‘Smoak­ing’ the vote

Blue Jays first base­man Justin Smoak among 12 first-time All-Star starters

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY RON­ALD BLUM

Toronto Blue Jays first base­man Justin Smoak was among 12 first-time starters elected Sun­day for the All-Star Game at Mi­ami on July 11, the most since vot­ing was re­turned to fans in 1970.

Smoak has 22 home runs and is hit­ting .303 - both ca­reer highs - so far this sea­son for Toronto. He stepped into the start­ing first base­man role for the Blue Jays af­ter for­mer al­ls­tar Ed­win En­car­na­cion signed with the Cleve­land In­di­ans as a free agent in the off-sea­son.

“It’s awe­some. It’s an hon­our. I think it’s some­thing as a young kid you al­ways dreamed of. It’s what you wanted to be was an all-star in the big leagues,” said Smoak.

“I think early in my ca­reer, com­ing up through the mi­nor leagues and get­ting drafted, that’s what I ex­pected of my­self. It didn’t hap­pen that way but I’m here now and I’m ex­cited to be a part of it.”

Smoak bounced back to beat Kansas City’s Eric Hos­mer by 555,000 at first base, and Tampa Bay’s Corey Dick­er­son ral­lied to win at des­ig­nated hit­ter by nearly 75,000 over Seat­tle’s Nel­son Cruz. The Roy­als’ Sal­vador Perez won at catcher.

Aaron Judge, Car­los Cor­rea and Nolan Are­nado are also first-time all-stars.

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