NEW YORK — Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was named to the American League All-Star team after collecting the second most fan votes among the league’s outfielders, setting the stage for him to make a major league All-Star appearance for a 10th straight year.
Fellow Japanese Hideki Matsui, playing in his first year with the Los Angeles Angels, however, missed out after failing to make the list of five nominees vying for the AL’s 34th and final roster spot for the July 13 All-Star Game in Anaheim.
Last year, Ichiro, who joined the Mariners from the Orix BlueWave before the 2001 season, set a major league record with his ninth consecutive 200-hit season.
“The number 10 looks beautiful to me and I really wanted to make it happen,” Ichiro said. “It’s not easy to be selected, so the roster announcement made me somewhat emotional this time.”
AL MVP catcher Joe Mauer was announced by Major League baseball as the fans’ top choice while Albert Pujols earned the most votes in the National League.
In the year of the pitcher, no-hit aces Ubaldo Jimenez and Roy Halladay lead a formidable National League All-Star staff. Rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg will have to wait at least another season before he gets the nod.
Each squad still has one more spot to fill in their 34-man rosters. Fans will make the decision, choosing from a list of five candidates in each league in an Internet runoff.
Strasburg’s 160 kph fastball has captivated fans around baseball since the Washington Nationals called the right-hander up June 8, but NL manager Charlie Manuel would like to see 21-year-old settle into his role as an ace before making the Midsummer Classic.
“I looked there and I felt like, in my opinion, and I’m not his manager, but at the same time he’s a young kid,” Manuel said. “I say let him pitch and let him get his feet on the ground in the major leagues and kind of let him earn his way.”
Strasburg watched the selection show on a clubhouse TV, but was called away by Nationals management after the first couple of pitchers were selected.
“I thought he had a pretty good shot,” Nationals closer and All-Star pick Matt Capps said. “He’s one of the top pitchers in baseball right now.”
Halladay pitched a perfect game in his first season with the Phillies, and Jimenez had one of the four no-hitters this year and is off to a remarkable 14-1 start with a 2.27 ERA for the Colorado Rockies.
Halladay’s teammate Chase Utley was voted as the starting second baseman for the NL, but he is out with an injured right thumb. He will be replaced in the lineup by Atlanta’s Martin Prado.
Tono makes roster
Yomiuri Giants right-hander Shun Tono was among the managers’ picks as the 28-man rosters were announced Monday for the upcoming All-Star series.
Tono, an 11-game winner this season in the Central League, and Hanshin Tigers outfielder Matt Murton, who is second in the league with a .343 batting average, were among six elected for the first time.
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles pitchers Satoshi Nagai and Tsuyoshi Kawagishi were chosen for the first time in the Pacific League.
With the conclusion of the managers’ picks, the 28-man rosters for each league, including those elected by fans and voted in by players, were decided to play in the All-Star series being held at Yahoo Dome and Niigata’s Hard Off Eco Stadium on July 23-24.
The Giants have the most players appearing with nine, followed by seven for the Chunichi Dragons and six for the Softbank Hawks. Closer Shun Yamaguchi, who was named by the manager, is the only player elected from the Yokohama BayStars.
The teams will add a final 29th player on July 14 as part of a commemoration of the 60th annual All-Star series.
Yomiuri manager Tatsunori Hara will skipper the CL team while Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters manager Masataka Nashida takes the reins for the PL squad.