The commissioner’s office, in its ongoing quest to never again run out of players in an All-Star game, announced today that the All-Star squads will be expanded by one for the upcoming game (July 14 in St. Louis), from 32 to 33 players.
The extra player will be a pitcher (the staff for each league expands from 12 to 13) to be chosen by the managers (Charlie Manuel for the National League, Joe Maddon for the American League).
I’d say Felix Hernandez is now a lock to be on the AL squad, but this extra spot helps two Seattle pitchers that could be on the bubble: David Aardsma and Jarrod Washburn. (By the way, I’ll reveal my All-Star picks in Sunday’s Seattle Times).
Aardsma, who was selected to the All-Star team chosen by Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci earlier this week (along with Hernandez, Ichiro and Russ Branyan), has statistics that are comparable to any short reliever (including Mariano Rivera), but may not have the requisite cachet to make the cut. Every extra available spot helps him, as well as Washburn, who needs Maddon to look past the 4-5 record and examine his numbers more closely. He’s still a longshot, but Maddon might have a soft spot for Washburn based on their Anaheim days together.