Holliday, Fuentes named to All-Star team
Rockies pair to make repeat appearance at Midsummer Classic
HOUSTON -- Left fielder Matt Holliday has been hot all season. Closer Brian Fuentes was hot until recently.
In both cases, the performances were good enough to earn them enough votes from fellow players and league coaches and managers to be chosen to appear as reserves for the National League team in the 78th All-Star Game at AT&T Park in San Francisco on July 10.
Holliday received 725 votes from his peers, the most of any player.
"Matt's had a great first half -- we're very proud of him, very happy for him," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "And we're just as proud of Brian and happy for him.
"These spots weren't handed out. They earned them and we wish them well as they go on and play and represent our organization."
The 2003 season marked the introduction of the Player Ballot to the All-Star selection process. Each league's players, managers and coaches elect eight position players and eight pitchers from their league. Catchers and infielders who finish in the top two at their position on the Player Ballot, and outfielders among the top six, are assured of making the All-Star Team. In instances where the winners of the Player Ballot are also fan-elected starters, the player with the next highest amount of votes on the Player Ballot makes the All-Star Team. Eight pitchers - five starters and three relievers - become All-Stars through the Player Ballot. The manager of each World Series team from the prior season - in this year's case, Detroit's Jim Leyland and St. Louis' Tony La Russa - then fills the remaining slots on their respective teams, ensuring that one player from all 30 clubs is named to the All-Star Game.
The 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 6 p.m. MT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
It's the second straight appearance for Holliday. Fuentes becomes the fifth player in Rockies history to appear in as many as three Midsummer Classics.
Holliday entered Sunday afternoon's game against the Astros leading the NL in batting and improved his average one point to .349 with a 1-for-2 performance. He also has 115 hits, 116 total bases and 34 multi-hit games -- he led the league in all three categories going into Sunday.
"I think it's slightly different in that you know how the weekend is going to go or the week is going to go, but the same sense of excitement," Holliday said. "But I'm thrilled to be a part of it. To have players recognize you is a very humbling, very appreciative feeling."
Holliday is emerging because he is becoming a complete player. He has had a solid season defensively, and established himself in the No. 3 spot in the Rockies lineup.
"I feel like I've played well the first half on defense, gotten better on defense," he said. "I work at it. That's the goal and the reason I come to the park every day, to try to get better. I don't sit down and try to analyze myself too much because I'm constantly trying to look forward to the next day."
Fuentes will not be the Rockies closer for the next few days after having blown four straight saves, but he has succeeded on 20 of 26 opportunities. Colorado hopes he will regain his form and return to the closer role, which he has held since May 2005.
Fuentes struggled again in Sunday's 12-0 loss to the Astros, giving up two runs in the eighth inning. But he set the disappointment aside to express appreciation for the All-Star honor.
"To hear it's coming from my peers makes it that much more special, to know that I'm respected in that way," Fuentes said.
Elements of Fuentes' slump are similar to last season. Fuentes gave up six runs in his final appearance before the All-Star break, blew his first save chance afterward and gave up a run his following game before finishing strong.
"I never lose confidence," he said. "At times, I'm disappointed in myself for my performance when my end result wasn't very good. But as a competitor and as a closer, you have to put all that stuff behind you every time you show up to the field. I do that every day.
"I want to get right, whatever is best for the team. If they feel getting me out of that closing role is best for the team, then I'm all for it. If I had stayed in the role, I believe I'd still get the job done. But talking to Clint, it's not a permanent thing. When I get right, I'll go back into that role."
The only other players to represent the Rockies in more All-Star Games are Todd Helton (five), Larry Walker (four), Andres Galarraga and Dante Bichette. Walker, Bichette, Helton and now Fuentes have made three straight appearances.
Holliday and Fuentes each represented the Rockies last year at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Holliday played seven innings and played in right field, something he had never done in a regular-season game. He went 0-for-3.
Fuentes was on the NL roster for the 2005 All-Star Game at Detroit's Comerica Park and warmed up, but did not participate. Last year, however, he entered in the sixth inning with a lead and pitched a scoreless inning.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.