Molina, Beltran, Furcal and Lynn selected to All-Star Game
Sunday, July 1, 2012
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Finishing second in the National League All-Star balloting may have a silver lining for Yadier Molina.
The St. Louis Cardinals catcher probably won’t have to worry about being on the receiving end of R.A. Dickey’s elusive knuckleball. The Mets pitcher led the National League with 12 victories to go with a 2.15 ERA and could be named the starting pitcher for the July 10 game in Kansas City.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, a former catcher, had been fretting a bit about the difficulty of handling a knuckleballer for a catcher who doesn’t do it on a regular basis.
“Once you get into a good guess at where it might go, because that’s all you’re going to have, the more you catch them the more comfortable you’re going to be,” Matheny said Sunday before the vote totals were announced. “It’s a completely different setup — your hand position, your stance — so for him to jump in there for one day it’s a tall order.”
Molina hadn’t been concerned about not having much experience handling the knuckleball. The four-time Gold Glove winner also is having his best season offensively with 13 homers, one off his total from last year, and a .312 average.
“Do you see me worried about it?” Molina said Sunday after homering in a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. “Whatever pitcher I need to catch, I’ll catch him.”
Outfielder Carlos Beltran and shortstop Rafael Furcal were voted in as starters by fans, while Molina was second behind the Giants’ Buster Posey.
Beltran led the NL with 61 RBI and was second with 20 homers, and has made it all the way back from serious knee surgery. The former Kansas City Royals player will start in the city where he began his career and participate in the Home Run Derby.
“It’s a rewarding accomplishment for everything that I’ve gone through,” Beltran said. “Being able to come back and play at the level I’m playing, it’s just a great feeling.”
Furcal was the fans’ choice despite an offensive dropoff. He led NL leadoff men with 31 RBI but was batting just .179 since June, dropping his average to .280.
“It’s very exciting,” Furcal said. “We have a lot of guys that are having a great year.”
Lance Lynn, a 10-game winner in his first year in the rotation, was voted to the pitching staff by the players. Before Chris Carpenter was sidelined by a nerve injury in his pitching shoulder, Lynn had been ticketed for bullpen duty.
A scintillating start by Lynn, the first NL pitcher to eight wins, overshadowed recent struggles. Since combing for 23 strikeouts in consecutive victories earlier this month, the 25-year-old right-hander has given up 17 runs and 25 hits in 151⁄3 innings.
“The last three have been not-so-great, but they thought I did well enough to vote me in, the players did,” Lynn said. “It’s just a great honor that those guys thought that highly of me.”
A fifth player from the defending World Series champions, third baseman David Freese, is among five candidates in final-round fan balloting that ends Thursday.
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