Zimmerman named to NL All-Star team
Third baseman St. Louis-bound for first Midsummer Classic
WASHINGTON -- Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, considered by many to be the best player on the Nationals, was named to the National League All-Star team on Sunday afternoon.
The news was announced on the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Pepsi. Zimmerman found out about the good news -- his first Midsummer Classic -- from manager Manny Acta before Sunday's game against the Braves.
When Acta called him into his office, Zimmerman thought he did something wrong, but the skipper told him that he was voted into the game by his peers. After the meeting, Zimmerman was congratulated by teammates, including Cristian Guzman, Nick Johnson and Josh Willingham.
"The fans mean everything to this game, but to get voted in from the people you play against day in and day out, you want them to have that utmost respect for you," Zimmerman said. "I'm going to try to do everything I can. You might not get to do it again. It's a huge honor. I'm going to get my family to come out there. You never know what's going to happen. I'm going to take advantage of it, enjoy myself and have fun."
Zimmerman will also get a chance to play with Mets third baseman David Wright, his childhood friend from Virginia Beach, Va., who was elected by fans to start for the NL.
"It's cool," Zimmerman said. "Growing up with him and competing against him, to be able to share the All-Star honor with him is special."
Zimmerman is off to the best start of his career. He posted a 30-game hitting streak earlier this season, the longest in baseball in 2009.
Zimmerman joined Rico Carty and George Sisler as the only players since 1900 to hit in 30 consecutive games this early in a season. The right-handed hitter is currently among the league leaders in several offensive categories.
Entering Monday's action against the Rockies, Zimmerman is hitting .293 with 13 home runs and 47 RBIs.
Recently, Acta credited slugger Adam Dunn, acquired over the winter, for his contributions to Zimmerman's success this season.
"Every night, Ryan doesn't have to feel that he's the one that has to have a great night just to win the ballgame, which I felt at times as a manager," Acta said. "When he wasn't going well, I [felt] our chances to win weren't as good. In 2007, Nick Johnson wasn't here, so it was pretty much him and Dmitri Young.
"Last year, when he came back from [a left shoulder injury], he didn't have anybody behind him to protect him, other than those young kids -- Jesus Flores and Lastings Milledge. This year, he has a totally different scenario, because it's a much deeper lineup.
"He knows that if he doesn't do something today, it might be Nick Johnson, so it's a more relaxing year for Zimmerman."
Guzman, who was named one of the finalists in the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote on Sunday, said Zimmerman deserved to go.
"I'm proud of him, because he needed it," Guzman said. "He did a good job this year."
Said Dunn, "The year he is having, I'm glad he is getting recognized for it."
The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 14 in St. Louis will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.