Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, Craig Kimbrel to represent Red Sox at All-Star Game
TORONTO — For Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel, being selected to the All-Star Game isn’t taken for granted, but it’s something they have become accustomed to.
Mookie Betts is starting to understand how they feel.
Betts, Kimbrel, and Sale will represent the Red Sox in Miami on July 11, all three selected in voting by the players. Xander Bogaerts is one of five candidates on the Final Vote ballot. The online voting will be conducted this week.
“Knowing that your peers think you’re a good player, that’s pretty cool,” Betts said on Sunday. “Just go in and enjoy the ride.”
It was the sixth consecutive All-Star selection for the 28-year-old Sale. He has appeared in the game four times, getting the start last season.
“It’s still special,” Sale said. “Being on a new team, being in a new city makes it a little bit more special, too.”
Sale makes his next start for the Red Sox on Thursday, which would leave him fully rested to start against the National League on July 11. American League manager Terry Francona is not expected to announce his starter until the day before.
Sale would be an easy choice. He is 11-3 with a 2.61 earned run average and leads the majors with 166 strikeouts. The Sox are 13-4 in the games he has started.
“When he walks to the mound, we’ve got a pretty good feel we’re going to win,” manager John Farrell said.
For Sale, who is from Lakeland, Fla., an All-Star Game in the state will be special, if only because he can drive to his home in Naples afterward and enjoy a few days off with his family. Plus the Red Sox play at Tampa Bay before the break.
“It’s perfect,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation. I get to go to my house and spend some more time down there with family.”
Kimbrel is an All-Star for the sixth time in seven full seasons in the majors. The 29-year-old righthander is perhaps the most dominant player in the game this season. Kimbrel has allowed four runs on 12 hits over 35⅔ innings and struck out 64. Opponents have hit only .100 against him.
“It’s an honor. Sixth All-Star Game now, feels kind of crazy to think about,” Kimbrel said. “The experience is still going to be fun, getting to take my family down there and spend two days in Miami.”
Kimbrel didn’t play in the exhibition last season because of a knee injury that required surgery.
The American League could have Sale start and Kimbrel close.
“It’d be neat,” Kimbrel said. “I haven’t had that opportunity, to get that last out of the game. It would be pretty cool, definitely, if Chris did start.”
Said Sale: “That would be fun.”
Betts was voted in as a starter last season. This season has been more uneven for him, but he is hitting .286 with 27 doubles, 15 homers, and 51 RBIs.
“Obviously I want to be more consistent and do a little better coming up in some spots where I can help the team,” Betts said.
Betts was 4 for 6 with two home runs and eight RBIs in Sunday’s 15-1 victory against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In the post-David Ortiz era, Betts has become the focal point of the offense, even as its leadoff hitter.
“Nobody can take the place of David,” Betts said. “The only thing I can do is be Mookie and that’s all I’m trying to do.”
Bogaerts, a first-time All-Star in 2016, is hitting .314 with 29 extra-base hits, and 39 RBIs. He was on the Final Ballot in 2015 but did not get in, finishing far behind Mike Moustakas of the Royals.
“We’ll see what happens. In the end it’s good to have another chance,” Bogaerts said.
The other Final Vote candidates in the AL are shortstops Elvis Andrus of Texas and Didi Gregorius of the Yankees, Rays first baseman Logan Morrison, and Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.