BOSTON -- Part of the collateral damage from the Red Sox's first-half struggles came clear on Sunday, when Jon Lester was the team's lone representative named to the American League All-Star squad (although a second member, Koji Uehara, is in line to eventually pick up a spot).
Lester, who earned his third All-Star selection, still talks about the honor with stars in his eyes.
“This is what you want to do as a kid. You watch All-Star Games, you watch the playoffs on TV and you dream about one day hopefully being in that position,” Lester said. “And to live that dream and have that opportunity to go to three All-Star Games, and two World Series rings -- I don’t want to say it’s a dream come true because hopefully I have a few more World Series in me and all the other stuff to go along with it. Everyone in this room dreams about it as a kid.”
The selection of Lester by Red Sox manager John Farrell is easily justified by the numbers.
Lester made a strong stamp on his All-Star resume in May when he fanned a career-high 15 batters in a win over Oakland. He followed that up with seven more strong starts. Since the beginning of June, Lester is 4-1 with an ERA of 1.65, striking out 39 batters in 49 innings and allowing just eight walks. He posted an ERA of 1.98 for the month of June, his best full month in nearly four years.
Currently, Lester ranks seventh in the AL in ERA (2.73) and strikeouts (122), and is tied for eighth in wins (9). Among AL lefties, Lester is second only to Tampa Bay’s David Price in K’s, and third to Toronto’s Mark Buehrle and Oakland’s Scott Kazmir in wins.
Farrell said that Lester and Uehara, who Farrell said is the first alternate replacement, have been playing “All-Star caliber baseball this entire first half of the season.”
“When you look at what Jon’s been able to do in terms of where he stacks up with other starters -- top five or top six in most pitching categories -- he has earned the selection,” Farrell said.
While it’s assumed that Uehara eventually will be added to the AL squad -- several starters are lined up to pitch on Sunday -- the reliever was cautious when approached about the All-Star Game. Asked through a translator if he was surprised about not getting selected initially, Uehara said, “No, not at all,” adding with a laugh, “I have some things to do during the All-Star break myself.”
Ortiz and Pedroia expressed similar indifference despite their popularity in the polls. Ortiz finished third among AL designated hitters with 2.4 million votes, while Pedroia finished fourth among AL second basemen with 1.8 million.
Pedroia laughed when asked about any disappointment, saying “[I’m going to] get some sleep, man.”
Ortiz had several conversations with Farrell about his potential selection, with Ortiz essentially ceding his spot.
“I’m a fan of guys who have had a really, really good first half making the All-Star Game, and there’s a couple guys ahead of me this year at my position,” Ortiz said. “We had a conversation, and [Farrell] asked me how I feel about it, and I said I just don’t feel like taking those guys’ places.
"I don’t think it’s fair to guys like Nelson Cruz and Victor [Martinez] and [Edwin] Encarnacion, who are having unbelievable seasons, they don’t have as many All-Star Games as I have. You just keep it real. They’re having a better season than what I’m having, and they well deserved it.”