07/02/06 8:35 PM ET
Three Braves bound for Pittsburgh
McCann, Andruw, Renteria get nods for National League squad
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Before Sunday afternoon's game against the Orioles, McCann, Jones and Renteria were all informed that they had been selected to represent the National League at this year's All-Star Game, which will be played on July 11 at Pittsburgh's PNC Park.
"I didn't want to go by myself," said the 22-year-old McCann. "I'm glad Renteria and Andruw are going. I'm going to try to follow them around. They've been to many of these. I'm just going to go out and observe the best players in the game."
While this marks McCann's first All-Star selection, it's the fifth for both Jones and Renteria. All three earned this year's inclusion on the NL team because of the respect shown to them on the Players Ballot -- a vote of the league's players managers and coaches.
"I think it's all what you see," Jones said. "I mean, you play against them and they actually get the chance to vote a few players in, and they picked my name. The best thing is to go out there and get to represent the Atlanta Braves."
With the Braves enduring one their worst seasons since 1990, there was some thought that they may get just one selection. But through the Players Ballot, it was obvious many thought McCann, Jones and Renteria were all deserving.
Jones received the fourth-most votes (427) among NL outfielders, trailing only Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano, who were all voted as the starters by fans. Renteria's 203 votes were second among NL shortstops, trailing only Jose Reyes, who will make his first start.
As for McCann, it was obvious that his peers weren't willing to penalize him for the fact that he missed nearly three weeks because of a sprained left ankle he suffered on May 20. His 218 votes were surpassed only by Paul Lo Duca, who will also be getting his first start in an All-Star Game.
"I am really happy for [McCann]," Jones said. "I think he deserves to be there. He's had a tremendous year. I think if he didn't got hurt then he would be starting there." McCann's .354 batting average ranks second, only to Minnesota's Joe Mauer, among all Major League catchers with at least 200 plate appearances. Since coming off the disabled list, the 22-year-old Braves backstop has hit .368 (21-for-57) and continued to impress with his defensive skills.
Considering he's in his first full big-league season, the selection was overwhelming for McCann, who made his Major League debut on June 10 of last year. He becomes the third different Braves catcher (Javy Lopez and Johnny Estrada) to earn an All-Star selection in the past four years.
"If you had told me this last year, I would have told you, you were lying," McCann said. "But now to be lucky enough to be an All-Star, it's something. ... It's something kids dream about."
McCann learned of his selection while he was icing his ankle in the trainers room. Cox proudly and slyly delivered him the news.
"He asked me how my ankle felt and I said 'good'" McCann said. "He said, 'Good, because you've got to catch in the All-Star Game.'
"It's something I'll never forget. I'll get to be on the same field with some future Hall of Famers and some of the best players in the game."
Renteria's selection only fortifies the belief that the Braves got a steal when they obtained him from the Red Sox in December. Coming off a somewhat disappointing season in Boston, the veteran shortstop has hit safely in 61 of 71 games and provided a consistent spark in the second spot of the Atlanta lineup.
It didn't take long for Renteria to make his presence in Atlanta known. He hit safely in each of his first 24 games to give him a career-best hitting streak. It was the longest streak to begin a season since 1976, when Detroit's Ron LeFlore opened the season with a 30-game hitting streak.
"I'm really happy," said Renteria, who was the NL's starting shortstop in 2003 and 2004. "It feels good with what I've done so far."
This marks the second straight year that Jones has gained an All-Star selection via the support shown by his peers. Although his numbers aren't as impressive as last year, when he led the Majors with 51 homers and the NL with 128 RBIs, he's still been a consistent run producer and maintained his status as one of the game's premier defenders.
Entering Sunday, Jones was hitting .279 with 18 home runs. His 66 RBIs tied fellow All-Star Carlos Lee for the most among all NL outfielders. The 29-year-old center fielder, who has won eight straight Gold Gloves, has had three hits, including two homers, in his past three All-Star Game at-bats.
"I got voted in by the players and get to represent the Atlanta Braves in the All-Star Game," Jones said. "It's obviously good to go out there and be around the best players in the league and get a chance to talk with them."
As a bonus, he'll have two of his teammates there to share the experience.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.