The Braves are sending Dan Uggla and Craig Kimbrel to Kansas City for the All-Star game and either Chipper Jones or Michael Bourn could join them there if they’re voted in as part of Major League Baseball’s “Final Vote.”
Uggla was voted into All-Star game as the National League’s starter at second base which he called a “huge honor.”
This will be Uggla’s third All-Star game and first as a starter. He made it twice as a Marlin in 2006 and 2008 as a reserve behind Chase Utley. His 2008 experience was soured when he committed three errors at second base at Yankee Stadium.
“Unfortunately that’s what people remember me by,” Uggla said. “Especially playing in Florida, that’s really the only time a lot of people around the country got to see me play. But I still loved the experience and although I would have liked to have done better, I still wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Uggla expects he’ll have to answer more questions about it this time, but said he’ll “own up to it” like he did that night. He is, though, looking forward to having a chance to show a national audience the kind of second baseman he really is.
“I’ve been wanting to go back ever since and finally got a chance to do it this year,” Uggla said.
Kimbrel made his second consecutive All-Star team but this time he came through the front door – being named to the initial roster. Kimbrel made it as a rookie last year as a last-minute replacement for Giants pitcher Matt Cain. Kimbrel didn’t find out until he was on the Braves charter heading home from Philadelphia for the All-Star break that he would be changing planes in Atlanta and heading for Phoenix.
“I still enjoyed it a lot last year, but there might be a little less stress with the traveling and everything this year,” said Kimbrel, who got to have breakfast at an event last year with Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks. “Last year I really didn’t know what to expect. This year I have a little bit more of an idea and maybe I can soak it up a little more.”
Kimbrel earned a second trip with a dominant first half. He’s tied for the major league lead in saves with 23 to go along with a 1.50 ERA and a .126 opponents’ batting average.
National League manager Tony La Russa might have left his toughest decision up to the voters. Soon-to-be-retiring third baseman Jones is among five players on the final player vote, along with Bourn, Nationals rookie outfielder Bryce Harper, Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill, and Cardinals third baseman David Freese.
Kauffman Stadium is the one current stadium in Major League Baseball where Jones has never played.
“This being my last year obviously it would be fun to go,” Jones said. “I’d love to take my kids to an All-Star game, so we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s a win-win either way.”
Fans have until Thursday at 4 p.m. to vote for the final selection, which will be announced shortly thereafter. Harper, for one, said he’d vote for Chipper Jones
“I think a Hall of Famer should be able to go to the All-Star game his last year,” Harper told reporters after the Nationals beat the Braves Sunday afternoon. “If I was going to make a vote, I’d go vote for Chip.”
Bourn has sparked the Braves offense from the leadoff spot this season, hitting .302 with 15 doubles, four triples, a career-high seven home runs, and 22 stolen bases. He made the All-Star team in 2010 with the Astros. He could also make the team as a replacement for Dodger Matt Kemp, a starter in the outfield who’s been out with a hamstring injury.
Brian McCann’s record franchise streak of six All-Star games in his first six full seasons ended as Buster Posey, Carlos Ruiz and Yadier Molina were named National League catchers. McCann is hitting only .226, his lowest average ever at this point in a season.
“I haven’t played very good this year,” said McCann, who will miss the All-Star game for the first time since 2005 when he was called up to the major leagues for the first time in June. “It’s an honor but when you don’t play up to your standards, I’ve got other things on my mind. I’ve got to get this thing turned around.”