Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman will be making his third consecutive trip to the All-Star game while starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, catcher Devin Mesoraco and third baseman Todd Frazier are going for the first time.
Actually, for Frazier, the July 15 contest in Minneapolis will mark his second trip to the All-Star game but first as a player after attending the 1996 game in Philadelphia as a 10-year-old fan, a memory that reinforced just how special Sunday’s announcement was.
“I’m juiced,” he said. “It’s a dream come true. I remember being a kid sitting in the last row at Veterans Stadium out in left field. I could barely see anything. Mike Piazza hit a home run that day. That’s the kind of stuff I’ll never forget.”
Nor will he forget what it took to get to this point in his career, where he’s hitting .291 with 17 home runs and 47 RBIs – both of which are team highs – and is recognized as one of the best in the game after five long years in the minors.
“You think back to the days where sometimes I was like ‘What am I doing here?’” Frazier said. “Some days are better than others and you’re on 14-hour bus rides. It’s awesome to see that hard work pays off . I was smiling ear to ear when I heard it. I really can’t believe it.”
Frazier, Cueto and Chapman were voted to the team by the players, while Mesoraco was picked by NL manager Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals, a former catcher.
“That absolutely makes it special because Mike is a former catcher who was very, very respected at his craft and was known as someone who really loved the position,” Mesoraco said. “He was an outstanding defender, and he was somebody guys wanted to throw to. For him to recognize what I’ve done to this point and select me to play on his team, that means a lot.”
Despite two stints on the disabled list, Mesoraco is hitting .317 with 15 home runs and a team-high 42 RBIs.
Cueto is 8-6 with an NL-best 1.99 ERA, while Chapman has 17 saves in 19 chances with a 2.55 ERA.
Reds manager Bryan Price told the four they had made the All-Star team during a team meeting following Sunday’s 4-2 win against Milwaukee.
“The thing that stood out beyond the obvious excitement of the players who made the club was the excitement behind it from their teammates,” Price said. “I really believe in that. I think we need to be pulling for each other and excited for each other and not just individually but collectively with what we’re trying to do here.
“We’ve had guys who have had excellent seasons, and we’ve had guys who haven’t been named to the club that I hope would maybe get some consideration if there’s room on roster if there’s injuries or if there are issues with starting pitching,” Price added.
One of those players likely to be considered for addition if a spot opens is pitcher Alfredo Simon, who is 11-3 with a 2.78 ERA is his first season as a starter.