Red Sox land three on All-Star team
ANAHEIM, Calif. — David Ortiz is going back to the All-Star Game and this time he’s bringing some teammates.
A year after Ortiz was the lone representative for the Red Sox, he was joined by Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz on the American League roster.
Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara is one of five candidates for the final spot on the roster. The winner will be determined by online fan voting.
The game is July 16 at Citi Field in New York.
“It was weird last year,” Ortiz said on Saturday. “It’ll be good to have some more Red Sox around.”
Ortiz was the overwhelming winner to start at DH with 6.2 million votes. Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion was second with 2.5 million. Pedroia was selected as a reserve infielder.
Ortiz has been an All-Star in nine of the last 10 seasons, the most of any player.
Ortiz and Bobby Doerr are tied for the third-most All-Star selections in Red Sox history. Only Carl Yastrzemski (18) and Ted Williams (17) have more.
Ortiz went into Saturday night’s game against the Angels hitting .321 with 17 home runs and 61 RBIs in 68 games this season.
His 1.024 OPS was the third highest in baseball.
Ortiz missed the final 2½ months of last season with a strained Achilles’ tendon and started this season on the disabled list.
“When the fans pick you, it’s because they want to see you play,” Ortiz said. “It’s great to be going again.”
Pedroia is now a four-time All-Star after going two years without being selected. He is hitting .323 with a .404 on-base percentage and has started all but one game this season.
Pedroia has 30 extra-base hits, 49 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases.
“There are a lot of great second basemen in the American League, so it’s pretty special,” Pedroia said. “The game means something, so we have to go win.”
Buchholz is 9-0 with a 1.71 earned run average. He has not pitched since June 8 because of a shoulder injury. Major League Baseball named Oakland’s Bartolo Colon to replace him on the roster but Buchholz will go to New York to be part of the festivities.
“It’s an honor to be a part of it and be around the guys who are the best in the league,” he said. “I’m excited about. I just wish I was healthy and could pitch.”
Buchholz was an All-Star in 2010 but did not pitch because of an injury.
The 38-year-old Uehara was an All-Star in Japan but not since he came to the majors in 2009. Through Friday, he had appeared in 39 games and was 2-0 with five saves.
Uehara had a 1.95 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. Over 37 innings he has walked eight and struck out 52.
“If I get actually chosen, I’m probably going to explode with excitement,” Uehara said through interpreter C.J. Matsumoto. “I didn’t think I was in a position to be chosen this year for the All-Star team. I don’t know what to feel.”
In previous years, Japanese players have done well in the final vote with the backing of their homeland. Former Red Sox pitcher Hideki Okajima made the team via that route in 2007.
Uehara joked that fans in Japan might not support him.
“I’m not sure if that will be the case for me,” he said.
“I’m not popular,” Uehara said in English.
Good track record
John Lackey helped the Angels win the World Series as a rookie in 2002 then became the ace of their staff. But after eight seasons and 102 victories, the Angels let the righthander leave as a free agent without making what he considered a good-faith offer.
Lackey has had a tumultuous four seasons with the Red Sox. But what has been consistent is his success against his former team.
Lackey is 4-1 with a 4.32 ERA in five starts against the Angels. In two starts at Angel Stadium he has allowed two runs over 15⅓ innings and won both games.
On Sunday night, Lackey will face the Angels again and one of his best friends in the game, Jered Weaver.
Lackey returns amid one of the best streaks of his career. He is 5-1 with a 2.26 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in his last nine starts. Lackey has gone at least seven innings in his last four starts.
Lackey is coming off his best outing of the season. He held the San Diego Padres to one run over eight innings on Tuesday at Fenway Park.
Lackey faced Weaver on July 27, 2010 at Angel Stadium. The Sox won the game, 4-2. Lackey allowed two runs over 7⅓ innings and Weaver two over seven.
When Ortiz connected in the eighth inning Friday night, it was the fifth pinch-hit home run of the season for the Red Sox. The team record of six was set in 1953.
Through Friday, Sox pinch hitters were 12 of 40 (.300) with eight extra-base hits and 11 RBIs.
The Tigers, with 12, are the only American League team with more pinch-hit RBIs. The Sox have the highest pinch-hit OPS in the AL at 1.114.
It was the first pinch hit of the season for Ortiz. He is 16 of 86 (.186) as a pinch hitter in his career, 5 for 33 in the last 10 years.
“It’s not something I really like,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz took a strike from Dane De La Rosa then lined a home run over the fence in right field to give the Sox a 5-2 lead in a game they went on to win, 6-2.
It was Ortiz’s first pinch-hit homer since May 29, 2011, in Detroit and the fifth of his career.
“Swing and hit it. I got lucky,” Ortiz said.
Big Papi didn’t seem overly impressed with his feat.
“Just another homer,” he said. “I’m used to it. Are you? Enjoy it. This ain’t forever.”
Napoli building up
The Sox were up three runs when Mike Napoli hit a long home run to center field in the ninth inning Friday, so the impact on the game was minor. But for Napoli, it was an important swing.
It was Napoli’s first home run since June 1 and only his third extra-base hit in 23 games.
“It’s something I can build off of,” Napoli said. “I’m just going at-bat to at-bat. Trying to grind out at-bats and feel good in the box with my timing and seeing the ball. If my foot is down and my hands are in a certain position where I can fire and not be rushed, I’m a better hitter.”
Napoli connected on a 95-mile-per-hour fastball from Michael Kohn and sent the ball halfway up the grassy hill in center field.
Farrell saw the home run as an encouraging sign. After a strong April, Napoli has tailed off. The Red Sox need his righthanded power to balance Ortiz in the middle of the lineup.
“Any time you get one of our regulars swinging the bat well, it’s going to lengthen out the lineup,” Farrell said.
Holt joins team
The Red Sox called up infielder Brock Holt and started him at third base. Jonathan Diaz was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket. Holt hit .263 with 18 RBIs in 60 games for Pawtucket. Holt, who also can play second base and shortstop, would likely have been called up earlier but he was recovering from a strained rib cage muscle. Diaz played in five games and was 0 for 4 . . . Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have been on the disabled list all season for the Yankees but have started minor league rehabilitation assignments. There is a chance they return to the New York lineup for the series at Fenway Park that starts July 19.