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A string of All-Star subs, but still no Puig
Despite four changes to the NL team, only one position player pulled out Sunday and Puig was not picked as the replacement. Though he’s spent just six weeks in the majors, Puig has been so successful and exciting that some clamored for his inclusion, sparking a heated debate about whether that would be fair.
Puig was beaten out by Freeman last week in fan balloting online for the NL’s final spot, and the Cuban outfielder didn’t start for the second straight day Sunday because of a sore left hip, though he singled as a pinch hitter in the fifth inning. He came out after four innings Friday and didn’t play Saturday.
“I just found out, but I’m not going either,” Puig said through a translator.
Baltimore pitcher Chris Tillman, Kansas City closer Greg Holland and Oakland closer Grant Balfour were chosen by AL manager Jim Leyland of Detroit to replace Tigers ace Justin Verlander, Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma and Oakland’s Bartolo Colon, who all started Sunday. Verlander was the AL starter and loser in last year’s All-Star game at Kansas City.
“It’s a great honor now that it happened,” Balfour said. “It was up in the air and it’s nice to know it is official. I can go and have fun and do my thing.”
Holland joined outfielder Alex Gordon and catcher Salvador Perez to give Kansas City three All-Stars for the first time since George Brett, Mark Gubicza and Kurt Stillwell in 1988. Holland received the notification Sunday in Cleveland and traveled with Gordon and Perez to New York instead of returning to Kansas City with the rest of the team.
He wasn’t sure he was properly packed for the All-Star festivities
“I’ve got a lot of golf shirts,” Holland said. “I don’t know if that will pass. We’ll see what happens.”
Mujica’s addition gave the Cardinals six All-Stars, tying Detroit for most in the majors.
“I’ve never really seen myself as an All-Star. I’ve never really said it’s one of my goals to make an All-Star team, but now that it’s happening, I’m very proud. I mean, I’m an All-Star. Cool,” Romo said. “To be honest, I still feel like I weaseled my way into the big leagues.”
NOTES: There are a record 39 first-time All-Stars following the additions of Melancon, Romo, Tillman, Holland, Balfour and Mujica, four more than the previous mark set two years ago in Arizona. … Holland and Balfour both earned $50,000 bonuses, Romo and Tillman $25,000 each and Melancon $10,000.
AP Sports Writers Mike Fitzpatrick, Bernie Wilson in San Diego and Beth Harris in Los Angeles, and AP freelance writers Steve Herrick in Cleveland, John Perrotto in Pittsburgh and Rick Eymer in Oakland, Calif., contributed to this report.
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