O's to have commanding presence at All-Star Game
Davis, Hardy, Jones will start for AL; Machado named a reserve
NEW YORK-- The Orioles are back on the map, and baseball has taken notice.
Baltimore will be one of the most visible clubs at the 84th All-Star Game, with four players selected to play for the American League. The Orioles will have three starters -- Chris Davis, Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy -- for the first time since 1997, and four participants for the first time since 2005.
Manny Machado, who celebrated his 21st birthday on Saturday, is the fourth All-Star.
Manager Buck Showalter said that the team had a few other compelling candidates. Nick Markakis and Jim Johnson might not be All-Stars, he said, but the Orioles are proud of their first-half performance.
"I'm real proud of [all of] them," said Showalter. "You look at the competition for these spots, [and] I'm real proud of all of them. And some other guys, too, who weren't even in the voting. It's a nice moment for the organization and for the players and, more important, the fans. They really turned out and supported our guys, so I'm really proud of our fans, too."
Some of Baltimore's picks went down to the wire, with Markakis placing fourth in the final balloting update but unable to make up ground.
"It's going to be awesome, having that many guys, especially three starters," said Jones. "You're going to see some of the cornerstone positions -- first, center field and shortstop -- will have O's across their chest. I think that's a pretty strong statement from a baseball standpoint."
For Davis, batting .324 with a league-high 33 home runs, the All-Star selection was a foregone conclusion. It's his first trip to the All-Star Game, and he earned additional acclaim as the overall leading vote-getter. It will also be the first All-Star start for both Jones and Hardy; all four are excited about the chance to represent the team.
"It still feels good," said Davis. "I think any time you are getting that recognition -- not only from your fan base but from everybody across the nation -- I think it feels good to know that people are watching. I think what we did last year toward the end of the season really kind of opened people's eyes to the fact that there's some good baseball being played in Baltimore. And the fact that we have a number of guys going to the All-Star Game again this year just shows that we're doing something right."
Jones, Johnson and catcher Matt Wieters went to the All-Star Game last year; before that the Orioles hadn't had a single starter since Miguel Tejada and Brian Roberts in 2005.
Davis, who is the first player in history to have 30 or more homers and 25 or more doubles by the end of June, has had arguably the most impressive first half by anyone in baseball. He broke Brady Anderson's club record for the most homers before the break, and he's the first Orioles first baseman to earn a starting nomination for the AL since Eddie Murray in 1985.
Davis, named the AL Player of the Month in April, has hit nine or more home runs in each of the first three months of the season and could become the first Oriole to do it in four. He has already matched career highs in both home runs (33) and RBIs (85), set last season.
"I'm pretty low-key. I'm pretty boring outside of baseball," he said of his recent star-turn. "I think last year was kind of my breakout year because it was the first opportunity that I've had to play every day for a full season. And it might have been my last opportunity if I hadn't done as well as I had."
Jones, a three-time All-Star, was named the Most Valuable Oriole in each of the past two seasons. He was the club's lone All-Star in 2009 and finished sixth in AL MVP voting last year. The team's primary cleanup hitter, he ranks among the AL top 10 in runs, hits, doubles and RBIs.
"Going back consecutive years, it's pretty cool. I think, for me, it's more humbling," said Jones. "It's humbling that we've got four guys going. Last year we had three.
"Baseball is starting to recognize the Orioles as a franchise that's coming back with some very good talent on the field."
The veteran Hardy, a two-time All-Star, won his first career Gold Glove last season, and he's the only shortstop in baseball with at least 20 home runs in each of his past two seasons. Hardy, in fact, leads all shortstops with 52 homers over the 2011 and '12 seasons.
"I'm very appreciative of all the fans in Baltimore and everyone else that voted," said Hardy. "I think with what we did last year, I think really people are starting to notice what we did this year. It's awesome for all the guys on this team. That just shows the fans are showing their support."
Machado, the third overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, is one of the league's top young players. Promoted from Double-A last August, he hit 38 doubles before July 1, the second most in the Majors since 1921. He had a career-high 14-game hitting streak earlier this season and also ranks among the league leaders in hits and batting average.
"I mean it's crazy," said Machado of his initial success. "It's crazy what I've been through my first year in Major League Baseball. Making the playoffs last year, just having two months in the league, and obviously, now, making the All-Star team and having such good success right now."
Jones, Davis and Hardy would have liked to have seen Markakis join them, and Showalter went out of his way to laud his entire team on Saturday.
"If you ask our three or four guys, they'd say it doesn't mean anything to them unless we can be the last team standing," Showalter said. "They wouldn't say that just because it's the right thing to say.
"Our guys really respect each other, and I think their play reflects it. You have a lot of respect for the past. You don't become a prisoner to it, but you think about some of the great players who have played in Baltimore, it gives you an idea of what a nice moment it is for everybody."
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday, July 16. Visit MLB.com for extensive coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.
For more information, visit allstargame.com.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Spencer Fordin contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.