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Sunday, July 3, 2011
Why Wilson, Price got picked over Sabathia

By Richard Durrett

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Minutes after the telecast announcing the 2011 All-Star team ended, AL manager Ron Washington was asked about not choosing Yankes pitcher CC Sabathia for his squad.

The players didn't put Sabathia in their top-5 starting pitchers, so it was up to Washington.

The manager chose his own pitcher, Rangers' left-handed starter C.J. Wilson, and Tampa Bay lefty David Price ahead of Sabathia. He did it despite Sabathia's 11 wins, tied for the most in the AL, and an ERA at 3.05, 15th in the AL.

But Washington has the advantage of seeing the entire player ballots. And he knew that Sabathia was sixth on the list. That puts him next in line to be selected to the game as a reserve if one of the other five pitchers starts the Sunday before the All-Star Game. The league has a rule that if you start the Sunday before the All-Star Game you are ineligible to pitch in the game and will be replaced by the next person on the player ballot.

Right now, Felix Hernandez, James Shields and Justin Verlander are scheduled to do just that. The chances that one of them ends up staying on rotation and making that start are very good.

Sabathia is also scheduled to pitch on Sunday. But as soon as one of those three pitchers in front of him throws a pitch, Sabathia makes the All-Star team. He would then be replaced if he pitches on Sunday. Still, he makes the team. He can go to Phoenix if he wants to and be introduced, he would get any bonus in his contract if there is one.

So why wouldn't Washington just pick him and then let him be replaced? Because he wanted Wilson and Price on the team and both guys may be too low on the player ballot to get in via replacement. He only needs one starter to become ineligible on that final Sunday to get Sabathia on the team. He may need a gaggle of them to get Wilson or Price.

“C.J. is very deserving," Washington said. "There wasn’t a whole lot of choices on left-handed relievers. C.J. had the experience of doing that. He’s deserving, as far as I’m concerned, of being on the All-Star team, so I chose him.”

Now that the team is picked, replacements are completely out of Washington's hands. Any injuries or Sunday starts by pitchers are replaced by guys voted on by the players.