07/03/11 2:20 PM ET
Bautista tops all to earn starting All-Star nod
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
Bautista took over the top spot when the first round of results were released on May 31, and never looked back. He finished with 7,454,753 votes, which surpassed the previous high mark of 6,069,688, set by Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. in 1994.
"It's amazing," Bautista said shortly after hearing the results. "I appreciate the fans and all the support. Obviously, I've been getting a lot of votes from different territories.
"I can't even describe how good that feels."
Bautista becomes the first Blue Jays player voted into the All-Star Game since Carlos Delgado in 2003. He is the ninth player in the club's 34-year history to receive the honor, with Roberto Alomar leading the way with three starts from 1991-93.
This will be Bautista's second consecutive appearance at an All-Star Game, but he said this one means even more because of the support he has received.
"Knowing that I'm going to get to start, it's an even bigger accomplishment than making it last year," Bautista said. "I had a good feeling about it. Obviously, I got off to a good start, and having been through last year I knew I was going to be on everybody's radar.
"But it has been great. It has been a fun year so far, and it's going to be another honor to represent the team and two countries, the Dominican and Canada."
The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be played on July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. It will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. 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.
Bautista entered Sunday with a Major League-leading 26 home runs. He was able to accomplish that feat, despite missing eight games earlier this season, by averaging a homer every 10.46 at-bats.
Those numbers earned him a selection to the State Farm Home Run Derby for the first time in his career. He was picked by American League captain David Ortiz after being snubbed in 2010 despite leading the Majors in home runs with 24 at the break.
In recent years, some players have declined invitations to participate in the Derby because it can cause problems with their mechanics. Philadelphia's Bobby Abreu won the competition in 2005, but went on to hit just six home runs the rest of the year.
That won't cause any sleepless nights for Bautista, because he doesn't plan on making any changes to his approach at the plate.
"I'll take it just like batting practice," Bautista said. "It's a one-day thing, it happens once. I'm not superstitious, and I don't think it's going to mess up my swing.
"I'm not going to go there and try to change my swing for the sake of hitting more home runs. I'm just going to go out there and have fun, hopefully hit some out. If I win, great. If not, it will be a great experience."
Bautista also entered play Sunday ranking first in walks (70), on-base percentage (.471), slugging (.679) and OPS (1.150). In the American League, he was first in times on base (160), second in runs scored (64), total bases (182) and extra-base hits (41).
He was helped, in part, by a campaign the Blue Jays' marketing team put together earlier this year. "Vote Jose" lawn signs have been visible across the city, while Bautista's teammates often walk around in T-shirts emblazoned with the same slogan.
That initiative helped increase voter awareness across Canada, but Bautista also likely received help from a high turnout in the United States and in his home country of the Dominican Republic.
Bautista will find himself in a unique situation when the All-Star Game rolls around. He will start in the outfield despite officially switching to third base in late June.
The eight-year veteran was the lone Blue Jays player named to the All-Star Game. It marks the first year Toronto will have just one player going to the game since 2008, when Roy Halladay was the lone representative.
Fans, having already decided the starters, this week will have the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 7. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Msg&Data Rates May Apply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. Std rates may apply.
On July 12, fans once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
Left-hander Ricky Romero missed out on his opportunity to join Bautista, despite throwing quality starts in 14 of his 17 outings this season. He likely was hurt by a 7-7 record, but his 2.75 ERA ranks eighth among AL starters, while his 118 innings rank sixth.
"I'm feeling a bit disappointed that Ricky didn't make it," Bautista said. "It's more the manager's choice, but playing behind him, I feel like he has pitched like an All-Star.
"He definitely deserves to be in there, even though his wins and losses record might not reflect it. But his ERA does, his innings pitched, strikeouts, the way he holds runners, his WHIP, everything. He's an All-Star in my eyes, and hopefully he gets to go somehow, between now and the game."
Adam Lind also has posted impressive numbers so far this season by hitting .306 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs entering play Sunday. He faced stiff competition at first base from Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, New York's Mark Teixeira, and Boston's Adrian Gonzalez. Lind wasn't helped by the fact that he missed 24 games earlier this year with a lower back injury.
Bautista will be joined at the All-Star Game by John Farrell. The Toronto manager was named to the American League coaching staff by Texas skipper -- and former teammate -- Ron Washington.