Crede, Quentin get first All-Star nods
Pair will represent first-place White Sox at Yankee Stadium
CHICAGO -- That loud ruckus coming from the small town of Westphalia, Mo., some time Sunday afternoon was not really anything to worry about for the local residents.
It simply was the friends and family of Joe Crede celebrating his first career All-Star selection. Crede will be joined by left fielder Carlos Quentin, another first-timer, as the White Sox representatives at Yankee Stadium on July 14 and 15.
Both Crede and Quentin were voted in by the American League players, with Crede finishing second behind Alex Rodriguez at third base and Quentin checking in at fifth behind Josh Hamilton, Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew and Grady Sizemore.
"I appreciate it," said Quentin of the support from his peers. "It's something that's special because you appreciate that other players respect how you play and feel you've accomplished something to make it to that point. That's special."
"To be voted in by your peers is one of the greatest feelings you can have," Crede added. "It's other players who play the game and understand the game and understand what you go through on a day-to-day basis."
Neither of these White Sox players would have been strong All-Star candidates if a survey was taken at the start of Spring Training. Quentin was trying to rebound from offseason surgery to repair a torn left labrum and rotator cuff, and truth be told, looked like a long shot to even make the Opening Day roster in mid March.
Crede, meanwhile, wasn't a certainty to even be part of the White Sox organization when the team broke camp from Tucson, Ariz. Playing in his last year prior to free agency, coupled with the strong showing from Josh Fields in place of Crede during most of the 2007 season, made Crede a prime trade candidate.
Now, 88 games into the 2008 regular season, Crede stands as one of the first-place White Sox true first-half most valuable player candidates. That effort becomes more remarkable when considering Crede underwent season-ending back surgery on June 12, 2007.
"Going back to that first part of June, when I was coming out of surgery, being in all the pain I was in and not even thinking I would be able to walk again, well, this really means a lot," said Crede, clearly moved by this honor. "This is just icing on the cake."
The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
Participating in the final All-Star Game to be played at legendary Yankee Stadium is a bonus for both of the first-time White Sox honorees, with Crede invoking the names of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Joe DiMaggio when talking about his opportunity. Being part of this game is a further testament to what a change of scenery and a chance to play regularly has done for Quentin since he was acquired from Arizona.
The intense 25-year-old, who didn't crack too many smiles during his joint postgame press conference with Crede, has emerged as one of the true surprises of the current campaign. Since the start of the regular season, Quentin arguably has been the team's most valuable player with the bat.
Quentin has a .273 average with 19 home runs and 61 RBIs, not to mention a .513 slugging percentage and .378 on-base percentage. When asked to put such recognition of his strong play into words, Quentin was at a loss in his response.
"Maybe I'll get some time to reflect later," Quentin said. "I mean, I'm honored. I never really expected something like this coming into this year. My first priority was always to get on the field and play. I thank those who voted for me. I'm really at a loss for words.
"I'm definitely excited," he added.
Nineteen home runs for Quentin and 15 for Crede place them as AL candidates for the State Farm Home Run Derby. Crede wholeheartedly supported a chance to be part of the competition, while Quentin took a wait-and-see approach.
While Crede's selection might have been a bit of a surprise, as he's mired in a 7-for-50 slump and his 17 errors lead all AL third basemen, he certainly was deserving of the nod. Truth be told, Crede should have gone in 2006, when he carried a .294 average into the break with 16 home runs and 57 RBIs. Then AL manager and White Sox leader Ozzie Guillen even offered to stay home and let Crede take his place.
Westphalia's celebration simply was postponed a couple of years. It started Sunday afternoon and figured to continue upon Crede's return Sunday night, right after Crede changed his family's All-Star break flight plans from Missouri to New York.
"It's a very emotional time for my family and friends," said Crede, who is hitting .261 with 47 RBIs and remains one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball. "I don't know who is happier -- me, or my family and all my friends texting me and congratulating me."
"Hopefully they have the best time of their life and are strong enough to help us after the break," Guillen added.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.