Mets trio elected to start All-Star Game
Wagner to join Beltran, Reyes and Wright in San Francisco
NEW YORK -- The 2006 All-Star Game ended with one of his teammates on the field in PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Billy Wagner would be delighted if the sequel ended similarly, specifically with him on the mound at AT&T Park in San Francisco, protecting a lead and perhaps helping the Mets in their October pursuits.
This summer, at least, the chance exists for Wagner to lend a left hand. He is one of four Mets All-Stars, three starters and, he hopes, a finisher. Wagner was named to the team by its manager, Tony La Russa. Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and David Wright were elected by the fans to serve as the center fielder, shortstop and third baseman, respectively, when the stars come out on July 10 and determine which league champion will have home-field advantage in the World Series.
So, for the second straight year, the core of the National League team can be the three-man core of the Mets as defined by general manager Omar Minaya. An injury to Reyes' glove hand, suffered a week before baseball took its annual coffee break last year, denied the shortstop his first All-Star appearance. But Beltran, Wright and Paul Lo Duca were on the field when the game began, and Beltran was on second base when Yankees closer Mariano Rivera retired Carlos Lee to secure the American League's 3-2 victory.
"This year, I'll be there," Reyes said on Sunday after Major League Baseball announced 31 of the 32 players on each roster. "I want to play this year."
The four elected and/or selected players for the '07 game are two fewer than the Mets had last year, when Beltran, Reyes, Wright, Lo Duca, Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez were selected as All-Stars. Martinez excused himself from the roster as he had in 2005; Glavine was on the roster, but he didn't pitch.
No matter which two of the 10 candidates for the Monster 2007 All-Star Final Vote -- one from each league -- are elected, no other NL club will have as many as four representatives unless players already on the rosters withdraw and certain others replace them.
The Mets and the Brewers -- with starting first baseman Prince Fielder, runner-up shortstop J.J. Hardy, starting pitcher Ben Sheets and reliever Francisco Cordero -- are the only teams with four representatives. The Mets had five -- Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter, Dwight Gooden and Sid Fernandez -- in 1986, the year they won their last World Series championship, and they placed four players on the team in each of the subsequent two seasons.
The 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game is to be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and carried around the world by Major League Baseball International. Pregame ceremonies begin at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio provides exclusive national radio coverage, and MLB.com provides extensive online coverage.
Play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game on July 8 is to be provided by XM satellite radio.
Wagner is an All-Star for the fifth time, his first time with the Mets. He had represented the Astros and Philliies previously. He hasn't pitched in an All-Star Game since 2003. Jesse Orosco (1984), John Franco ('90) and Armando Benitez were the only Mets closers selected previously.
"It's a very nice honor," Wagner said, 'because the older you get, the harder it is to make." He turns 36 in three weeks.
Wagner hadn't expected to be chosen because he has had relatively few save opportunities. Five NL relievers have more than his 16. But he has converted all but one, averaged 12 strikeouts per nine innings and allowed merely 33 baserunners in 36 1/3 innings. Moreover, he has a strong relationship with La Russa.
"I think he likes the way I play the game," Wagner said. "The last time he was manager [in 2005], he told me he liked having me on the team. But we were down, so I didn't pitch."
Wagner had endorsed Pedro Feliciano and John Maine as All-Star candidates, and he said each was "head and shoulders above me." Neither expressed great disappointment. And Wagner suggested either could be selected if other chosen pitchers withdraw.
Reyes will become the first Mets All-Star shortstop since Buddy Harrelson (1970 and 1971).
"David and me ... we wanted to go together last year," Reyes said. "We could have four of us out there [with Beltran and Lo Duca] at the start of the game. We wanted to see all those Mets."
The election is the second for Wright, as well. Batting sixth last year, he hit a home run in his first at-bat as an All-Star in the second inning, providing the NL's first run. He had placed second to Ryan Howard of the Phillies in the Home Run Derby the preceding night.
Wright said he will not participate in the Derby this year, and Howard was neither elected nor selected to the team. Beltran had no interest in the Derby either.
"If they had asked last year [when he hit 25 home runs, five more the Wright]," Beltran said, "I probably would have."
As the leading vote-getter among the Mets, Beltran is an All-Star for the fourth time, his third time as a Met. He had two hits and scored a run in four at-bats. He was the only one to play all nine innings. Strawberry was the last Mets outfielder to be an All-Star in consecutive years, 1988-89, though he didn't play in '89 because of an injury.
Beltran's first All-Star experience came in 2004, when he was a member of the Astros. He had been elected to the AL team as a member of the Royals, but he was traded to the Astros after the team rosters were announced.
Used in left field two years ago when Jim Edmonds was the NL center fielder, Beltran will play center between Ken Griffey Jr., the leading vote-getter in the league and the right fielder, and Barry Bonds, the left fielder.
The other NL starters are Fielder, Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and Dodgers catcher Russell Martin.
After the fans selected the starters, the Players' Ballot determined eight reserves and eight pitchers per league.
The 2003 season marked the introduction of the Player Ballot to the All-Star selection process. Each league's players, managers and coaches elect eight position players and eight pitchers from their league. Catchers and infielders who finish in the top two at their position on the Player Ballot, and outfielders among the top six, are assured of making the All-Star Team. In instances where the winners of the Player Ballot are also fan-elected starters, the player with the next highest amount of votes on the Player Ballot makes the All-Star Team. Eight pitchers -- five starters and three relievers -- become All-Stars through the Player Ballot. The manager of each World Series team from the prior season --in this year's case, Detroit's Jim Leyland and La Russa -- then fills the remaining slots on their respective teams, ensuring that one player from all 30 clubs is named to the All-Star Game.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.