Bautista tops final all-star voting
Blue Jays leader 1st Toronto player chosen directly to team since 2003
Jose Bautista is the people's choice heading into the all-star game.
The Toronto Blue Jays slugger received a record 7,454,753 fan votes ahead of the annual game at Chase Field in Phoenix on July 12.
Bautista's total surpassed the previous mark of 6,069,688 set by Ken Griffey Jr. in 1994.
Bautista is the first Blue Jay to lead voting for the game and the first Toronto player to be voted to the game since first baseman Carlos Delgado in 2003.
"It's crazy," he said before Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies. "It's a good feeling, something I'll never forget. Hopefully I can keep improving every year."
New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson was second with 6,683,877 votes.
Bautista homered Saturday off Philadelphia's Roy Halladay, then hit his major league-leading 27th homer Sunday against Cliff Lee.
The home run in the eighth inning put the Blue Jays into a 5-4 lead and they went on to win 7-4. Bautista has now hit a home run in three consecutive games for the second time this year.
Bautista is averaging a homer every 10.07 at-bats and lead the majors with an on-base percentage of .471 and slugging percentage at .688 after going 2-for-4 Sunday. He is batting .331 with 56 RBIs.
"He's definitely amazing player," said Blue Jays centre-fielder Rajai Davis. "He's learned so much over the time that he's been here with Toronto. He seems to get better and better. He's just consistent. He's always looking to help out his teammates."
Bautista has played most of the season in right field but was moved to third base last Tuesday to help give the team more offence from the position.
"I got a lot of votes from different territories so it's a good feeling," Bautista said. "People are recognizing that you're doing well and for me it's been in three different territories, the United States and Canada and the Dominican. I can't even describe how good that feels."
Bautista, 30, is a native of the Dominican Republic.
He was added to the team last season when he went on to lead the majors with 54 home runs, but this year being voted in was more special for him.
"Definitely," he said. "And knowing that I'm probably going to get the start, it's even a bigger accomplishment than just making it last year. I had a good feeling about it, obviously I got off to a good start. Having been there last year, I knew I was going to be on everybody's radar.
"It's been great. It's been a fun year so far and it's going to be another honour to represent the team and two countries, the Dominican and Canada, in the all-star game."
Bautista will be joined by Jays manager John Farrell, who was picked by Texas manager Ron Washington to join him on the American League bench for the all-star game.
New York Yankee catcher Russell Martin of Chelsea, Que., is on the AL team as a reserve. He's batting .223 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs.
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto of Toronto made the National League team as a reserve. He took a .316 batting average into Sunday with 12 homers, 51 RBIs with a .436 on-base percentage.
The AL starting lineup: Adrian Gonzalez at first base, Robinson Cano at second, Derek Jeter at shortstop, Alex Rodriguez at third base, with Bautista, Josh Hamilton and Granderson in the outfield, Alex Avila behind the plate and David Ortiz at designated hitter.
The NL starters: Prince Fielder at first, Rickie Weeks at second, Jose Reyes at short, Placido Polanco at third, with Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp and Lance Berkman in the outfield and Brian McCann catching. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy will choose the DH.
Fans can vote on MLB.com through Thursday for the 34th player on each side. Injuries are sure to impact the final rosters, too — three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols was left off while recovering from a broken left wrist and Reyes is nursing a hamstring problem.
Once again, the league that wins will get home-field advantage in the World Series. Led by Brian McCann, the NL won last year for the first time since 1996.
Phillies aces Lee, Cole Hamels and Halladay were part of the 13-man NL staff. Philadelphia has the best record in the majors. The World Series champion San Francisco Giants put four pitchers on the squad: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Brian Wilson and Ryan Vogelsong.
Among two themes sure to draw attention at the all-star game are the heat — it was 47 Celsius in Phoenix this week and even though the ballpark has a retractable roof, some of the festivities are outdoors — and Arizona's immigration law.
The law requires immigrants to carry their registration documents and police who are enforcing other laws to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally. Last year, several all-stars said they would boycott the game if picked.
Atlanta pitcher Jair Jurrjens, a first-time all-star and a native of Curacao, said the Arizona politics were not a concern to him.
"I don't try to think about stuff I don't have control of. They need to do what they need to do to make it safe for the people. If they need to do that under the law, everybody knows a lot of people do bad stuff and they're just trying to be safe," he said.
Bautista said he was disappointed that teammate Ricky Romero had not been selected for the game. The left-hander is 7-7 with a 2.75 earned-run average and his won-lost record has suffered because of a lack of run support.
"Obviously it's more the manager's choice but playing behind him feel like he's pitched like an all-star," said Bautista. "He definitely deserves being there even though his wins and losses record might not reflect it. His ERA does, his innings pitched, his strikeouts, the way he holds runners, his WHIP, everything, he's an all-star in my eyes and hopefully he gets to go somehow."
Bautista has not heard officially whether he will be in the home run derby on the day before the game, but it seems likely he will be. He was overlooked for the contest last year.
"I'll take it just like batting practice," he 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 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 and hopefully hit some out. If I win it'll be great, if not it'll be a great experience."