ST. PETERSBURG — No Rays advanced to the second round of fan voting for starting spots on the American League All-Star team.
Randy Arozarena came closest, getting a Rays-high 569,256 votes but finishing 68,017 (and two slots) behind Toronto’s Randal Grichuk for the ninth spot among outfielders. (Leaders were Mike Trout, Los Angeles, 2,084,542; Aaron Judge, New York, 1,569,640; Byron Buxton, Minnesota, 1,065,227.)
At other positions, the top three advance.
Mike Zunino, who got the next-most votes among Rays at 211,544, finished eighth among catchers, 293,306 behind third-place finisher Yasmani Grandal of Chicago. (Kansas City’s Salvador Perez led at 2,150,968.)
Ji-Man Choi received 178,142 votes, seventh among first baseman, and 263,750 behind No. 3 finisher Jose Abreu of Chicago. (Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero led at 2,704,788.)
After the starters are chosen through another round of fan voting and announced Thursday, there will be other avenues for Rays to be named to the AL team; there has to be at least one.
Pitchers and reserves, chosen by a players vote and then selections by MLB staff, will be announced next Sunday to fill out the 32-man roster. Replacements for injured players will follow.
Rays manager Kevin Cash, who will lead the AL team for the July 13 game in Colorado but has little influence on the roster, said they have a number of worthy candidates, including outfielders Arozarena, Manuel Margot and Austin Meadows; infielder Joey Wendle; Zunino; starting pitchers Rich Hill and now-injured Tyler Glasnow; and relievers Diego Castillo, Pete Fairbanks, Andrew Kittredge and Ryan Thompson.
Odd play of the dayZunino was as surprised as anyone else at Tropicana Field to get a throw from starter Ryan Yarbrough in time to tag out Taylor Ward at the plate in an odd third-inning sequence that resulted in a 4-1-2 double play. “That,” Cash said, “was very strange.”
Ward was at third when David Fletcher popped a ball to shallow right that second baseman Brandon Lowe caught with his back to the plate. As Lowe’s off-target throw sailed nearly halfway up the third base line and out of Zunino’s reach, Ward broke for home.
Zunino was walking slowly back to the plate, mistakenly thinking Ward already had run by him and scored. But Yarbrough (who worked six solid innings) scrambled to back up the play, made a strong throw, and Zunino was able to grab it and tag Ward. “Luckily, I turned my head around before I realized Yarbs was throwing at me and we had a chance for the double play,” Zunino said. “Crazy what goes into the plays.”
Miscellany• Lowe’s fifth-inning homer off Patrick Sandoval was just his ninth hit in 86 at-bats against lefties (.105 average), though his fourth homer. Lowe has 10 homers against lefties since the start of 2020. The only lefty swingers with more are Texas’ Joey Gallo (13) and Oakland’s Matt Olson (12).
• Rookie Wander Franco’s soft single (exit velocity 81.1 mph) in the sixth was his first hit since his Tuesday debut, snapping an 0-for-18 stretch. He finished Sunday 1-for-3 with a walk and hitting .136.
• Young Rays minor-leaguers based in Port Charlotte start playing a 60-game schedule Monday in the Florida Complex League (similar to the former Gulf Coast League). The team is home Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week, with noon starts and free admission to Charlotte Sports Park. Saturday games are at 10 a.m. See @RaysPlayerDev on Twitter for schedule updates.
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