Blue Jays first base­man Smoak AL starter

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

NEW YORK — Once again, a late push of on­line votes from Cana­di­ans has made one of the Toronto Blue Jays a starter for Ma­jor League Base­ball’s Amer­i­can League al­ls­tar team.

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

Smoak bounced back to beat KC’s Eric Hos­mer by 555,000.

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 all-star Ed­win En­car­na­cion signed with the Cleve­land In­di­ans as a free agent in the off-sea­son. Aaron Judge, Car­los Cor­rea and Nolan Are­nado are also first-timers. In a sign of the gen­er­a­tional change, the all-stars with the most se­lec­tions are Los An­ge­les Dodgers pitcher Clay­ton Ker­shaw with eight and St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina with seven. Detroit’s Miguel Cabr­era, the se­nior all-star last year with 11 se­lec­tions, wasn’t picked for the first time since 2009. Two of the first-time starters are from the Hous­ton Astros, who have the best record in the ma­jor leagues: Cor­rea, the short­stop drafted first over­all in 2012, and out­fielder Ge­orge Springer. Sec­ond base­man Jose Al­tuve was elected to his third start.

Hous­ton pitch­ers Dal­las Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. were picked, as well, giv­ing the Astros five All-Stars, tied for the most with the New York Yan­kees, Cleve­land and Wash­ing­ton. Keuchel is hurt and won’t pitch.

Na­tion­als out­fielder Bryce Harper, sec­ond base­man Daniel Murphy and first base­man Ryan Zim­mer­man were elected to start, and Max Scherzer and Stephen Stras­burg were se­lected for the pitch­ing staff. Harper led fan vot­ing with 4.63 million bal­lots.

Judge, the six-seven rookie who leads the ma­jor leagues with 27 home runs, topped the AL with 4.49 million votes. He is joined in the out­field by Springer and Los An­ge­les An­gels star Mike Trout, who hopes to re­turn in time from a torn thumb lig­a­ment.

Cleve­land’s Jose Ramirez over­took Min­nesota’s Miguel Sano in the fi­nal days of bal­lot­ing to win the AL third base spot, and Tampa Bay’s Corey Dick­er­son ral­lied to win at DH. The Roy­als’ Sal­vador Perez won at catcher.

Are­nado over­took the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, last year’s NL MVP, to win at third. Are­nado will be joined in the NL lineup by Cincin­nati short­stop Zack Cozart, Rock­ies out­fielder Char­lie Black­mon, Mi­ami out­fielder Mar­cell Ozuna and San Fran­cisco catcher Buster Posey.

Catcher Gary Sanchez, injured sec­ond base­man Starlin Cas­tro and pitch­ers Dellin Be­tances and Luis Sev­erino also were picked from the Yan­kees. Cleve­land is send­ing pitch­ers Corey Klu­ber and An­drew Miller, short­stop Fran­cisco Lin­dor and out­fielder Michael Brant­ley.

Mar­lins out­fielder Gian­carlo Stan­ton was picked as a re­serve and plans to de­fend his home-run derby ti­tle. L.A. Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger, who leads the NL with 24 homers, said he will par­tic­i­pate.

CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Toronto Blue Jays’ Justin Smoak, pic­tured, beat Kansas City’s Eric Hos­mer by 555,000 votes in the first-base bat­tle.

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