Yasiel Puig a hot All-Star topic, but there are closer calls all over the diamond

  • Article by: MIKE FITZPATRICK , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: July 5, 2013 - 3:40 PM

NEW YORK — Lost in all the commotion about Yasiel Puig are the trickiest predicaments when it comes to the All-Star game.

Look at that logjam at third base in the American League!

The National League is overloaded with pitchers.

And who in the name of old Jack Murphy Stadium is going to represent the San Diego Padres?

So while the polarizing debate over whether Puig should be selected Saturday is certainly a juicy one, when all is said and done he'll either have a backup role in the NL outfield or he won't. The most difficult decisions involve other positions.

Buster Posey or Yadier Molina behind the plate for the NL? Robinson Cano or Dustin Pedroia at second base in the AL?

At the hot corner, Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera is having another monster season. OK, he's the starter for the junior circuit.

But then there's an overabundance of deserving backups: Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria, Oakland's Josh Donaldson, Texas' Adrian Beltre and Baltimore's Manny Machado.

"I'm not going to take five third basemen to the All-Star game," said Detroit's Jim Leyland, who will manage the American League team July 16 at Citi Field in New York.

So somebody gets left out. Let's just say it's Longoria. Then who makes it from the Rays?

Every club must have an All-Star, and rosters are limited to 34 spots — with at least 13 going to pitchers.

So maybe it's left-hander Matt Moore from Tampa Bay. Pretty good choice. But then a more worthy arm from some other squad gets snubbed.

And on and on.

That's the maddening part of putting together the puzzle — and the beauty of it all, too. Sizzling baseball arguments in the heat of summer.

"This hardest part is leaving guys off. That's by far the hardest thing. It goes with the territory when you pick a team. There is more written about the snubs than the guys that make it," said San Francisco's Bruce Bochy, the NL manager.

"The toughest positions to pick are on the pitching side. That's a tough position because there are a lot of guys who've had a really good half, both starters and relievers. Maybe outfield is tough, too."

Several big names were on their way to this All-Star game before injuries derailed them: Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Braun, Clay Buchholz.

Bryce Harper could fall into that category, though he wasn't far behind in fan balloting for a starting outfield spot.

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