Rollins, Wagner named to All-Star team
Philly pair added as reserves in place of Izturis and Pedro
PHILADELPHIA -- Shortstop Jimmy Rollins and left-handed closer Billy Wagner have been added to the National League All-Star team. The two will join Bobby Abreu, elected as a starter by the fans, as the Phillies' representatives. For Rollins, it will be his third trip to the Midsummer Classic and for Wagner, his fourth.
Rollins, 26, was added as a replacement for Dodgers shortstop Cesar Izturis, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list earlier this week. Rollins finished second among NL shortstops on the players' ballot.
Rollins was selected as an All-Star reserve player during his rookie season of 2001 and was elected by the fans as the starting shortstop in 2002. He was 2-for-2 with a walk, stolen base and two runs scored in his two All-Star appearances.
"It never gets old," Rollins said. "It's fun to wear some microphones and hang out with the superstars."
Going into play Thursday, Rollins leads all NL shortstops in hits (94), runs (52) and total bases (138). Overall, he is hitting .268 with 13 doubles, five triples, seven home runs, 23 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 82 games.
Rollins was surprised to be headed to Detroit.
"It's more like I got selected my first year," Rollins said. "Bobby Valentine pulled me in immediately and then it was like, 'What the heck am I doing here?' It always feels good to go back, and if I wouldn't have made the team, I was already content with that. It was just looking like I couldn't even crack the top five in the voting -- that's messed up.
"But hey, the coaches and the players had me second on their list. That's really more important, that the people that you play amongst every day recognize that you are a good player and they put you in as one of the top shortstops in the league, and hopefully in MLB, when it's all said and done. But that's years down the road."
Asked what the best part of the All-Star Game is, Rollins offered this assessment.
"The best part of the All-Star Game is batting practice and Home Run Derby, probably. The game itself is baseball, but during batting practice, the guys that you play against, you actually get to hang out with and be a teammate and pull for them. And you get to find out a little bit about their character. You see a guy across the diamond, you might hate him because you really don't know him. Then you get the chance to talk to the guy and find that this guy's actually pretty cool."
Wagner, 33, was added as a replacement for Mets ace Pedro Martinez, who will make his final start of the first half on Sunday. Wagner is 1-1 with 20 saves (in 22 opportunities) and a 2.35 ERA in 37 appearances this season.
In the latest Rolaids Relief Man standings, released Thursday, he ranks third among NL relievers, behind fellow All-Stars Chad Cordero of Washington and Jason Isringhausen of St. Louis. Wagner's 20 saves are tied for fourth in the NL. His previous three All-Star appearances came as a member of the Astros in 1999, 2001 and 2003. He was 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA (one earned run in two innings) in the three games. This will be his fourth All-Star appearance in an American League park.
"It's just an honor to be able to go to Detroit," Wagner said, "and represent the Phillies and this team."
An All-Star appearance is always special.
"You're sitting in a clubhouse full of guys that are the best in the world," Wagner said. "You're sitting there and you're a part of it. It's fun to be associated with that."
It also is important to Wagner's family.
"It's exciting, because I know my oldest son is so into baseball," Wagner said. "I know that he'll be real excited about just being there. I don't even think he cares who's there. Just going to the ballpark is what really lights his candle."
The last time the Phillies had three players at the All-Star Game was 2002, when Rollins, Scott Rolen and Vicente Padilla were members of the NL squad. Wagner is the first Phillies reliever to go since Ricky Bottalico in 1996 and the first lefty reliever since Al Holland in 1984. Rollins is the first Phillies shortstop to go three times since Larry Bowa's five appearances (1974-76, '78-79).
Wagner put it all in perspective.
"I'm honored by it," Wagner said. "That's why I play, to go to the All-Star Games and go to the World Series and the Hall of Fame. I don't play to just play the game."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.