NEW YORK – Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was Sunday named in fan balloting to play in this summer’s All-Star game for the eighth consecutive year while Chicago Cubs rookie outfielder Kosuke Fukudome was the only other Japanese player selected.
Ichiro, who won MVP honors after hitting an inside-the-park homer in last year’s All-Star game, garnered about 2.01 million votes for third among American League outfielders to secure a spot for the midsummer classic at Yankee Stadium on July 15.
“I would like to think that appearing in the All-Star game (for the eighth consecutive year) is just natural but I haven’t reached that point yet,” Ichiro, who is batting .302 with 111 hits and 34 stolen bases in 88 games, said.
“This will be the last year of Yankee Stadium, so this holds a special meaning for me.”
Fukudome, who moved to the Cubs in a free-agent deal in the 2007 offseason, was also selected third among National League outfielders with about 2.99 million votes. He is hitting .287 with seven homers in 84 games.
“To be honest, I’m happy,” Fukudome said. “I never thought that when I got here in the majors that I would be selected. This is a real honor for me. It’s huge.”
Boston Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka posted an 8-0 winning streak from Opening Day and is currently 9-1 but was not named to this year’s All-Star squad.
Darvish wins vote
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters right-hander Yu Darvish made the Pacific League All-Star roster through fan votes for the first time as the final vote results for the All-Star series were announced Monday.
Darvish, who has posted a 9-3 record with six complete games and a 1.93 ERA — both league highs — was the top vote-getter among starting pitchers in the PL with 273,217 fan votes.
“I didn’t think I would be chosen in fan balloting, so I am happy,” Darvish said. “I want to pitch with all I’ve got in the series.”
Seibu Lions outfielder G.G. Sato, who is batting .318 with 19 homers, amassed the most votes in both the Central and Pacific leagues with 367,837 for the series, which takes place on July 31 and Aug. 1 at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome and Yokohama Stadium.
Four players were elected from the CL-leading Hanshin Tigers while Nippon Ham had the most among the PL with four. Tokyo Yakult Swallows outfielder Norichika Aoki got the most votes in the CL with 343,453.
Six players, including Hanshin infielder Takahiro Arai and Yomiuri Giants infielder Hayato Sakamoto, were selected to the All-Star series by way of fan votes for the first time along with Darvish and seven other PL players.