the XM All-Star Futures Game last year, the South Atlantic League All-Star Game (Class A) in 2010 and the Appalachian League All-Star Game (Rookie Level) in 2009.
Altuve is now one of just nine players to make the Major League All-Star team one season after playing in the Futures Game, joining Adam Dunn, Neftali Feliz, Jason Heyward, Francisco Liriano, Evan Longoria, Ben Sheets, Geovany Soto and Mike Trout.
When asked what he's looking forward to the most about the All-Star Game, Altuve said watching the Home Run Derby.
"I can't wait to play in the game, but something I want to be on is the grass in the Home Run Derby," he said. "I used to watch that on TV since I was a little kid. I'm going to be sitting out there rooting for my team."
The fact Altuve has proven to be a hitting machine at the Major League level isn't surprising when you consider his eye-popping Minor League numbers. He combined to hit .301 with 15 homers, 67 RBIs and 42 stolen bases at Class A stops Lexington and Lancaster in his first full-season assignments in 2010.
Altuve began last season in Lancaster and batted a whopping .408 in 52 games before getting promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi. He was hitting .361 in 35 games with the Hooks when Houston called him up on July 19 to be the starter at second base after it traded Jeff Keppinger.
Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez, who played with Altuve at Rookie level Greeneville and joined him in making the jump from Double-A to the Astros last July, was beaming with pride for his long-time friend.
"That was awesome," Martinez said. "I was rooting for him the whole time. I was really proud. I was with him when he got called up and now for this. I'm just happy I can see him grow as a player since we were in Greeneville together."