CHICAGO -- It seems that everybody was certain Starlin Castro had made the National League All-Star team except for Starlin Castro.
As Sunday morning turned to afternoon, the Cubs shortstop had lost hope. Apparently last season former manager Mike Quade told Castro he had made it on the morning of selection day. So as Castro took batting practice Sunday, he figured it wasn’t going to happen.
“It’s different because this year I’m a little bit nervous because he told me late,” Castro said. “Last year when I came here in the morning he tell me right away. But today I go to practice and say, ‘Why nobody say anything to me? I don’t go or what?’ Then Dale [Sveum] did the meeting and told me. I said, ‘OK, deep breath.’ "
The Cubs manager elected to tell the team in group-meeting fashion before Sunday’s series finale against the Houston Astros. Castro was the slam dunk selection, but then came the surprise when Sveum announced Bryan LaHair had made it into the All-Star Game as well.
“I just couldn't stop staring at the [information] package, I was kinda like in awe,” LaHair said. “It's like another dream that came true for me.”
Sveum was also holding a third information pack, which Castro was hoping would go to Alfonso Soriano. Instead it went to first-base coach Dave McKay, who earned the honor for being on the coaching staff of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals last season.
It still wasn’t a bad All-Star haul for the Cubs, who started the day with the worst winning percentage in baseball.
For Castro it’s his second honor, while LaHair will obviously be making his first All-Star Game appearance.
“It was a dream as a little boy to be an All-Star,” said the 29-year-old LaHair, who had been somewhat of a minor-league journeyman before this season. “But to think that it was going to happen this fast or at all, it's really tough to get into that game. I'm just really thankful for the players to vote me in.”
Indications are that LaHair finished second in the players’ vote among National League first baseman, while Castro won the players’ vote at shortstop.
“[Cubs players] were excited for me,” LaHair said. “They all told me before the votes were counted and stuff they all voted for me, so they all congratulated me, gave me a hug, shook my hand, but it was a great feeling.
“It's just an incredible feeling, really. I'm so thankful for those guys and I can't thank them enough. It's just an incredible opportunity for me.”
Making things easier for LaHair is the fact that Castro can show him around. Castro’s All-Star Game debut was last year and said he was a late arrival at the players’ hotel and didn’t know what he was expected to do or where he was supposed to go.
“Yeah, I will take him with me,” Castro promised.
Like LaHair, Castro said appearing in an All-Star Game is a dream come true from his youth.
“It’s impressive for me, big time, because it’s unbelievable,” Castro said. “As a little kid I saw a lot of baseball games, a lot of good players that make All-Star Games and I say ‘Oh my gosh, it’s unbelievable. I want to be one day in there.’ Now it’s my second one but it’s not stopping here. I will keep working hard to make some more.”