Six Sox named to Guillen's ASG roster
Dye, Thome, Konerko, Contreras, Jenks and Buehrle chosen
CHICAGO -- With six players selected for the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, the White Sox have the greatest representation among any team in the American League and are tied with the Mets for the most in all of baseball.
And the defending World Series champions, with a 53-28 record this season, deserved every bit of their greatest All-Star selection since seven players were chosen in 1960. Yet much of the talk after their 15-11 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Sunday was about the White Sox player who came up a little short for the Midsummer Classic.
Joe Crede did not start against the Cubs, but came off the bench to hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning off reliever Scott Williamson. The third baseman with the Gold Glove-caliber defense now has 16 home runs and 57 RBIs to go with his .303 average.
On July 11, when Jose Contreras, Bobby Jenks, Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Mark Buehrle and Jermaine Dye suit up for the White Sox at PNC Park, Crede will not be part of the festivities. At least, as of Sunday evening, Crede was not an American League All-Star.
According to White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who also is managing the American League team, that slight still could change.
"It will be one week, and if someone gets hurt, I don't care pitcher, catcher, outfielder, Crede is going," said Guillen in direct tones following Sunday's loss. "That's the way it's going to be. If anything happens to those 32 guys on the field where they can't make it, Crede is going, and I don't care who gets mad."
While Guillen would have loved to take deserving players, such as Crede and second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, his hands were somewhat tied by the voting process. Instead of placing too much emphasis on who didn't get in, the White Sox instead celebrated the great stories emanating from the players heading to Pittsburgh.
Contreras, Thome and Dye all were selected by the players, while Buehrle, Konerko and Jenks ended up as three of Guillen's seven managerial selections. Guillen's other four choices were used to fill the sole representative for teams without an All-Star.
Thome (296 votes) had the most support from the players at first base, despite only playing three games at the position all season. Contreras (287 votes) ranked first among players votes for starting pitchers with his 8-0 record and 3.54 ERA.
Reaching the All-Star Game continues a tremendous year of success for the big right-hander from Cuba, who carries a franchise-record 16 consecutive winning decisions into his start against Baltimore on July 4. Guillen plans on only one All-Star inning from Contreras and doesn't figure to start him in Pittsburgh, with Contreras pitching the final game of the second half Sunday against Boston.
"It's not important," said Contreras of starting, through translator and third-base coach Joey Cora. "The most important thing is I get to go to the All-Star Game."
Both Contreras and Jenks have pitched through struggles with other organizations, but Contreras certainly expressed no vindication for proving the Yankees wrong after they traded him to the White Sox for Esteban Loaiza in 2004. As for Jenks, who has converted a Major-League best 25-of-26 save opportunities this season and 16 straight, there's absolutely no reason to revisit his past in the Angels' organization when the present results have been so tremendous.
Guillen told Jenks about the All-Star selection in his office prior to Sunday's game, and Jenks said his reaction was a slightly subdued, "OK. That's it? All right, I'll talk to you later." Jenks has talked to Buehrle about past All-Star experiences and is ready for the media glut that should surpass the World Series.
"He said it can be crazy," Jenks said. "But it's an honor to have that many cameras in your face, because it's something special."
It will be All-Star appearance No. 3 for Konerko, who reached 20 home runs for the seventh season with his blast Saturday. It's also the third trip for Buehrle, with both going last year to Detroit.
Buehrle joked after one of the worst starts of his career that he might get his rotation spot skipped the next time an All-Star selection is possible. In 2002, Buehrle found out about his first All-Star appearance prior to allowing eight runs on nine hits during an 11-6 loss to the Cubs.
"I need to get moved up or moved back a day," said Buehrle with a smile, after allowing 10 earned runs on 13 hits in five innings. "Obviously, it never gets old going there. It's an honor to try and represent our team the best I can -- better than today."
Dye earned the honor for a second time, but his first since 2000, when he was a standout right fielder for the Royals. Thome, who leads the American League with 27 home runs, will be making his fifth All-Star appearance with his third team and first since 2004. The affable left-handed slugger quickly has put last year's injury-plagued season behind him, but his selection with the White Sox means a little more because of the back and right elbow issues from 2005.
"You don't know what's going to happen. Are you going to come back from an injury like that?" said Thome, who also was an All-Star with the Indians and Phillies. "So it does mean a lot, it really does.
"It's always fun, the camaraderie in the clubhouse. For two days you get to be teammates of guys you compete against. I've always enjoyed them and I've always said, whenever you get the opportunity to go to them, you should cherish every moment because you just don't know how many there's going to be."
A chance to add a seventh White Sox player exists through A.J. Pierzynski's appearance on the Monster 2006 All-Star Final Vote AL ballot. As of now, Pierzynski looks like the last South Sider who could earn a trip to Pittsburgh.
Yet, Guillen hasn't given up hope on adding Crede, who fell behind Toronto's Troy Glaus in the players voting and the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez in the fan voting. In fact, Guillen made a pregame offer to arguably the White Sox Most Valuable Player during last year's 12-game postseason.
"I told Joe, 'You can go, and I'll stay,' " Guillen said. "The All-Star Game, I was there a couple of times. When the game starts, it's a great feeling. Before that, it's all about signing autographs and talking to you guys. But I didn't pick those [White Sox] guys who made it. They earned it."
"It would be a great honor to go," Crede added. "But as I've always said, I'd rather win a championship than any personal honor."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.