PHOENIX, Arizona (Reuters) - Toronto slugger Jose Bautista drew a record 7.45 million votes to lead the list of Major League Baseball All Stars announced on Sunday and will help usher in a new era of elite players at the ‘Summer Classic’.
Bautista, a reserve last year, is one of seven new starters for the July 12 game at Chase Field that will give home-field advantage for the World Series to the winning league.
Among those missing from the start lists are last year’s top AL vote-getter Joe Mauer, who has missed most of the season with injury. Nine-times National League All Star Albert Pujols also misses out with injury, while Ichiro Suzuki, Vladimir Guerrero and Ryan Howard also made way for new faces.
“I can’t even describe how good that feels (to be the leading vote-getter),” Bautista, who burst on the scene last season with 54 home runs told reporters.
“It has been a fun year so far, and it’s going to be another honor to represent the team.”
Bautista will join American League starters Alex Avila (Detroit), Adrian Gonzalez (Boston), Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson (all NY Yankees) and Josh Hamilton (Texas). Boston’s David Ortiz is the designated-hitter.
Brian McCann (Atlanta), Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun (all Milwaukee), Jose Reyes (NY Mets), Placido Polanco (Philadelphia), Lance Berkman (St. Louis) and Matt Kemp (LA Dodgers) will start for the National League.
AL manager Ron Washington and NL manager Bruce Bochy must each name a starting pitcher, with Washington choosing from a group that includes Josh Beckett (Boston), Felix Hernandez (Seattle), David Price (Tampa Bay), Justin Verlander (Detroit) and Jered Weaver (LA Angels).
In the NL, Bochy will have Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee (all Philadelphia), Clayton Kershaw (LA Dodgers) and Tim Lincecum (San Francisco) to choose from.
One final player will be named to each team through a fan vote, with the winners to be announced on Thursday.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford