NEW YORK (AP) — Bartolo Colon and Max Scherzer are headed to the All-Star Game, picked as replacements for other pitchers originally selected to the National League team.
Major League Baseball also announced Friday that Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders and San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt won the final two All-Star roster spots, elected by fans in online balloting.
“This is a proud moment for me and my family,” Saunders said. “Everyone knows that Canada takes care of their own. I’m Canadian through and through. Just to feel that support, the best way I can describe, everyone’s been asking me, is I feel loved by this country. To see the support they gave me is very humbling.”
Saunders joins the American League team, while Belt gets a slot on the NL squad.
“Extremely excited, obviously. It’s hard to put into words,” Belt said. “I just can’t believe that I’m an All-Star this year. It’s pretty cool, especially when you step back and think about how many fans voted and how many times they voted, how many messages that I got of how their thumbs were numb. It’s pretty overwhelming to think about.”
The 43-year-old Colon was chosen to replace Madison Bumgarner in Tuesday’s showcase in San Diego because the Giants ace is scheduled to pitch Sunday against Arizona.
A fan favorite with the New York Mets, Colon is 7-4 with a 3.28 ERA. He was picked by his own manager – Terry Collins of the Mets will lead the NL team.
“It means a lot, especially for someone my age,” Colon said through a translator. “It surprised me a lot.”
In one of the most stunning and charming moments of the season, Colon homered in San Diego in early May, becoming the oldest player to hit his first major league home run.
The hefty right-hander said the All-Star nod was very meaningful to him because he’s “in the final stages” of his career. He said he’d like to pitch one more season in the majors if healthy.
“When I asked him if he wanted to go the All-Star Game, he said yes. He didn’t say, hey, I need to rest, I’m 43 years old. I’m shot. He said, ‘Thank you, I’d like to go.’ So he’s going to go,” Collins said, drawing laughs.
Scherzer will substitute for Washington Nationals teammate Stephen Strasburg, who came off the disabled list this week and won’t pitch in the All-Star Game as a precaution. Strasburg, who is from San Diego, plans to attend the game, the Nationals said.
“Max was excited. Never seen a veteran guy as elated as he, to be a part of the All-Star Game,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said. “I think he’s a good representative to show people what a privilege and an honor it is to go.”
Strasburg started Friday night against the New York Mets, his second outing since coming off the DL. He returned from an upper back strain Sunday against Cincinnati.
“Because of Stephen’s injury that he just came off of, being on three days’ rest, it would have cost him time again with us,” Baker said. “So I’m just glad that he’s going, especially in his hometown. But there’s a lot of risk for Stephen since he just came off the DL and you don’t know how he’s going to come through this game tonight. So everybody decided it’d be better that he doesn’t start or pitch.”