Marcell Ozuna spent the 2015 All-Star break in the doghouse, demoted to the minors when the Marlins determined he wasn’t playing up to his potential.
How times have changed.
Ozuna was chosen to start in the July 11 All-Star Game at Marlins Park, where he’ll be joined on the National League roster by at least one of his Marlins teammates, Giancarlo Stanton.
A third Marlin, first baseman Justin Bour, is among five players vying for one remaining roster spot in the Final Vote, which is determined by fans in online balloting.
“For me, that means a lot,” Ozuna said of being voted in as a starter for the first time. “A lot of people I don’t even know, they voted for me. They appreciated my work and everything I do. Thanks to God first. And thanks to everybody who voted for me.”
While Ozuna started last year’s All-Star Game in San Diego, he did so as an injury replacement.
This time, fans decided Ozuna was the worthy starter based on his all-around achievements this season, one in which he’s hit .316 with 22 home runs and 59 RBI.
“He’s been huge for us all year, consistent, peppering the ball over the place, and he deserves to start for sure,” Stanton said of Ozuna.
Ozuna cracked the starting lineup as the result of ranking in the top three vote-getters among NL outfielders. Washington’s Bryce Harper and Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon were the two others.
Ozuna becomes only the fifth Marlin to be voted in, joining Gary Sheffield, Hanley Ramirez, Dee Gordon and Stanton. Injuries prevented Stanton and Gordon from playing in the 2015 All-Star Game, however.
And Sheffield’s popularity stemmed from his time with the San Diego Padres, who traded him to the Marlins 19 days before the 1993 All-Star Game.
It’s the fourth All-Star selection for Stanton, who is hitting .266 with 21 home runs and 50 RBI. Stanton will also try to defend his title in the Home Run Derby on July 10.
“[I was] looking forward to the Derby,” Stanton said. “This makes it even cooler. To top it off, we’re in Miami, so it’s going to be amazing.”
Ozuna said he intends to dedicate his participation in the All-Star Game to Jose Fernandez, who died in a boat crash last September.
“We’re going to dedicate the [game] for our brother who passed away,” Ozuna said. “And we’re going to play hard for him. Everything we do when we cross the line, we’re going to give it for him.”
THE JUDGE IS COMING
New York Yankees sensation Aaron Judge will head the cast of All-Stars heading to Miami for the July 11 Midsummer Classic.
Judge, who leads the American League in all three Triple Crown categories — batting average, home runs and RBI — was one of five Yankees picked for the AL team. But he was the only Yankee voted onto the team as a starter.
The Washington Nationals and Houston Astros each have three starters.
For the Nationals, Harper, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and second baseman Daniel Murphy led the voting at their respective positions. Two Nationals pitchers, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, also made the NL team.
The Astros’ three starters: second baseman Jose Altuve, shortstop Carlos Correa and outfielder George Springer. Houston will also have two of its pitchers on the AL staff: Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr.
Interestingly, only one member of the defending World Series champion Cubs will be represented: reliever Wade Davis. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is one of five candidates for the Final Vote, however.
MLB 2017 ALL-STAR ROSTER
x-starter; p-player ballot elected; m-choice of MLB
(Years All-Star in parentheses)
Manager - Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs
Coach - Don Mattingly, Miami
p-Wade Davis, Chicago (3)
p-Zack Greinke, Arizona (4)
m-Brad Hand, San Diego (1)
p-Greg Holland, Colorado (3)
p-Kenley Jansen, L.A. Dodgers (2)
p-Clayton Kershaw, L.A. Dodgers (7)
m-Corey Knebel, Milwaukee (1)
p-Carlos Martinez, St. Louis (2)
m-Pat Neshek, Philadelphia (2)
p-Robbie Ray, Arizona (1)
p-Max Scherzer, Washington (5)
m-Stephen Strasburg, Washington (3)
p-Yadier Molina, St. Louis (8)
x-Buster Posey, San Francisco (5)
x-Nolan Arenado, Colorado (3)
x-Zack Cozart, Cincinnati (1)
p-Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona (5)
m-Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh (2)
p-Jake Lamb, Arizona (1)
p-DJ LeMahieu, Colorado (2)
x-Daniel Murphy, Washington (3)
p-Corey Seager, L.A. Dodgers (2)
m-Joey Votto, Cincinnati (5)
x-Ryan Zimmerman, Washington (2)
p-Cody Bellinger, L.A. Dodgers (1)
x-Charlie Blackmon, Colorado (2)
p-Michael Conforto, N.Y. Mets (1)
x-Bryce Harper, Washington (5)
m-Ender Inciarte, Atlanta (1)
x-Marcell Ozuna, Miami (2)
p-Giancarlo Stanton, Miami (4)
FINAL VOTE CANDIDATES
1B Justin Bour, Miami
3B Kris Bryant, Chicago
3B Anthony Rendon, Washington
1B Mark Reynolds, Colorado
3B Justin Turner, L.A. Dodgers
Manager - Terry Francona, Cleveland
Coach - Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay
p-Dellin Betances, N.Y. Yankees (4)
m-Yu Darvish, Texas (4)
m-Michael Fulmer, Detroit (1)
p-Dallas Keuchel, Houston (2)
p-Craig Kimbrel, Boston (6)
m-Corey Kluber, Cleveland (2)
m-Lance McCullers Jr., Houston (1)
p-Andrew Miller, Cleveland (2)
p-Chris Sale, Boston (6)
p-Ervin Santana, Minnesota (2)
p-Luis Severino, N.Y. Yankees (1)
p-Jason Vargas, Kansas City (1)
x-Salvador Perez, Kansas City (5)
p-Gary Sanchez, N.Y. Yankees (1)
p-Yonder Alonso, Oakland (1)
x-Jose Altuve, Houston (5)
p-Starlin Castro, N.Y. Yankees (4)
x-Carlos Correa, Houston (1)
p-Francisco Lindor, Cleveland (2)
x-Jose Ramirez, Cleveland (1)
p-Miguel Sano, Minnesota (1)
m-Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore (1)
x-Justin Smoak, Toronto (1)
p-Mookie Betts, Boston (2)
p-Michael Brantley, Cleveland (2)
p-AvisaiL Garcia, Chicago (1)
x-Aaron Judge, N.Y. Yankees (1)
x-George Springer, Houston (1)
x-Mike Trout, L.A. Angels (6)
p-Nelson Cruz, Seattle (5)
x-Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay (1)
FINAL VOTE CANDIDATES
SS Elvis Andrus, Texas
SS Xander Bogaerts, Boston
SS Didi Gregorius, N.Y. Yankees
1B Logan Morrison, Tampa Bay
3B Mike Moustakas, Kansas City