MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' Ryan Braun is proud to be an All-Star, whether he starts the game in the outfield or on the bench.Braun was not elected a starter by the fans for the first time in five years, but instead made the team via the player ballot as a National League reserve. He still could start if good buddy Matt Kemp's still-healing hamstring forces the Dodgers star to sit out, but Braun insisted that doesn't matter. "One way or the other, it looks like I could have a pretty decent chance of getting in there," he said. "But when you're an All-Star, you're an All-Star. It's an extremely difficult thing to do. I was told earlier today that I've had as many All-Star appearances as anyone who's played for the Brewers, and that just puts in perspective how difficult it is. Look at all the great players who have played for this organization -- Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Jim Gantner, Gorman Thomas, Cecil Cooper -- all these guys who have played here and nobody's ever made more than five All-Star teams."
Braun, Cooper and Molitor share the club record with five All-Star nods.Braun was in the running to be voted a starter in the final round of balloting results last week, but he was knocked out of the top three by Giants fans, who boosted Melky Cabrera all the way to the top of the list of NL outfielders, made catcher Buster Posey the top NL vote-getter, secured a start at third base for Pablo Sandoval and nearly pushed shortstop Brandon Crawford into the lineup. Braun lauded that effort. "Whoever is involved in the San Francisco election process needs to contact the Barack Obama re-election team, and maybe get ahold of Mitt Romney," Braun joked. "The surge in the polls was spectacular." He wouldn't say whether Kemp, the captain of the NL Home Run Derby team, extended an invitation for that event. Kemp will swing for the fences alongside Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals and Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies. "I enjoy watching the Derby, so I'm excited to watch those guys," Braun said. But did Kemp ask? "I'm just excited to watch," Braun said. He only briefly addressed what his All-Star selection meant in light of an offseason spent fighting a 50-game suspension. He won an appeal, then returned to the field and put up first-half numbers nearly identical to those he posted last season on the way to the NL MVP Award. In one category, Braun has been even better: He entered Monday with 22 home runs, tops in the NL. "I said from the beginning of the year, the most important thing for me to do to move beyond everything was to have success on the field," Braun said. "That was the single most important thing I could do. "But the goal is not have success for the first half, or the first few months. The goal is to be successful all year and for the next 10-12 years. I've started off headed in the right direction, and the goal is to continue to do those things."