All-Star pick pro­vides kick for SS Cozart

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE - Com­piled by TIm Cooper

Zack Cozart’s All-Star se­lec­tion comes with a real kick: His own pet don­key.

The Cincin­nati Reds short­stop had an agree­ment with team­mate Joey Votto, who promised a largeeared an­i­mal as a re­ward for mak­ing the Na­tional League All-Star team. Hav­ing earned the honor for the first time, Cozart is look­ing for­ward to the four-hooved fella’s ar­rival.

“Who knows? It might even show up here,” Cozart cracked be­fore the Reds be­gan their cur­rent four-game se­ries with the Colorado Rock­ies on Mon­day.

He will wait for feed­back from fans be­fore pick­ing a name. Cozart wants to stick to a base­ball-themed moniker for the ad­di­tion to his an­i­mal farm, which cur­rently con­sists of two minia­ture Dober­mans.

Cozart cred­its Votto for help­ing him gain late votes. Votto re­cently dressed up in a don­key cos­tume on MLB Net­work’s In­ten­tional Talk to en­tice fans to cast their bal­lot for Cozart, who fin­ished about 86,000 votes ahead of Los An­ge­les Dodgers short­stop Corey Sea­ger.

“When you get the for­mer MVP to do stuff like that, it helps out,” Cozart said.

Cozart, hit­ting .320 with 9 home runs and 33 RBI en­ter­ing Tues­day’s game, is sur­prised by the at­ten­tion the story gen­er­ated.

“It’s one of those things where it was funny at the time when it was brought up: ‘Hey, I’ll get you a don­key if you make the All-Star team,’ ” he re­counted. “As the year went along, and play­ing well, and the vot­ing came out, and do­ing OK in the vot­ing, it started get­ting real re­ally quick.”

Judg­ing Aaron

Turns out, New York Yan­kees slug­ger Aaron Judge wasn’t re­ally spend­ing all this time weigh­ing the pros and cons of par­tic­i­pat­ing in Mon­day’s Home Run Derby.

His mind was made up a while ago. And when Judge fi­nally did let ev­ery­one in on his se­cret — along­side team­mate Gary

Sanchez at

Mon­day’s news con­fer­ence — it landed with max­i­mum ef­fect, con­ve­niently enough, the day af­ter the All-Star se­lec­tion show aired on ESPN.

This is the en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness, af­ter all, and why cram all the good stuff into one news cy­cle when there’s the op­por­tu­nity to crank up the mar­ket­ing ma­chine to get a full 48 hours in­stead? Judge is the big­gest thing go­ing in base­ball, and there was no way he was sit­ting out a na­tion­ally tele­vised spec­ta­cle like the Derby. With the first-half frenzy around him, Judge must feel ob­li­gated to com­pete.

“I wanted to wait un­til the Al­lS­tar stuff went out,” Judge said. “My 100 per­cent fo­cus was on the team and what we were do­ing on the field.”

Judge, as the top vote-get­ter in ei­ther league, is a guar­an­teed rat­ings bo­nanza. He’s go­ing to bring eye­balls Mon­day night, and if MLB is able to set up the event to cre­ate a fi­nal show­down be­tween Judge and the Los An­ge­les Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, well, those two rook­ies may save the sport all by them­selves.

Judge doesn’t have to do any­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary to hit home runs. When he ex­erts that amount of force on a base­ball, that’s just what hap­pens.

“It’s just an­other round of BP, but in front of 50,000 peo­ple,” Judge said.

AP/JOHN MINCHILLO

Cincin­nati Reds short­stop Zack Cozart’s se­lec­tion to the All-Star Game means he’ll be the proud owner of a pet don­key, thanks to team­mate Joey Votto.

Votto

Judge

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