THREE TIME ALL-STAR—Pirates centerfielders Andrew McCutchen was named to the National League All Star team for his third consecutive season.
“But McCutchen was as excited as anyone else,” Hurdle testified.
Grilli and Alvarez were also picked by their peers. Locke was the only managerial choice, getting Giants and NL skipper Bruce Bochy’s nod.
Alvarez’s power surge made him a first-time All-Star. He began play Saturday ranking third in the NL with 21 homers—17 of them since the beginning of May. Alvarez was also tied for sixth in the league with 56 RBIs.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday, July 16.
“I was totally surprised,” Locke said. “And felt honored. It’s something they can’t take away from you. I’m excited to meet a lot of the other [NL] guys and to represent this club, which is the most important thing for me.”
The selection is also a confirmation of Grilli’s persevering rise from career-long obscurity to elite closer, a role he is filling for the first time as a 36-year-old veteran 13 years after his big-league debut.
Locke was recognized for his remarkable about-face after a loss in his first start of the season put his career record at 1-7. He has since won eight consecutive decisions and ranks among the league leaders with a 2.12 ERA.
“I’d have called you a liar,” Locke said of the imagined scenario in which someone told him after that initial outing that two months later he would be an All-Star. “But it goes beyond the numbers; the confidence level is something I did not have before. I got a little edge on the mound.”
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Aside from his personal breakthrough, Grilli makes it three summers in a row for Pittsburgh’s closer traveling to the All-Star Game, following Joel Hanrahan’s selections the past two years.
Not even Hanrahan could match Grilli’s first-half total of 28 saves (in 29 opportunities) entering Saturday, a new pre-All-Star break club record.
“It’s a dog-and-pony show in the sense it’s a personal accolade, and that’s not why I’m here,” Grilli said of the All-Star experience. “But it is a reflection of what you’ve put in to help the club win. The reaction I got from teammates—the support and the hugs—probably had me choked up the most.”
The most glaring omission is that of Mark Melancon, who statistically is having an even better season than Grilli (0.87 ERA in 42 appearances, compared to 2.15 in 40), but is doing it in the relatively unsung role of a setup reliever.
“For an eighth-inning guy to make it, it’s out of the ordinary,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said prior to Saturday’s game.
“Yeah, I’m disappointed,” Melancon said with a light shrug. “Fortunately, I’ve got a beautiful wife and a daughter who love me, and I’ll get to spend three days with them. Not a bad ‘consolation.’”
Also bypassed was Francisco Liriano, the veteran left-hander who tied Locke for the team lead by winning his eighth game Friday with a complete game, the Pirates’ first since last July 31.
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