DETROIT - Perhaps it was Felix Hernandez who best summed up teammate Ichiro Suzuki's 10th straight selection to the American League All-Star team.
“Ahh, Ichi’s always going to make it,” Hernandez said with a smile.
It does seem that way. On Sunday, Ichiro was named as a starting outfielder for the American Leauge All-Stars, having been voted in by the fans.
“It never gets old,” Ichiro said through translator Antony Suzuki. “Of course, not at least at this moment.”
Meanwhile, Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee, who picked up his eighth win of the season on Sunday, found out he was also voted onto the team by a different set of voters – his peers – shortly before game time.
“Any time you’re even mentioned as potentially making an All-Star team it’s an honor. But to make it, especially voted in by the players, it’s an honor,” Lee said. “When fellow teammates and opposition vote you in, it’s a good feeling. It’s something I will cherish the rest of my life.”
The two Mariners players will travel to Anaheim, Calif., for the 81st All-Star Game on July 13 at Angels Stadium.
While both Ichiro and Lee seemed like automatic selections, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu had hoped Hernandez would be selected for his second consecutive All-Star Game.
“Again, I know how good he is, and what he did last year, but I also know how good he’s pitched lately,” Wakamatsu said. “He’s been overshadowed by Cliff a little bit. You ask his peers, and he’s awfully tough to hit against.
“There’s a lot of respect in the game for him. As a manager, you’d really like to see him make it.”
Hernandez didn’t seem too upset or too surprised he didn’t make it.
“It’s not my decision,” he said. “I did not have a lot of wins.”
Indeed, Hernandez’s record is 6-5 for the season, with a 3.03 ERA, but he easily could have had three more wins with a little help from the Mariners’ anemic offense.
“If we’d given him a little better run support it might have been a different story,” Wakamatsu said. “I know there are lots of deserving players, but I had hoped he would make it with Cliff and Ichi.”
This will be the ninth time in 10 appearances Ichiro has been voted in as a starter. The only time he wasn’t a starter was in 2005
“It’s a credit to how hard he works,” Wakamatsu said of the 10 consecutive selections. “The thing that doesn’t get mentioned a lot is he wants to play every single day, no matter what. He never complains, but he knows his body as good as anyone I’ve ever been around. He’s so dedicated to his craft. He’s an amazing player.
“He’s a complete player. The run he’s had so far is phenomenal.”
In his nine All-Star games, Ichiro hit .333 (8-for-24) with a double, a home run, three runs scored and four RBI.
Ichiro was named MVP of the 2007 All-Star Game in San Francisco, when he went 3-for-3 with the only inside-the-park home run in All-Star Game history.
The starting lineups, as voted by fans, for the July 13 All-Star Game:
Yadier Molina, CardinalsCJoe Mauer, Twins
Albert Pujols, Cardinals1BJustin Morneau, Twins
Chase Utley, Phillies-x2BRobinson Cano, Yankees
David Wright, Mets3BEvan Longoria, Rays
Hanley Ramirez, MarlinsSSDerek Jeter, Yankees
Ryan Braun, BrewersOFIchiro Suzuki, Mariners
Jason Heyward, BravesOFJosh Hamilton, Rangers
Andre Ethier, DodgersOFCarl Crawford, Rays
TBDDHVladimir Guerrero, Rangers
x-injured, will not play
Pitchers Jon Lester of the Red Sox (Bellarmine Prep) and Tim Lincecum of the Giants (Liberty High, University of Washington) were named to the American and National League All-Star teams, respectively.