UPDATE 10:06 A.M.: We won’t have access to the players until after the game, but the Mariners provided a quote from Don Wakamatsu on their All-Star selections, Cliff Lee and Ichiro.
“I’m very proud of both Cliff and Ichiro. I think they are both deserving and will do a tremendous job representing the Mariners and the American League.
“Both guys work very hard, every day, on preparing to be successful. It is great to see that recognized from the fans and their peers.
“At the same time, I’m disappointed for Felix. I think he’s pitched great, and if we’d given him a little better run support it might have been a different story. I know there are lots of deserving players, but I had hoped he would make it with Cliff and Ichi.
“Again, I want to congratulate Cliff and Ichiro, on behalf of their teammates and the Mariners organization, on a well-earned honor.”
The Mariners had two players selected to the American League All-Star team on Sunday, but pitcher Felix Hernandez was bypassed.
Making the squad were Ichiro and Cliff Lee . Lee is the Mariners’ starter today against the Tigers in the finale of a nine-game road trip. With trade rumors swirling around Lee, there is no guarantee the left-hander will still be wearing a Seattle uniform when the All-Star Game is played in Anaheim on July 13.
Ichiro was elected a starter in the outfield for the ninth time in his 10 Mariner seasons. Ichiro wasn’t voted a starter for the game in 2005, but made the squad as a reserve. He was the All-Star MVP in 2007 in San Francisco, when he hit the first (and still only) inside-the-park home run in All-Star history.
In 24 All-Star at-bats, Ichiro has eight hits for a .333 average, with that homer, a double, three runs scored, and four runs batted in. Heading into Sunday’s game, Ichiro is hitting .330, which ranks seventh in the American League. As the season reaches its numerical halfway point with today’s game, he has 108 hits, putting him on target for yet another 200-hit season. That would be his 10th straight, extending his major-league record.
Lee, who started the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium in his only previous All-Star appearance, is a candidate to be named AL starter again. Despite missing the first month with an abdominal strain, Lee leads the American League with five complete games. He has the third-lowest ERA (2.45) to go with a 7-3 record. But Lee’s most impressive statistic is his 78-to-5 strikeouts-to-walks total.
Hernandez, 24,was thwarted in his hopes of making the team for the second straight year. He is 6-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 17 starts, and is just behind Lee with three complete games. Hernandez leads the AL in innings pitched (121.2) and is third in strikeouts (116). He is coming off a two-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts against the Yankees, whose manager, Joe Girardi, will guide the AL squad.
A vote of players in each league determined eight pitching spots in each league, including five starters and three relievers. The remainder of the pitching staff was selected by the managers (Girardi and Philadelphia’s Charlie Manuel for the NL) in consultation with the commissioner’s office and other managers in the league.