KANSAS CITY, MO. – Miguel Sano lost the election, but there’s no need for a recount. He knows he won anyway.
The Twins’ slugging third baseman, who led AL All-Star voting at his position for the past month, finished second to Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez once all the ballots had been tabulated. But Sano will be going to Miami next week anyway, having been selected as one of the reserves on Terry Francona’s American League team.
He will be accompanied by teammate Ervin Santana, a pairing of Dominican stars that Sano, 24, predicted months ago. “I remember in spring training I told him, ‘We’re going to the All-Star Game together,’ ” Sano said. “So I’m glad that it is happening, that we get to go together and hopefully represent the team well.”
Santana’s advice to Sano is simple: Enjoy it. You never know how often such an opportunity will present itself. He understands that better than anyone, having earned a second trip to baseball’s midsummer glamour event nine years after his first. “It’s a long time without going to an All-Star Game,” Santana, a 2008 AL All-Star while with the Angels, said after receiving word from manager Paul Molitor that he had been selected again. “It means if you work hard and never give up,” you, too can be one of the game’s best.
Sano is hitting .262 with 20 home runs and is tied for third in the AL with 58 RBI. Santana is 10-5 with a 3.07 ERA and a major league-best three shutouts.
It’s the fourth time in five years the Twins have had two All-Stars, and Santana expressed hope the team could still send a third. Brandon Kintzler, who is tied for second in the American League with 21 saves, was passed over, and Santana thought Taylor Rogers — Kintzler’s chief setup man, with a 2.08 ERA — might be chosen at well. “If you get people out, you deserve to go,” Santana said. MLB normally adds pitchers to replace a handful who throw in weekend games and are unable to pitch a couple days later, “so maybe they’ll be selected,” Santana said. “Hopefully.”
For now, though, the Twins are ecstatic about having a pair of players in Miami, in addition to Sano’s participation in the Home Run Derby next Monday.
“I’m extremely happy for those guys. Ervin’s been our anchor since Day 1. … And Miggy’s a young player who’s kind of fought his way into a prominent role on this club as a leader and one of our biggest contributors,” Molitor said. “I would love to have seen him start that game. But at least he’s getting recognized.”
Even Sano’s first reaction was, “Am I starting?” But he’s not disappointed, he said — how could he be?
“It’s a goal I’ve always had as a young kid. So now that I get to do that, it’s pretty cool,” said Sano. “It’s awesome at such a young age, to be able to go to an All-Star Game. I know that my career is just starting, so there’s a lot of things that can happen, and hopefully it won’t be my last one.”
For Santana, it’s a chance to revel in one of the best seasons of his 13-year career, and relive the excitement he felt in Yankee Stadium in 2008. The nine-year gap between All-Star selections is the longest since Adam Dunn’s decade-long wait between his 2002 and 2012 appearances.
It also is reminiscent of another Twins righthander: Bert Blyleven’s two All-Star appearances came in 1973 and 1985.
This one “is probably more enjoyable, because in the first one, you don’t know what to do. Now I kind of have an idea what’s going on,” he said.
So what lesson did Santana learn in that 2008 game? Don’t shake off Joe Mauer.
He did, while pitching to Colorado outfielder Matt Holliday in the fifth inning of a scoreless game, and the ball wound up in the right-field bleachers.
But the American League eventually won anyway, in 15 innings, with Justin Morneau scoring the walk-off run.