07/09/09 5:15 PM ET
Youth accents Tigers' All-Star selectees
Verlander, Jackson, Granderson comprise under-30 trio
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson, whose pitching has been a big reason for Detroit's lead atop the American League Central, will join center fielder and leadoff man Curtis Granderson at the Midsummer Classic on July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. They got a fourth All-Star on Thursday, as Detroit put together enough votes for Brandon Inge to win the Sprint Final Vote.
The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
All three sure All-Stars were selected by player balloting, which took place last week. It's the second time in three years that the Tigers have at least a trio of players involved. But unlike their World Series followup in 2007, only one of Detroit's All-Stars this year has been there before, and only Inge is older than 28.
"It's an accomplishment," said Jackson, an All-Star at age 25 after spending the past few years trying to establish himself as a big league starter. "Being an All-Star, it's the best of the best out there playing, and it's also a lot of fun. It's not something that happens every day. You have to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself and enjoy it."
Verlander is the one Tigers All-Star who has been there before, having made the team in 2007. His return was widely expected, recognizing a year in which last season's AL leader in losses has reversed his fortunes to again become one of baseball's nastiest starting pitchers.
With a fastball that has frequently topped out around 100 mph and a devastating curveball, Verlander leads the American League with 130 strikeouts, 44 of them in a four-start stretch in early May that started him on a winning streak of seven straight decisions.
Just because the 26-year-old has been there before, though, doesn't change his feeling.
"I'm pretty excited," Verlander said. "Last time was such a whirlwind, I hardly had time to relax and enjoy it. This time, I'm going to try to just kind of have fun and take it all in."
While Verlander seemed likely to make it, Jackson appeared to be on the bubble. He has been one of baseball's deceptive cases where the wins and losses don't reflect how well he has pitched. His 2.59 ERA ranks second only to Zack Greinke among AL starters, and he's also second in hits allowed per nine innings and WHIP.
Yet with one of the lowest run-support averages in the league, Jackson owns a 6-4 record, and the Tigers are 9-8 in his starts. He's winless in his past five starts since June 1, but an All-Star appearance is a recognition by the players of his obstacles, not to mention the emergence he has had since coming to Detroit via trade from Tampa Bay last winter.
"The record -- wins and losses -- sometimes you can't control those things," Jackson said. "They understand how the game is. The game's crazy sometimes. You can pitch real good and your record not necessarily show it. But they understand the game, and they understand everything that's going on around the records. It's a great feeling, exciting, and I'm ready to be a part of it."
Jackson's selection means he'll again be managed by Joe Maddon, who managed him with the Rays last year and will lead this year's AL All-Stars.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," Jackson said. "Joe, as a manager, he shows a lot of emotion, but it's in a different kind of way. He's happy all the time with smiles on his face. He keeps everybody loose in the clubhouse. It's going to be a lot of fun to go back and play with him managing again."
Granderson seemingly had a case to make the team in 2007, when he became one of just four Major Leaguers in history to post at least 20 doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases in the same season. This year, the 28-year-old's homer power, speed and defensive prowess put him onto the roster in a crowded AL outfield.
Halfway through the season, Granderson projects for a potential 30-homer, 30-steal season. His 18 home runs stand tied for the team and 10th in the league to go with a .256 batting average and 43 RBIs.
Defensively, only Torii Hunter among AL center fielders has more putouts without an error this year than Granderson's 189. His highlights include a game-saving catch at the fence to rob Grady Sizemore of what would've been a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning of a 1-0 win May 8 at Cleveland.
Granderson kind of feels like he had a comparable steal here. He still doesn't feel comfortable at the plate, he said again Sunday, and he felt confident enough he wasn't going that he booked his flight back home to Chicago for the break. Even still, he's enjoying a fine season.
"It's just a comparison to everybody who has done it and all the guys in the outfield this year," he said. "When you start going across the names -- [Carl] Crawford and Torii Hunter and Ichiro -- somehow my name gets to be mentioned in the same breath as all those guys, at least for a day. [It's] very exciting. I'm honored, and I can't help but say I'm surprised."
For many, if the Tigers were going to get a position player as an All-Star, Inge or Miguel Cabrera seemed the likely candidates. But Cabrera was battling a tough field at first base, and Michael Young earned the player-ballot nod at third.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.