NL All-Star roster
Esteban Loaiza and Carl Everett, two players who weren't on a lot of baseball radar screens during the winter, found out Sunday they would be "hosting" one of the biggest events of the baseball season.
Right-hander Loaiza, who rose from rotation hopeful to ace of the staff with a superb first half, and Carl Everett, another player whose career has been rejuvenated this season, will represent the host Chicago White Sox at the 74th All-Star Game to be played July 15 at U.S. Cellular Field.
"I'm really thrilled, I really just don't know what to say," Loaiza said Sunday. "It means a lot for me, it means a lot for this organization, and it means a lot for a lot of my family. ... I'm still in shock because I'm going to the All-Star Game. Even during the game I was telling some of the guys, ‘I don't believe it’, and I don't believe it. Dreams can come true."
Loaiza is 11-4 with a league-leading 2.24 ERA. He was 9-10 with a 5.71 ERA for Toronto last season before signing a one-year $500,000 free agent contract with the White Sox. American League Manager Mike Scioscia hasn't announced who will start yet, but Loaiza has to be considered a leading candidate for the honor.
"If I get a chance to start, it will be a lot more exciting for me and a lot more exciting for the fans in Chicago, and also for this team and for my family and everybody else that knows me," Loaiza said.
Loaiza will be making his first appearance on an All-Star team.
"It's an awesome story for him. He's a guy that's been kind of a journeyman, so to speak, but has shown flashes of potential," Chicago manager Jerry Manuel said. "This year, he's really blossomed into a quality starter."
Everett, hitting .270 with 18 homers and 51 RBIs, was acquired from Texas earlier this week. He began the season not knowing what his role would be after coming off an injury-shortened year and with a new manager in Texas in Buck Showalter. Like Loaiza, Everett has been paying huge dividends for the team that showed faith in him.
"It's nice to pick up a guy that's an All-Star, there's no doubt about that," Manuel said. "That's great. I'm happy for him. He put a lot of things behind him to be an All-Star. That's quite a testimony."
Everett said his selection caught him unaware.
"I'm kind of surprised, just simply because of the June that I had," Everett said. "My wife was actually planning a trip to the Bahamas for a couple of days. ... Now I'll get a free vacation."
There is a chance another White Sox player could join Loaiza and Everett on the All-Star team. Designated hitter Frank Thomas is one of five players on the ballot for the AL's 32nd man. Five players not elected to the All-Star Game were nominated by 2003 All-Star Game managers Dusty Baker and Mike Scioscia in conjunction with Major League Baseball. Fans now have three days to select the final player on each leagues rosters.
"I would encourage Frank to keep pushing and keep swinging the bat well," Manuel said. "I told him if this club can get on a streak of about seven or eight games, however many we have left, and find our way to the top at the break and he's a big reason for it, it would be difficult, very difficult, to deny him a chance to play in his home park. I hope that he doesn't give up hope."
Thomas is hitting .287 with 20 homers and 47 RBIs.
"It's disappointing (not making the team so far), but that's OK, I'm used to it," Thomas said. "It happened four times to me already, so it's nothing new. ... I wanted to be there because it's in Chicago this year, that's all, I'm not that upset because the numbers are not huge. I'm not saying I'm not deserving, it's just one of things that just didn't work out.
"There's always going to be snubs every year. I've seen it work so many different ways. You've just got to accept it and deal with it. I'm just tired of not making the All-Star team, and I've been so close to winning so many MVPs. It's like, what the heck do you have to do to be on the All-Star team? I just don't understand it."
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.