The Blue Jays know they will see manager John Gibbons at the major league All-Star Game next month at New York’s Citi Field.
But which Toronto player, or players, will join the skipper at the annual Midsummer Classic remains a question.
With the game a month away, the Jays were in Texas on Thursday night, and put together a textbook two-run eighth inning to earn a 3-1 win over the Rangers before 32,013 at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Any all-star talk with the Jays like begins and ends with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, and the two went walk and two-run double, respectively, to break a 1-1 tie that came courtesy of a pitching duel between Yu Darvish and Toronto’s Jays’ Esmil Rogers.
The Jays’ stars were doing what they are supposed to do, but a sacrifice bunt from Munenori Kawasaki and a groundout to the right side of the infield by Melky Cabrera set the stage for the big boppers to do their thing.
At the moment, the thinking around the team is that Jose Bautista, the face of the franchise, will be voted in via fan balloting, the players’ vote, or — if it comes to it — the the manager’s selections that fill out the respective rosters.
Beyond Bautista, the argument for Jays players grows thin: Encarnacion remains the popular favourite to earn a spot via the players’ vote or manager’s selections.
Brett Cecil’s case is strong. He’s quietly led the Jays’ bullpen and has been all-star calibre all season long, but his chances are slim. Arguments can also be made for closer Casey Janssen and DH/first baseman Adam Lind, though Janssen saves totals and Lind’s at-bats fall short of all-star thresholds.
Inside the Jays dressing room Thursday, the players were unanimous in naming Encarnacion as the Jay most worthy of all-star selection. The soft-spoken first baseman, who is leading the team for a second straight season in homers and RBIs, was snubbed last year, and in the minds of his peers should not be overlooked twice.
But being overlooked is a fact of life for a host of major leaguers in every city.
“We’ve got a team with a lot of players who deserve mention, but it’s a fan vote and a manager’s selection, so snubs will happen,” Jays reliever Steve Delabar said.