Three Guardians picked as All-Star reserves, team leads AL with 5 selections for July 16 game

CLEVELAND (AP) — An unexpected season for the Guardians has produced another surprise: the most All-Stars in the American League.

On Sunday, closer Emmanuel Clase, designated hitter David Fry and first baseman Josh Naylor were picked as reserves for the July 16 All-Star Game in Arlington, Texas. They’ll join third baseman José Ramírez and outfielder Steven Kwan, MLB’s leading hitter, who were voted in by fans.

For all their big names with big salaries, the Yankees don’t have five All-Stars. Neither do the AL East-leading Orioles or AL West-leading Mariners.

“It’s awesome,” said Naylor, who was snubbed a year ago. “We get a chance to celebrate each other’s success and be with each other there and just soak in all the opportunities, and all the moments as a group.

“Each of our families will be there, which is great and it’s a cool opportunity.”

It’s also deserving for a team that has been one of baseball’s best stories during the season’s first half.

Playing an aggressive style of ball under first-year manager Stephen Vogt, the Guardians have led the AL Central from the opening week in April.

And they’ve built a comfortable lead despite questions about their starting pitching, which took a major hit when ace Shane Bieber was lost for the season after two starts and had Tommy John surgery.

Cleveland has gotten contributions from up and down its roster. The bullpen, led by Clase, who got his league-leading 27th save on Sunday, has been lights out and every young player the team has brought up has contributed.

Vogt was thrilled the team was rewarded with Cleveland’s most All-Stars since six in 2018.

“It’s so fun for our group to have five people going to represent us and five very, very deserving people as well,” he said following Sunday’s 5-4 win over San Francisco. “I couldn’t be more thrilled for Kwannie, Josh and David — first-time All Stars — and for those three especially, they’ve earned it.

“They’ve had great first halves and they’re having great, phenomenal seasons.”

Perhaps no player symbolizes the Guardians’ grit better than Fry.

Two years ago, he was the player to be named in a trade with Milwaukee for pitcher J.C. Mejia. Now, he’s one of Cleveland’s most indispensable players with his ability to catch, play first or in the outfield.

Fry is batting .305 with eight homers and 33 RBIs in 66 games. Maybe the most telling stat about the well-liked 28-year-old is that the Guardians are 36-15 when he starts.

Vogt may have a soft spot for Fry since he was essentially the same kind of player, one who worked on his craft to earn playing time.

“To see somebody who wasn’t supposed to make it to the big leagues, but earns his way into an everyday role, and then is elected by his peers to go to the All-Star Game, I couldn’t be more proud of David,” Vogt said. “It’s just such a great story.”

Naylor is another.

The free-swinging left-handed hitter, who sustained a season-ending injury playing in the outfield in 2021, has developed into a top power hitter.

Naylor protects Ramírez in the cleanup spot and the 26-year-old has blossomed into a team leader.

“Josh has earned it and more,” Vogt said. “He’s overcome a lot of injuries, overcome a lot of different things throughout his career, so to see him keeping himself healthy, staying on the field, this guy plays through a lot of pain.

“This guy is a tough, tough cookie.”



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