Oakland Athletics Soak Up All-Star Spotlight
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Oakland had a major league-high six players selected for the All-Star game, plus a seventh in recently acquired right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who would’ve been included on the NL side had he remained with the Chicago Cubs.
After consecutive AL West titles with a roster largely unknown to mainstream fans around the country, these Athletics have finally received their due.
“It’s definitely an honor for all of us to be here,” said third baseman Josh Donaldson, the lone starter in the group. “I feel like this is the results of playing well the last two years, and obviously playing well this year, too. We feel that we definitely have the team to beat, just because the last couple years we’ve won the division and our guys are real focused on that.”
With outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, first baseman Brandon Moss and catcher Derek Norris joining Donaldson, the A’s have position players represented for the first time since catcher Ramon Hernandez in 2003.
That’s a long gap, but it’s a good guess that they won’t have to wait so long for the next recognition.
“It’s really cool to have that many guys here and get to share it with them,” Moss said. “These are the same guys that have been there for two years, except for Kaz. But we have a lot of guys that can do a lot of special things.”
Pitchers Sean Doolittle and Scott Kazmir were the other A’s on the AL squad.
STILL WELCOME: Jeff Samardzija was declared ineligible by Major League Baseball to participate since the trade that sent him from the Cubs to the A’s was finalized the day before the All-Star rosters were revealed.
Still, the lanky long-haired Samardzija was at Target Field for the festivities this week.
He stood last in line with the NL reserves, wearing a generic red-and-blue workout day jersey for the NL. His hat, which could’ve been picked up at one of the souvenir shops in the concourse, read “MLB All-Star Game” with this year’s logo in the middle.
FONDLY REMEMBERED: Pitcher Glen Perkins, catcher Kurt Suzuki and manager Ron Gardenhire, a coach for the AL team, were greeted with the loudest cheers from the home crowd. Derek Jeter got a lengthy ovation, too, before his final All-Star game appearance.
But the mention of a pair of former Twins on the NL team prompted roars from the fans, too.
Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Gomez, who played two wildly inconsistent seasons for the Twins after they fetched him in the trade with the New York Mets for Johan Santana, sprinted out of the dugout to slap hands with all of his teammates.
St. Louis reliever Pat Neshek, who started his career with the Twins and grew up in a Minneapolis suburb, Brooklyn Park, had a big grin on his face as he tipped his cap. He was even announced as a former member of the Park Center Pirates, a nod to his high school less than 10 miles north of the downtown ballpark.
CONCUSSION CONCERN: MLB Executive Vice Presidents Joe Torre and Dan Halem, along with former Twins third baseman Corey Koskie and others, attended a head safety seminar with youth baseball players from nearby St. Paul. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission executive director Elliot Kaye held a demonstration on how to properly wear a helmet.
Koskie, forced into early retirement because of repeated head trauma, spoke about his firsthand experience with concussions and how they affected him as a player, a person and a parent.