Ten years ago, the Sox sent Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Lowe and Carl Everett to the Midsummer Classic, all as substitutes. Since then, a Sox star — yes, 2002's version of Shea Hillenbrand was technically a star — has been picked by the fans in each contest leading up to the mid-season affair in two weeks in Angels country. Sure, many players have opted out of the event citing injuries or injury-based rest, but this year no member of the club is likely to even get the fans' recognition.
And Red Sox Nation couldn't be happier.
As of the most-recent official voting results, the closest Sox player to earning the starting nod is second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who trails Robinson Cano, arguably the league's first-half MVP, by more than one million votes.
Of course, there's still a slim chance in Yankees' manager Joe Girardi pegging Clay Buchholz as the AL starting pitcher, but the odds of him picking a rival over his ace, Phil Hughes, or Rays lefty David Price, remains slim.
So where's the All-Star love, Sox fans? Was it reasonably lost in this roller-coaster of a season or are Sox fans out-smarting the competition?
Manager Terry Francona's crew stutter-stepped out of the gate in April. A few injuries here, a couple of slumps there, and the team was not only stuck in third place, they were playing like a third-place team — and that was on good nights. But after their 11-12 April, the Sox banged out a promising 18-11 May and an even stronger 17-8 June. They've gone 18-8 heading into their much-needed day off on Monday and have a chance at reaching the 20-win plateau as they welcome in the disheveled Rays for a two-game set to close out the month.
All excuses aside, the 2010 Sox have yet to nail down their true identity. The projected lineup has played just four games this season — the first four games of the season against the reigning MLB champion New York Yankees.
Jacoby Ellsbury, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Victor Martinez, C
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF
Mike Cameron, CF
Marco Scutaro, SS
That lineup was split up after Game 5, when Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell and Jeremy Hermida were penciled in to give Ortiz, Cameron and Beltre an early day off. Two games later in Kansas City, Ellsbury was being helped off the field with a rib injury. About a week after that, Cameron would be placed on the disabled list as well, with his first bout with abdominal pains. All the while, Ortiz, the team's slugging DH, looked as though he was trying to hit a pea with a dipstick.
The pitching staff has seen its fair share of health issues, too. Daisuke Matsuzaka started off on the DL and ace Josh Beckett will likely end the first half of the season still on it. To make matters more interesting, Buchholz — with a 10-4 record and a 2.45 ERA — recently tweaked his hamstring running out a fielder's choice in San Francisco. And Pedroia, the only Sox starter in contention for a starting All-Star nod, was placed on the DL with a foot injury over the weekend.
So while some Sox players, such as Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester and Adrian Beltre may be asked to join the AL squad by Girardi or due to injured starters, the fact of the matter is: a quiet All-Star break just may be the rest these Sox need.
The break may be just three days away from the diamond, but it's a crucial three days for Boston's banged-up batsmen. Including Monday's day off, the Sox will have three off days leading up to the break, and with players fending off minor bumps and bruises, or nearing the end of their DL stints, those extra days spent rehabbing, icing, soaking and resting will pay off leading into the second half of the season.
Plus, an absence from the All-Star Game means less time spent on a flight, in the batter's box, on the mound or on the base paths, where anything can happen. Yes, anything. Whether it's back stiffness from a long flight, an inside heater that grabs a few ribs, or a twisted knee rounding first, the All-Star game is full of booby traps.
So while the Sox studs (who will always remain All Stars in the hearts of Hub fans) could use the time to lick their wounds and regroup, keep the All-Star voting to the Yankee fans. The local nine are hot on their heels and the extra break can only help.
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