Results tagged ‘ All-Star Game. ’
Astros bench coach Joe Pettini has been chosen by National League All-Star manager Tony La Russa to serve as the bench coach for the NL at the 83rd All-Star Game, which is scheduled for July 10 in Kansas City.
La Russa, who retired after leading the Cardinals to the World Series title last year, invited his entire Cardinals coaching staff to join him in Kansas City — Dave Duncan (pitching), Derek Lilliquist (bullpen), Mark McGwire (hitting), Dave McKay (first base coach; currently with the Chicago Cubs) and Jose Oquendo (third base coach).
La Russa also named Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and Mets manager Terry Collins as his NL coaches. Collins was an NL coach while manager of the Astros in 1995 under NL manager Felipe Alou at the All-Star Game in Arlington.
Pettini won two World Series titles as La Russa’s right-hand man, including last year’s scintillating run that culminated with a victory over the Rangers. Pettini, 57, left the Cardinals after more than 25 years as a player and coach in the organization for a chance to reunite with general manager Jeff Luhnow, who spent the previous eight years with the Cardinals.
Considering the Astros are 29-54 and have the worst record in the Major Leagues, it would be surprising if they had more than one representative for the All-Star Game, which will be July 12 in Phoenix. The teams will be announced at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday.
Right fielder Hunter Pence, who had three hits Saturday, appears to be the overwhelming choice to be the team’s lone representative. He leads the team in batting average (.323), home runs (10) and RBIs (57), where he ranks among the league’s leaders.
But don’t discount center fielder Michael Bourn, the Astros’ lone All-Star representative last year. Bourn went 4-for-5 on Saturday to increase his batting average to .297 and on-base percentage to .362. He also leads the Majors in stolen bases and appears on his way to winning a third consecutive Gold Glove.
Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (6-4, 2.97 ERA) has had a nice first half, but I can’t imagine him making it at the expense of either Pence or Bourn, assuming the Astros only get one All-Star.
So who’s your Astros’ All-Star in 2011?
Astros CF Michael Bourn will be making his first All-Star Game appearance after being selected as a reserve by NL manager Charlie Manuel of the Phillies, the organization that drafted Bourn in 2003 out of the University of Houston.
Bourn, 27, leads the league with 25 stolen bases and is well on his way to winning another NL Gold Glove Award, an honor he won last year for the first time. He’s hitting .260 with one homer and 20 RBIs from the leadoff spot with 48 runs scored and a .336 on-base percentage, and he carried the Astros by hitting .311 in April while much of the club was struggling offensively.
He also leads league in outfield assists, infield hits and bunt hits (tied).
All three Astros starting outfielders now have All-Star nods on their resumes. Right-fielder Hunter Pence went last year, and left-fielder Carlos Lee went for the Astros in 2007.
We’re about a month away from the All-Star Game in Anaheim, and it appears unlikely the Astros will have anyone voted into the starting lineup, which isn’t surprising. Fans can still cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and Astros.com until July 1, but no Astros were in the running when the latest NL vote total was released last week.
So who should represent the Astros in the All-Star Game?
When it comes to position players, no one is really having an All-Star-type season. Jeff Keppinger, who isn’t on the ballot at second base, leads the team with a .292 batting average, 18 doubles and 21 multi-hit games, so perhaps he’ll get picked as a reserve. Right-fielder Hunter Pence, an All-Star a year ago, is hitting .260 with 10 homers and 28 RBIs and would be somewhat of a more jazzy pick than Keppinger. But the competition in the outfield will be fierce.
Former All-Stars Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee haven’t put up the numbers, and neither has Pedro Feliz.
Pitchers, of course, aren’t picked by the fans, so it could be up to the players, managers and coaches in the league to decide who the Astros’ All-Star rep will be. Roy Oswalt has been terrific this year, posting a 3.16 ERA in 13 starts (11 quality starts). But his 4-8 record from a lack of run support could cost him. Brett Myers (4-4, 3.18 ERA) has pitched into at least the sixth inning in all 13 of his starts, and he has a good relationship with NL manager Charlie Manuel of the Phillies.
But there are so many terrific pitching candidates in the NL, it might be hard to justify taking Oswalt or Myers. The bottom line is the Astros have to have at least one All-Star representative, and it’s anyone’s guess at this point who it might be.
Kudos to Astros outfielder Hunter Pence and shortstop Miguel Tejada for making the National League All-Star team as reserves. For Tejada, it will be his sixth All-Star Game — second in the NL — as he continues to play at a high level at age 35.
For Pence, this will be his first trip to the Midsummer Classic, and it’s well-deserved. No one plays the game harder or with more enthusiasm as Pence, who play has yet to gain him national attention. When he chased down a foul ball during a blowout loss in San Francisco over the weekend, he fell over the bullpen mounds and then tipped his hat to the fans.
Pence will revel in his first All-Star Game. He’ll appreciate being there and sharing the clubhouse with some of the game’s greats. He’ll take it seriously, though, hoping to get a win for the NL just in case the Astros make it the World Series and need home-field advantage.
Pence will run out every ground ball and crash into the wall, just because that’s the way the game’s supposed to be played. Even if it’s an exhibition. Astros fans have come to appreciate Pence more and more with each season, and now the rest of the country can find out what they’ve been missing.