Felipe Vazquez lone Pirates representative in All-Star Game
When Pirates relief pitcher Felipe Vazquez got word about earning the first All-Star Game berth of his career, one of his first thoughts was of his teammates.
“Being there by myself, it’s going to be a little bit tough,” he said.
For the second year in a row, the Pirates will send only one representative to the All-Star Game. The game will be played July 17 in Nationals Park in Washington D.C. Second baseman Josh Harrison went last year.
Vazquez said he wasn’t expecting to get the nod this year, but his recent efforts were hard to ignore.
In his past 10 games (10 2⁄3 innings), he has collected six saves, including Sunday when he struck out the side in the ninth inning of a 4-1 victory against the Philadelphia Phillies. He’s allowed only five hits and two walks while striking out 21 in that time.
For the season, he’s 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA and 18 saves and 51 strikeouts in 37 1⁄3 innings.
He’s come a long way after a blowing four saves in the first two months of the season.
“You struggle for a little bit like we all did and you just have to keep your head up,” he said. “Probably forget about everything. Going back to basics.”
Vazquez said he thought more about earning the berth last year, his first full season as the Pirates’ closer when he collected 21 saves by the end of the season.
“This year I was kind of over it,” he said. “I think my sister (Prescilla, his agent) is going to be more happy. She was excited. ‘I want to go. I want to go.’ Now, I’m actually going, she’s probably buying some stuff so she can go.”
Vazquez mentioned Pirates left fielder Corey Dickerson, who’s hitting .308, and catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has nine home runs and 36 RBIs, also are having deserving years.
Cervelli took his second All-Star disappointment in stride. He also thought he had a chance in 2015 when he ended up hitting .295.
“No comment,” he said before commenting. “This is the second time it happened so it doesn’t matter anymore.
“I’m going to vacation with my family. I don’t know the other people’s numbers, but I know mine were good. That’s all that matters. Probably the other guys deserve it more. Maybe one day before I retire.”
Meanwhile, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle broke MLB’s embargo on the All-Star news by mentioning Vazquez’s selection in his postgame news conference. MLB wanted to keep it secret until ESPN’s unveiling on its 7 p.m. show.
“I shouldn’t have said that,” he said. He joined Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, a former teammate with the New York Mets, in breaking the embargo.
When a reporter joked he might face a fine, Hurdle said, “$1,500 is biggest one I ever got. That’s my vomit zone. If it’s over that, I’ll have some explaining to do when I get home.”