As expected, Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano selected for All-Star Game
Manager Lloyd McClendon hopes the Mariners also can add third baseman Kyle Seager and closer Fernando Rodney.
Seattle Times staff reporter
CHICAGO — Officially, the Mariners have two selections for the All-Star Game, but there is good possibility that they will have at least an additional player heading to the midsummer classic in Minneapolis.
As expected, second baseman Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez were voted on to the team.
“It was well deserved,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It was a nice honor. There’s some other things going on and hopefully we get a couple more guys there, too. We’ll see what happens.”
Cano was selected by fan vote to be the starting second baseman for the fifth straight season. This will be his sixth All-Star Game.
“It’s still special,” he said. “It was something I was going to be excited for, something I was going to have in my heart. You don’t know now that I’m on new team. But they’ve been watching and appreciating what I’m doing here.”
Cano has been consistently in the top five in batting average in the American League for the past few months. He’s hitting .320 with 20 doubles, six homers, 51 RBI and an .824 on-base plus slugging percentage. He beat out Houston’s Jose Altuve in the vote.
“He’s been great,” McClendon said. “What he’s done offensively, defensively and from a preparation standpoint of helping some young players along, I think it’s been huge. He’s a great player that makes other players around him better. “
Hernandez was selected to the team by the players’ vote. It will be his fifth All-Star appearance, tying him with Randy Johnson for most by a pitcher in club history.
“I’m happy,” he said. “To be part of the All-Star Game is always exciting, you never forget about that. It’s always fun.
Hernandez is 10-2 with a AL best 2.11 earned-run average in 19 starts. He’s thrown 1361/3 innings and struck out 145 batters with just 23 walks. He was a lock to make the team. Now the question is whether Red Sox manager John Farrell will choose him to start.
“There’s a lot of guys deserving of that,” McClendon said.
One of the deserving pitchers — Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees — is scheduled to pitch Sunday making him ineligible to start.
Does Hernandez want to start?
“That’s not up to me,” he said. “But if they ask me, I’ll say, ‘yes.’ ”
McClendon hopes third baseman Kyle Seager and closer Fernando Rodney will be added to the team. They were notably left off the American League roster, but that doesn’t mean their all-star candidacy is done.
“They’ve done a damn good job,” McClendon said. “My closer leads the league in saves and my third baseman’s numbers are as good as any third baseman in the league. They are both deserving. This is a tough process. Somebody has to be left off. Hopefully it’s not them.
There’s a good chance that both will be added to the roster because of injuries and pitchers like Tanaka, who won’t be available.
Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion was injured on Saturday night in Oakland and will miss the All-Star Game, which should open up a spot for Seager.
Josh Donaldson was voted in as the starting third baseman. Seager certainly deserves consideration. He’s hitting .274 with a 21 doubles, 13 homers, 59 RBI and an .830 OPS.
“It’s not something I can control,” Seager said. “The good thing is that we are playing good baseball here and that takes up all of your thoughts.”
Rodney leads the league in saves with 25 and has a 2.10 ERA. He’s struck out 39 batters in 341/3 innings pitched.
“I’d be happy if we got all four,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez to face Oakland
Before he thinks about possibly starting in the All-Star Game, Hernandez will have to contend with the best team in baseball in his next start. McClendon has pushed Hernandez back a day in the rotation, moving his start from Thursday to Friday, so he can face the AL West leading Oakland A’s.
“I just want to line up my best pitcher against Oakland,” McClendon said. “I want him pitching against them. So it made sense to make that adjustment. It also gives him an extra day. He can pitch on the sixth day. All the stars lined up. It just made sense to do that.”
McClendon has been looking at this possibility for more than a few weeks. He also took into consideration several things, specifically the series after the all-star break against the Angels, who are also ahead of the Mariners in the standings.
“You want your best pitchers facing your division rivals,” McClendon said. “It just makes sense. They’re the guys in front of us. I’d be foolish if I didn’t want Felix facing Oakland and Anaheim.”
McClendon said this decision has been under consideration for close to four weeks.
“It just wasn’t an off the top of the head decision,” he said. “There was a lot of thought that went into.”
Part of that thought process was considering the very likely possibility of Hernandez pitching in or starting the All-Star Game.
“That also came to play,” McClendon said. “Not that I set precedence for the All-Star Game over what we are trying to accomplish. But when we were lining things up, it just so happens to be that if he were to pitch an inning or two in the All-Star Game, it’s probably good for him because it doesn’t give him X amount of days off. It keeps him sharp.”
As for who will start on Thursday?
“It’s yet to be determined,” McClendon said. “I will let you know when I know. We have options. And I will let you know when I figure out what they are.”
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @RyanDivish