PHOENIX — Much is being made of the big names absent from this year’s all-star game, yet some who are hurt came anyway to show their support.
Take Jose Reyes of the New York Mets, who says he has been hurt three of the four times he has made the All-Star team, but has come to the game each time.
Or Philadelphia’s Shane Victorino. He withdrew because of injury but felt a special obligation to show up because he was the final player chosen for the NL team out five in an online vote by fans.
Several other all-star selections who won’t play made the trip, some of them injured, some ineligible because they pitched on Sunday.
But some of the biggest names are no-shows, most notably Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, who has had a calf injury but was well enough to go 5 for 5 and get his 3,000th hit with a dramatic home run on Saturday. Jeter decided not to make the cross-country trip to the desert.
“I think it’s too bad that Jeter in particular is not here, because of what he accomplished over the weekend,” Philadelphia Phillies chairman Bill Giles, the honorary NL president, said at a Monday news conference, “and I think it is a bit of a problem and baseball should study it.”
Boston’s David Ortiz said people should cut Jeter some slack.
“He always said yes to the all-star game,” the Boston slugger said of his Yankees rival.
“I think he has the right to, whenever he needs a break you know, to pull himself together, especially coming off an injury. I think people need to respect that.”
The Yankees’ Mariano Rivera also skipped the game because of a triceps injury.
But Reyes, from that other New York team, didn’t let a hamstring injury prevent him from coming to Arizona to at least witness the festivities.
“Every time I’ve had the opportunity to come here I’m going to come, no matter what happens,” Reyes said.
“Like I said, three of the last four years in the all-star game I’ve been injured, but I still come here.”
Victorino sprained a ligament in his right thumb on July 4 and went on the 15-day DL last week, just as fans were making him their choice out of the final five listed to make the NL squad.
“My trainers and I talked about staying in Philly and getting my finger better and trying to get back healthy,” Victorino said, “but I’m like ‘Well, I can do the same things here that I can do in Philly so I’d like to come and be with my teammates, being around players that are deserving. One, I got voted in and I want to tip my hat to the fans and say thank you and represent the National League.”
But he said each situation is different. Alex Rodriguez just had arthroscopic knee surgery, so obviously he can’t come.
“Derek Jeter just got 3,000 hits. I’m sure he has a lot on his plate,” Victorino said.
One big-name player who wanted to come but wasn’t selected is St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols, who came back from a broken wrist a month ahead of schedule, Teammate Matt Holliday, an NL starter, said the early return from injury may have surprised those who pick the team. Had he not been injured, Pujols undoubtedly would have been on the team, Holliday said.
“I don’t know who makes those decisions and how they’re factored in,” he said, “but it’s kind of weird not having what I would consider the best player here.”
Holliday said he would never miss the game.
“Even if I was hurting, I would come,” he said. “just to be a part of the experience.”