After comically feigning astonishment when approached by reporters about his selection to this year's All-Star Game, Cardinals veteran Lance Berkman declined an opening to correct or chide the doubters who weren't so playful about his chances entering the season.
He didn't have to. His manager did.
"I think Lance, with what he had to prove wherever he played, has sent one hell of a message about what he's got left," manager Tony La Russa said after the Cardinals' 8-3 loss Sunday to Tampa Bay. "Which is a lot of the greatness he's had his whole career. That he did it for us has been fun to watch, and important."
Berkman and teammates Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina were announced as the Cardinals' representatives at the All-Star Game on July 12 in Phoenix. Berkman finished second in the fan vote among National League outfielders and is to join Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and Los Angeles' Matt Kemp in the starting lineup.
Holliday and Molina were selected by the player vote, a first for Molina — who has been the starter at catcher in the previous two All-Star Games. It is Holliday's fifth selection and second consecutive as a Cardinal. For Berkman, it's his sixth selection, but only his second as a starter.
"I'm thrilled with the way that I've hit in the first half," said Berkman, who hit his 22nd homer of the season Sunday, a half season after hitting 14 total with a career-low .248 batting average. "To come back from last year, it's satisfying. But there are other things out there to accomplish."
Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was not selected as a starter or reserve for the first time since 2002 and only the second time in his 11-year career. In the weekly returns released by Major League Baseball, Pujols led the fan vote at first base up until the final public count, and he was the leading vote-getter in the NL early on. Milwaukee's Prince Fielder received a late online surge of votes and surpassed Pujols' 4.2 million votes with 4.9 million. Cincinnati's Joey Votto finished with 4.3 million, leaving Pujols in third place.
Fielder and Votto also finished ahead of Pujols in the player vote. Florida's Gaby Sanchez was selected for the team by manager Bruce Bochy, leaving Pujols and Ryan Howard off the roster.
Molina said he was surprised not to have Pujols coming along.
The three-time MVP had a sluggish start to the season and though he received more fan votes than any player not on the All-Star rosters, his current stay on the disabled list because of a fractured wrist might have worked against him. La Russa said he did not hear from Bochy about Pujols.
"I think that when they were making their decisions, first base is a very strong position here and they were thinking about four to six weeks'' without Pujols being healthy, La Russa said. "They didn't hear at the last minute, hey, he's getting better."
Berkman, Holliday, Molina make NL All-Star team
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Jul 4