CLEVELAND — Minnesota Twins pitcher Jose Berrios hadn’t made any plans for his All-Star break, keeping the week clear for when and if he was invited. When the nod he was waiting for didn’t come when rosters were initially revealed, he joked to brother-in-law Javy Baez that he might just show up anyway.
A few days later, Berrios was named an injury replacement for teammate Jake Odorizzi. Baez, meanwhile, will start Tuesday's game at shortstop and bat second for the National League, so for the second straight year, the All-Star Game will have a family feel for the pair.
“It means a lot,” Berrios said. “We spent last night like six hours together in the family room. We spent a lot of time talking and watched our kids running around. We’ve enjoyed it so far.”
The two would like to face each other, as they did in last year’s game, although there is no guarantee. It’s possible that Berrios gets in the game after Baez has left. It’s also possible Berrios doesn’t enter the game at all, though he hopes that isn’t the case.
Last year, Berrios got Baez to fly out to right in the fifth inning.
“I was excited. I was just smiling and I didn’t know how to react,” Baez said. “We had fun and at least he didn’t strike me out. That was what I wanted.”
Whether they wind up facing each other or not, they’re enjoying their time together. And if their careers continue on the paths they’re going, it likely won’t be the last July reunion.
“It’s one family together. Everybody is here. My whole family is here,” Baez said. “My wife’s family is here, which is his wife’s family, too. I’m excited to have them here too and try to enjoy them.”
The Twins may be on pace to shatter Major League Baseball’s home run record, but the Home Run Derby went on at Progressive Field Monday, July 8, without any members of the Twins’ “Bomba Squad.”
Nelson Cruz or Miguel Sano would have been Odorizzi’s picks, although Cruz, at 39, values rest and has nursed a sore wrist throughout the year. Cruz finished as the runner up to Prince Fielder at Busch Stadium in 2009, while Sano put on a show in Miami in 2017, also finishing as the runner up.
Berrios said he was “a little disappointed” none of his teammates were participating.
“It’s almost like we were too well-rounded … offensively that some guys like (Eddie Rosario) and (Max Kepler), even (Byron Buxton) missed out on an opportunity like this even though they stack up the same if not better,” Odorizzi said.
“That’s a backhanded compliment, I guess you would say. The team top to bottom is too consistent.”
Polanco batting 9th
American League manager Alex Cora has slotted Jorge Polanco, who will start the game as a result of winning the fan vote at shortstop, ninth in the lineup.
Cora tabbed Astros starter Justin Verlander, who entered the day with a 2.98 earned-run average and 153 strikeouts in 126⅔ innings as the AL’s starting pitcher. It is the second time Verlander has started the game.
The Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who leads all starters with a 1.73 ERA, will get the ball for the National League to start the game.