SEATTLE -- There was a bit of surprise when David Ortiz learned of his selection as an American League All-Star.
That he was named the starting DH certainly was expected. He has been the Red Sox’s Mr. Everything this season, coming into Sunday with a .305 average, 21 homers and 53 RBIs, all team highs.
What surprised Ortiz was that he was the only Red Sox player named. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.254 with 15 homers and 37 RBIs) didn’t make it. Perennial All-Stars Dustin Pedroia (limited to .263 with five homers and 31 RBIs largely because of a thumb injury) wasn’t a candidate, either. Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford haven't been healthy all season.
So it’s up to Ortiz to carry the Boston banner at the All-Star Game a week from Tuesday in Kansas City. This is the first time since 2001 that the Red Sox have had only one All-Star representative.
"This is my eighth (selection), and it’s the first time I’m going by myself,’’ Ortiz said. "I hope it’s not boring. I like hanging out with my boys.
"You don’t see this club only getting one guy. We’ve got a lot of All-Star players here. And we always go as a group. But we’ve had a lot of injuries.
"I can only say that I hope this is the last time that I go alone.’’
It’s been a good year for Ortiz, who has risen from the ashes of a miserable 2009 season (.238) to again be considered one of the most deadly hitters in the game.
Manager Bobby Valentine has had more turnover in his lineup than he’d care to reflect on, but he’s always been able to pencil Ortiz into the middle of the order knowing that he was going to get production on a consistent basis.
"I’m not good at talking about how important someone is to the team,’’ Valentine said. "But David has been consistently excellent. When he comes to the plate, everything stops. And usually something good happens.
"For the first part of the season there’s not anything that anyone else could have asked from David.’’
One thing Ortiz will take great pleasure in doing this year is letting someone else put on a show during the Home Run Derby. Based on past experience, he suggests that it’s a younger man’s game.
So he’ll hang around on the field with his kids and watch the show the day before the game. After all, he's part kid himself.
"My dad tells me 'you look like a little kid’ when I’m out there,’’ Ortiz said. "Last year was the first time that I got tired of the home run thing. I guess age is catching up with Papi.’’
The thing is, Ortiz doesn’t really believe that. He’s 36 now and has been playing pro ball for almost two decades since originally signing with the Mariners back in 1993. He doesn’t really believe in getting old. He worked on his diet and conditioning in the offseason, and he’s more than held Father Time to a standoff.
Age is in the mind,’’ he said. "If you take care of yourself, you’ll be OK. That’s the reason Jamie Moyer still feels like he can still come back. You learn in this league that if you take care of yourself, you can still put up numbers.
"I’m not going to lie to you. I did (dieting and conditioning work) for my health. I wasn’t focused on baseball. But it has helped me a lot. I used to wake up (groaning). Now I wake up and I’m excited. I’m energized.’’
And it comes across every time he steps on the field.