Upton chosen as an NL All-Star reserve

Upton chosen as an NL All-Star reserve

OAKLAND -- The mood in the Arizona Diamondbacks clubhouse Sunday morning was one of happiness for outfielder Justin Upton being selected to the National League All-Star team, but there was widespread disappointment that right-hander Ian Kennedy was left off.

Kennedy still has a chance to make the team as one of five Final Vote candidates.

The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be played on July 12 at Chase Field. It will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. MST. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

"We'd prefer to have more than one guy, but we respect that it's the manager's decision to pick who he wants to pick," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said, referring to Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who is leading the NL team. "J-Up is a good representative for us, he's been there before and he's played well for us. He's matured a lot this year, been pretty consistent, been hot the last month and he'll represent us well. Certainly he's a guy you'd want to have on your team if you're trying to win a game."


This is the second time Upton has been selected to appear in the All-Star Game.

The 23-year-old's first selection came in 2009, when he was selected as a reserve for the game, which was played in St. Louis.

Upton entered that game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning and grounded out against the Mariners' Felix Hernandez. He remained in the game in left field, a position he had never played before in the big leagues. In his second at-bat later in the contest, he grounded out against the Yankees' Mariano Rivera.

The experience should prove helpful to Upton this time around.

"With it being in Phoenix, I'll have a little extra stuff to do," Upton said of various hosting duties, including being Major League Baseball's official spokesperson for the 2011 MLB All-Star FanFest. "I don't know if I'm quite prepared for that, but knowing everything that's going to be going on, I'll be able to get my mind into it a little better. It's awesome, just having the chance to play in an All-Star Game in your home stadium, it's going to be a great opportunity. I'm excited about it and definitely looking forward to it."

The question now becomes will Upton also be looking forward to the showcase event leading up to the game itself.

Under the new format for the State Farm Home Run Derby, captains were appointed for both the AL and NL squads. The captains get to choose their respective teammates for the Derby. Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder was recently named captain of the NL team, and Upton is awaiting word on whom the slugger will choose to join him.

"I'd definitely do the Derby in front of the home fans," Upton said. "But I'm sure he's got some big boppers in mind that he's going to be picking, but we'll see."

As for how Upton made it back to the All-Star Game, the turning point in the outfielder's 2011 season appears to be a day off he was given on May 28 while the team was in Houston. To that point, Upton had played in all 51 of the team's games, and his average had dipped to .241.

Since that day, though, Upton has been on fire. Over the last 32 affairs he has hit .388 with an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 1.071.

"Up to that point, he was just taking each at-bat and each event way too far, way too seriously, just his reaction to every failure, it was more than it needed to be," Gibson said. "We talked about that and took our advice. He came out and got some hits, and it's just kind of developed into what it is now. Just like anybody else, he just tries to do too much at times and it just gets to the point where it works against you. He's done a good job of controlling that since then."

Upton received his first-ever NL Player of the Week Award for June 13-19, when he hit .552 with four doubles, a homer and seven RBIs.

"Just relaxing and seeing the ball," Upton said at the time. "That's it. It's a lot easier said than done. It seems to be working, so I just want to stay with it."

Upton's teammates would have preferred to see Kennedy selected, as well, and were puzzled by his exclusion.

"I think it stinks," second baseman Kelly Johnson said. "I'm not going to lie. He's been a huge part of our success to be where we're at. It's just sad. I think it's unfortunate, and I know everyone else on the team feels it's unfortunate."

Kennedy is 8-2 with a 3.01 ERA and among NL starters he ranks fourth with 116 2/3 innings pitched, is tied for ninth with eight wins, and is 10th with a .198 average vs. righties. He is also tied for 11th with a .227 batting average against.

The feeling was that Bochy picked his pitcher Ryan Vogelsong over Kennedy.

"I mean Vogelsong is having a decent year, but Kennedy deserves it more just because of what he's done start to finish, going deep in all his ballgames," Daniel Hudson said. "Bochy has been on the opposite side of him dominating their team twice, you'd think maybe that would help, but that's just the way it goes sometimes. Hopefully the fans vote him in."

The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.

Fans, having already decided the starters, this week will have the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 7. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Msg&Data Rates May Apply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. Std rates may apply.

On July 12, fans once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.