Zobrist named reserve to AL All-Star squad
Utility man to make second appearance in Midsummer Classic
ST. PETERSBURG -- Ben Zobrist will be the Rays' lone representative at the 2013 All-Star Game.
And Rays manager Joe Maddon fully endorsed the pick.
"I love the selection from the perspective that a complete game matters, it's not just about batting average," Maddon said. "Ben personifies the complete baseball player and has done so year in and year out. It's great to see him recognized for it."
The announcement came during Saturday's MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell on FOX. Zobrist found out the news earlier when he went into Maddon's office to meet with the Rays manager and Andrew Friedman, executive vice president of baseball operations.
"I didn't know what they wanted to talk about to be honest," Zobrist said. "I thought there was going to be other people coming into the meeting, too. Whenever that happens, there's usually a few other guys that come into the room and we talk about whatever, various things about the team or whatever. I was just shocked. I didn't really expect it.
"I was really puzzled as to why I was coming into the principal's office before the game. …When they showed me the envelope and said that [American League manager Jim] Leyland had selected me as one of the guys to come off the bench possibly -- it's a huge honor."
American League roster
|C||Joe Mauer, MIN|
|1B||Chris Davis, BAL|
|2B||Robinson Cano, NYY|
|3B||Miguel Cabrera, DET|
|SS||J.J. Hardy, BAL|
|OF||Mike Trout, LAA|
|OF||Adam Jones, BAL|
|OF||Jose Bautista, TOR|
|DH||David Ortiz, BOS|
|RHP||Clay Buchholz*, BOS|
|LHP||Brett Cecil, TOR|
|RHP||Bartolo Colon@, OAK|
|RHP||Jesse Crain*, CWS|
|RHP||Yu Darvish, TEX|
|RHP||Felix Hernandez, SEA|
|RHP||Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA|
|RHP||Justin Masterson, CLE|
|RHP||Joe Nathan, TEX|
|LHP||Glen Perkins@, MIN|
|RHP||Mariano Rivera, NYY|
|LHP||Chris Sale, CWS|
|RHP||Max Scherzer, DET|
|RHP||Justin Verlander, DET|
|C||Jason Castro, HOU|
|C||Salvador Perez, KC|
|1B||Prince Fielder, DET|
|2B||Jason Kipnis, CLE|
|2B||Dustin Pedroia, BOS|
|2B||Ben Zobrist, TB|
|SS||Jhonny Peralta, DET|
|3B||Manny Machado, BAL|
|OF||Nelson Cruz, TEX|
|OF||Alex Gordon, KC|
|OF||Torii Hunter, DET|
|DH||Edwin Encarnacion, TOR|
Surprised, maybe, but Zobrist also remained confident of his ability.
"I don't feel like I've necessarily played the way I'm capable of playing up to this point, but obviously I still feel like I can help the club win," Zobrist said. "And hopefully if we win that game, we could possibly make it to the World Series and that would give us home-field advantage. It's an important game still. I look forward to being there and seeing what I can do."
The Rays' "Super Utility Man" -- as Maddon long ago tabbed Zobrist -- joined the team as one of Leyland's picks.
"I think Ben Zobrist is a very, very good player, and he happens to be able to play everywhere," Leyland said. "He's a switch-hitter that plays everywhere."
Ironically, Zobrist got drilled by a pitch from Tigers starter Rick Porcello on Sunday at Tropicana Field, ostensibly at the command of Leyland. Zobrist smiled when asked if he could find some humor in the situation of being picked by Leyland less than a week after the incident that prompted Porcello to receive a six-game suspension.
"I find a lot of humor in the selection based on that," Zobrist said. "I can't wait to talk to Mr. Leyland to thank him for a couple of different things. No, it's really just going to be an honor to be in the same clubhouse as so many great players. And just to be a part of that game is really special for any player."
Zobrist's announcement ended the speculation about who might be this year's Rays representative, or representatives, as several players are having good seasons.
Other Rays who appeared to have a good shot included Evan Longoria, Yunel Escobar, James Loney and Matt Moore.
Based on the emphasis now placed on winning the Midsummer Classic, Zobrist, who played in the 2009 All-Star Game, is a perfect pick for a manager hoping to add to the flexibility of his team.
Zobrist can play myriad positions, most notably shortstop, second base and right field. He played in a career-high 157 games in 2012 and distinguished himself as the first player to start at least 45 games at three different positions in the field.
"I just assume it will be similar to some of the things that I do here," Zobrist said. "Only this way it will be coming into the game late in the game if I get an opportunity. And maybe possibly playing a position I haven't played recently. … I'll just have to kind of be flexible and be willing to do whatever they ask me to do. I look forward to the opportunity."
Zobrist had plans for the All-Star break prior to learning about his selection to the team.
"I was just going to go home, relax in Nashville with family and friends," Zobrist said. "This will be a fun little trip in between that time. I really am shocked and excited for the opportunity."
From Saturday, July 6 to Thursday, July 11, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com for the final player for each League's All-Star roster.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday, July 16. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Unfortunately for Longoria, he will wear the label as the Rays' most deserving player to not make the squad. But he plays third base, a position headed by Detroit's Miguel Cabrera.
Meanwhile, Moore is having an All-Star-caliber year. He improved to 12-3 with a 3.42 ERA following 6 1/3 shutout innings in the Rays' 3-0 victory over the White Sox on Saturday night.
Moore did not sound as if felt like he had been on the receiving end of a snub.
"No, I mean I think that those decisions were all subject to people's opinions and things like that," Moore said. "By no means do I feel right taking away from anybody who did make the team. I'm very happy for Zobrist. He's a great player to take from this team as far as winning one game. He can make a difference. Very versatile. Can do a lot of different things. I'm extremely happy for Ben and hope that we can a win in the All-Star Game and that will help set us up nice for the playoffs."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.