Henderson Alvarez won’t be going back home to Venezuela for the All-Star break after all — and he’s not the least disappointed.
On Saturday morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny selected the 24-year-old Marlins’ right-hander as an injury replacement on the National League All-Star team for the Washington’s Jordan Zimmerman, who left a 6-2 loss to the Phillies on Friday night with a right biceps cramp.
It’s the first time in Alvarez’s big-league career he has earned an All-Star nod and gives the Marlins a pair of representatives in Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic in Minneapolis for the first time since 2010.
“I’m happy, content to earn this honor, to go and play alongside so many superstars,” said Alvarez, who even after giving up a season-high six earned runs in a 7-1 loss to the Mets on Friday still has an All-Star-worthy 6-4 record and 2.63 ERA (sixth-lowest in the NL).
“I had a trip to Miami scheduled [after Saturday’s game] so I could go to Venezuela on Sunday. But they told me [Friday night] not to do it, to wait because something might happen. God only knows why things like this happen. When I was in the minor leagues I went to all the All-Star games, and the only one I was missing was the big leagues. Thankfully, I earned it.”
Alvarez’s teammates were obviously happy for him and quite a few shouted ‘Hendu!’ when manager Mike Redmond made the announcement in the clubhouse before Saturday’s game.
“I know last year everybody talked about Jose [ Fernandez] and rightfully so. He was amazing. But it’s great to see these guys step up and get recognized for their work,” Redmond said. “It’s been fun to watch Henderson go.
“You think back to the no-hitter at the end of the season. I think that’s been a catapult for him and has led to the first half he’s had this year.”
Said third baseman Casey McGehee: “What he’s done the first half, he deserves it.
“I wish he didn’t have to wait until now to find out, but he deserves to be there for sure.”
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said having two All-Star representatives probably isn’t enough for the Marlins, considering the season McGehee has had. But he said it also represents the growth the Marlins have shown since losing 100 games last season. Miami entered Saturday only 5 1/2 games back of the first place Braves and Nationals in the division.
“It means a lot because it represents what this organization is doing and what this team can do,” Saltalamacchia said. “It’s not just Stanton. It’s a lot of guys on this team that are doing really well this year that are helping us be in the position we’re in right now.”
Alvarez said if he doesn’t get to pitch in the game he won’t be heartbroken over it.
“Just making the team is enough for me,” he said. “I’d love to pitch, but to be there next to those superstars you’ve admired from afar is going to make me happy.”
But McGehee said Saturday he’s “not counting on it and not even really hoping for it because you never want to see anybody go down.”
Redmond said it’s likely Nathan Eovaldi will be the first pitcher to go when the team opens the second half with a three-game series against the Giants on Friday at Marlins Park.
COMING UPSunday Brad Hand Jacob deGrom Monday