The following is commentary and interviews from today's TBS All-Star Selection show.
Analyst commentary by David Wells, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Dennis Eckersley.
Player interviews with Evan Longoria of the Rays, and Chase Utley of the Phillies.
Interviews with All-Star managers Joe Maddon and Charlie Manuel.
(transcription courtesy of Turner Sports)
See complete 2009 MLB All-Star voting results, including player vote, as well as AL and NL stats for the selected All-Stars through Sat., July 4
Wells on Yankees shortstop and ten-time All-Star Derek Jeter: “(Jeter) is a phenom at shortstop. I was lucky in my career to have Cal Ripken and Tony Fernandez play behind me. When I went to New York and had this young kid (Jeter) play behind me after I played with Ripken, I didn’t miss a beat. This guy knows how to play the hitters and he positions himself well up the middle or in the hole and he makes these great plays.”
Ripken on Twins catcher and 2009 All-Star starter Joe Mauer: “The thing about Joe (Mauer) is that he makes it look easy all the way around and he’s always under control with the bat. He doesn’t seem to get fooled by a pitch, he waits a long time and he’s a batting champion. Don’t underestimate his power. I think as he plays the game longer, he’s got a chance to be a home run chance as well.”
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria joined the TBS studio show via satellite to discuss his first selection to the MLB All-Star team.
Longoria on if he has experienced the ‘sophomore slump’: “At the beginning of the year, I was really hot and got off to a good start. That was good for me after hearing about the ‘sophomore slump’ and how it’s tougher your second time around the league. I was excited to get off to that good of a start but I’ve noticed that teams are doing a lot more and changing up their plan when I come up to the plate and it’s been tough. I’ve had to make those adjustments and that’s fun for me to try and stay with them and keep enjoying being out there."
Longoria on the difference between this season and last season for the Rays: “Last year, we manufactured a lot of runs and (played) a lot of small ball. Late in the year we had a lot of big hits in big situations. This year, after playing in the postseason under the bright lights in front of all the fans, the games that you play on a normal basis become a little easier to play. I think a years-worth of experience and being in the postseason relaxed a lot of our hitters and allows them to play our game.”
Ripken on Marlins shortstop two-time All-Star Hanley Ramirez: “When scouts describe someone as a five-tool player, I get so tired of it because it seems like a gimmick. (Hanley Ramirez) has all the tools. The only flaw in his game is that he makes some errors at shortstop because he takes a lot of chances. But he keeps getting better and better. He’s the kind of guy you want to start a franchise with.”
Wells on Cardinals first baseman and NL All-Star starter Albert Pujols: “Albert Pujols doesn’t seem like he has any holes. He’s very intimidating; he stands up there, waits for his pitch and goes after it. So you can’t make a mistake with Albert Pujols.”
Eckersley on Mets third baseman and four-time All-Star David Wright: “I love the way (David Wright) plays the game. He plays the game hard, he’s a good offensive player and this year, he’s the last man standing with the Mets. He’s been a steady player and I love the way he’s gone about it.”
Phillies second baseman Chase Utley joined the TBS studio show via satellite after learning of his selection to the MLB All-Star team.
Utley on what player did he look up to when he was growing up: “There were a bunch of guys that I looked up to. Once I got to high school and I started developing a little bit, I was a huge (White Sox DH) Jim Thome fan. He was a guy that I really enjoyed watching. He’d hit the ball a mile and I’d try to intimidate that but it didn’t work out as well. He was the guy that I looked up to.”
Utley on teammate Raul Ibanez who made the All-Star Game for the first time in his career: “I’m so excited for Raul and he’s done an outstanding job for us this year. He plays great defense and he’s swinging the bat extremely well. He’s been a huge part of our success this season. He’s been banged up a little bit the last few weeks so hopefully he can come back soon and represent the National League (in the All-Star Game). He’s a guy who has been around a while and worked so hard and to make his first All-Star Game is pretty special.”
Eckersley on Giants pitcher and two-time All-Star Tim Lincecum: “I thought I had long moss (hair)…check out this kid’s moss. It’s down to his shoulders. They call him the “Freak”, last year’s Cy Young Award winner and this guy has got it all. He might be the best pitcher in the National League.”
Ripken on Mets pitcher and four-time All-Star Johan Santana: “(Johan Santana) is the most reliable starter. You know what you’re going to get (with him). His changeup comes out looking exactly like his fastball and he’ll use it anytime in any count. He attacks the strike zone with his changeup.”
Philadelphia Phillies manager and National League All-Star manager Charlie Manuel joined the TBS studio show to discuss making the final All-Star selections.
Manuel on the toughest position to fill on the NL All-Star roster: “First base is where we have all the big hitters. (Albert) Pujols was the fan favorite and he ran away with the (fan voting). I picked Ryan Howard from my team because I felt like I wanted him to go. I couldn’t by pass Prince Fielder and (Adrian) Gonzalez definitely deserves to be there. I think that was the toughest position because we overloaded it at first base.”
Manuel on struggling Phillies starter Cole Hamels: “Coming out of spring training, Cole (Hamels) had problems with his elbow. He also had a short winter and he pitched more for us last year than he’s used to. He’s learning how to pitch a full season at the Major League level. His velocity and his stuff is there but I think he’s had control issues.”
Ripken on Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield who was named to his first All-Star Game: “I loved facing Tim Wakefield because he could get into a softball stance when the ball gets up there. A knuckleballer has difficulty controlling the strike zone because he doesn’t know where (the ball) is going to go. Wakefield has done a remarkable job throughout his career at figuring out how to make adjustments and pitch in the strike zone. (It’s) well deserved and I’m really glad that he’s at the All-Star Game.”
Eckersley on Yankees pitcher and ten-time All-Star Mariano Rivera: “This guy is the classiest guy in the game. (He’s the) ‘Iceman” with no emotion, no pointing at people, no pointing to the sky. He’s about (post-game) handshakes, getting into the game and getting out. This guy is too cool for school.”
Ripken on Orioles outfielder and first-time All-Star Adam Jones: “(Adam Jones is) going to be a great player. He plays centerfield like (former Oriole) Paul Blair. He plays really shallow and if you hit one over his head, you have to earn it.”
Eckersley on Rays infielder and first-time All-Star Ben Zobrist: “(Ben Zobrist is) the biggest surprise of the year, no doubt about it”
Rays manager and American League All-Star manager Joe Maddon joined the TBS studio show to discuss his role in selecting the remaining American League All-Stars.
Maddon on picking first time All Stars Red Sox veteran Tim Wakefield and Athletics rookie Andrew Bailey: “With (Tim) Wakefield, I’ve been a fan of his for many years and he’s having a great season. It’s about time he got elected to an All-Star Game and I was happy to do that. With Andrew Bailey, he had to pick somebody from Oakland and we had played him earlier this season. He’s got electric stuff and he’s very aggressive in the strike zone. He throws strikes and he’s done a great job for the A’s this year.”
Maddon on Tigers pitcher Edwin Jackson who he managed in Tampa: “I’m happy for Edwin (Jackson), he was a big part of what he did last year. He’s a tremendous young talent. We knew that at any time, he could turn into this type of pitcher.”
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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