Sox All-Star trio motors to Detroit
Buehrle, Garland and Konerko selected to represent AL
CHICAGO -- To reach the level of excellence attained by the White Sox through 80 games in 2005, winning 54 of those contests and holding an 8 1/2-game lead in the American League Central over the Twins, individual concerns have to be pushed aside for the good of the team.And even on Sunday, when starting pitchers Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland and first baseman Paul Konerko were selected as American League All-Stars, they chose to focus on the bigger picture instead of reveling in personal glory. Credit was given to the team's success for producing individual recognition, and just as much focus was given to their deserving teammates who didn't make the final cut. "It would have been nice to get at least one of our relievers on there because [the relievers] and our starting rotation are the reason we are where we are at," Konerko said. "So, it would have been nice to have that representation." The All-Star Game, to be held at Detroit's Comerica Park on Tuesday, July 12 at 7 p.m. cT, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet. Manager Ozzie Guillen mentioned second baseman Tadahito Iguchi and starting pitcher Freddy Garcia as a pair of his overlooked All-Star candidates. Left fielder Scott Podsednik, with 40 stolen bases, was selected as one of the five American League finalists for the Ameriquest All-Star Final Vote, which gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. But relievers Dustin Hermanson and Cliff Politte were the two most notable omissions. Hermanson, who has been a late-inning savior for the White Sox with Shingo Takatsu's early struggles, has 19 saves in 20 opportunities and a 1.44 ERA. Politte features a 5-0 record and 1.10 ERA, but fell victim to a lack of middle relievers being recognized. They both were passed over for other teams' single selections, such as Cleveland's Bob Wickman, Tampa Bay's Danys Baez and Oakland's Justin Duchscherer. "Politte has had a good year. Hermanson has had a good year," Guillen said. "It's so tough for baseball to choose the best team because of the roster size. I feel proud and happy to have Konerko on the team also because everyone was talking about Garland and Buehrle. When people are only talking about two players from our team, that surprised me." "Garcia could go. Politte could go. Hermanson could go," Buehrle added. "Those are all guys that deserve to go, but they can only let so many people on the team." Buehrle and Garland became the first pair of White Sox pitchers to make the All-Star team in the same season since Jason Bere and Wilson Alvarez were selected with Frank Thomas in 1994. Garland earned his first appearance, while Buehrle and Konerko suit up for the second time at the Midsummer Classic, both having been chosen for the 2002 contest in Milwaukee. Konerko, 29, had better numbers at last year's All-Star break but benefited this season from Texas' Mark Teixeira winning the fan voting at first base over the Yankees' Tino Martinez and a slightly lower level of productivity among AL first basemen. Konerko's 19 home runs and 53 RBIs clearly were the second most impressive set of numbers at his position, especially considering his contributions to the White Sox's lofty status. "Obviously the guy that got voted is the one who far and away deserves to be there," said Konerko, who had two doubles and two RBIs during his previous All-Star appearance. "I'm going to assume that it probably came down between me and a couple of guys and I believe one of the tiebreakers is the team. I believe that's probably the reason I'm going. "So, I look at it as my team got me on, not me," Konerko added. Other players around the league also had a hand in Konerko's selection, with his 182 peer votes falling second to Teixeira. Buehrle narrowly finished second behind Toronto's Roy Halladay among players' voting for starting pitchers (289 to 286), while Garland ranked a close third (278). Garland, 25, is tied with Florida's Dontrelle Willis for the Major League lead in victories at 13. That total serves as a single-season high for the right-hander in just 16 starts, and he became the first White Sox pitcher to hit this particular win total before the All-Star break since Jack McDowell was 13-6 in the first half of 1993. Buehrle watched his nine-game winning streak and 13-game unbeaten run end Sunday, as his career record fell to 2-7 against Oakland. But he still has 10 wins, a 2.58 ERA and has proven to be one of the more consistent pitchers in all of baseball. Questions regarding possible selection for the 2005 All-Star Game began for Buehrle and Garland as early as mid-May. To the credit of this duo, they consistently deflected individual glory for the success of baseball's best team-right up through this past week, when their amazing numbers all but guaranteed a trip to Detroit. "I felt like I had a good chance," Buehrle said. "But with what happened last year, there are always guys who get screwed out of going. I wasn't going to take it for granted." "To tell you the truth, I really didn't think about it," Garland added. "I've just wanted to go out and compete and do good for my team. My guys came out and played good baseball for me, and it just so happens that this happened. Now, I'm on my way." Both Garland and Buehrle should be in serious consideration to start for the American League, although Halladay might have the inside track for that reward (12-4, 2.33 ERA, five complete games). Then again, simply being selected stands as a further celebration of the White Sox's spectacular first half as a team, an improbable success story that makes starting in the All-Star Game for either hurler almost pale in comparison. "It really doesn't matter, it's just an honor to go," Buehrle said. "I think Halladay has the best shot and if not him, then Garland. Right now, I think I'm probably third on the list. If I go out there and have to throw two innings, I'll throw two innings. Start it, close it, I'll do whatever I have to do."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.