Rangers send four to All-Star Game
Hamilton to start, three other Rangers selected
BALTIMORE -- Josh Hamilton, after triumphantly overcoming 3 1/2 years of drug and alcohol problems, soared into his first All-Star Game, finishing first among all outfielders in the fan voting, and will start for the American League on July 15 at Yankee Stadium.
Hamilton had been running second for the past several updates, but blew past Manny Ramirez in the final totals, finishing with 3,708,709 votes. Only Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and shortstop Derek Jeter received more total votes in the AL than Hamilton, who leads the Major Leagues with 84 RBIs while hitting .309 with 19 home runs and a .547 slugging percentage.Hamilton will be joined in New York by three teammates: second baseman Ian Kinsler, shortstop Michael Young and outfielder/designated hitter Milton Bradley. "It's cool," Hamilton said. "It's definitely a dream come true. To come back and be able to play Major League Baseball again is great, but to be on the All-Star team with three of my teammates means a lot. That says a lot about our team. I was more excited about the other guys going with me." Hamilton was the only Ranger selected to the starting lineup by the fans, but all four received the highest number of votes at their position by the players. "That means a lot and should mean a lot to them," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "There is nothing more satisfying than the respect of their peers. I'm happy for them, it couldn't have happened to a better bunch of guys." Kinsler, who leads the AL with a .332 batting average, 79 runs scored and 121 hits, just missed catching Dustin Pedroia as the AL starting second baseman, falling short by 34,243 votes. "I would love to start the game, but I'm just excited about being a part of the All-Star Game," Kinsler said. "It's the last year of Yankee Stadium, three of my teammates, we'll have a great time and take over the locker room." Bradley will be the AL starting designated hitter, according to Red Sox manager Terry Francona. David Ortiz was elected to the starting lineup by the fans, but will not play because of a wrist injury. Bradley, who is leading the league in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage, will start instead after getting the highest number of votes from the players at the DH spot. Hamilton was the first Ranger elected to start in an All-Star Game since Teixeira in 2005 and the first outfielder since Juan Gonzalez. This is the first time the Rangers have had two players in the starting lineup since Alex Rodriguez and Ivan Rodriguez in 2001. It's also the first time in club history the Rangers have sent four position players to the All-Star Game. Only the Red Sox, who had seven players selected, have more than the Rangers on the AL team. It's also the sixth time in club history the Rangers have sent four or more players to the game. Trainer Jamie Reed will also represent the Rangers. The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game. Young, who is hitting .292 with seven home runs and 46 RBIs, is going for the fifth straight season while this will be the first trip for Kinsler, Bradley and Hamilton. Young was the 2006 Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game after hitting a game-winning two-run triple off Padres reliever Trevor Hoffman, but did not get into the game last year. "Every [All-Star Game] is special for different reasons," Young said. "Going to New York will be fun, but getting to go with three of my teammates, all going for the first time, that's special. I'm really happy for those three guys." Young will be going for the fifth straight time as a reserve. He has never beaten out Jeter for the fan vote, but has been selected four times by the players and once in 2007 by AL manager Jim Leyland. "It would be fun to start, but I'm just happy to be in this position," Young said. "Getting voted in by the players is a great compliment. That never gets old. Having the players respect you and the way you play means a lot." Hamilton will be in the outfield along with Ramirez and Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners. It will be up to Francona to decide how he wants to deploy them in the field. Ramirez is strictly a left fielder while Hamilton and Suzuki have both played center and right field. He should also be a strong candidate to be in the State Farm Home Run Derby on Monday and said he would be willing to take part. "More than likely," Hamilton said. "That's one of the things you have to experience and I'd definitely like to do it." This will be the second trip for Reed, who also was at the 2000 All-Star Game in Atlanta while working for the Rays.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.