Goldschmidt, Montero proud to represent D-backs
Sluggers bring power, All-Star experience to National League squad's roster
MINNEAPOLIS -- It has been a disappointing season so far for the D-backs, but their best two players -- Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero -- will represent the club on the National League squad in Tuesday night's 85th All Star Game at Target Field.
And there has to be some solace in that.
"He's a great choice," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said about Goldschmidt. "There's conversations that are going to go on about whether certain guys were the right choices or not. Paul won't be one of them. The consensus is he's earned it. We'll be excited to see him play."
About Montero, Gibson added: "I actually thought he should have been there regardless. Of course, maybe we have skewed opinions because we see him every day. He's had a very good first half for us. Good to have Goldy and Miggy there, they deserve it, good to be on that stage."
It's the second All-Star appearance for both players, who were signed, nurtured and developed in the D-backs' system.
Goldschmidt was elected by the fans as the starting first baseman for the first time this year after making the team last year at Citi Field as a reserve. Goldschmidt had a double in two at-bats after replacing Cincinnati's Joey Votto in the American League's 3-0 victory.
"I'm excited," said Goldschmidt, who leads the team with 16 homers, 36 doubles, a .308 batting average, 66 runs scored and 61 RBIs, tied with Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen for second in the NL. "It'll be fun tomorrow to have your name announced and run out on the field with the rest of the starters. I'll just try to go out there and do my part and hopefully help us win."
Montero, a member of the NL team in 2011, was a late addition to the game when Cardinals catcher and NL starter Yadier Molina sustained a ligament tear in his right thumb late last week. After surgery, Molina could miss the remainder of the season.
Montero, coming off a rare down year in 2013, leads all Major League catchers with 52 RBIs.
"It's always exciting, and it's a blessing for me to be able to go to an All-Star Game and to stay healthy so far this year and to be able to do what I'm doing so far," Montero said. "So hopefully it keeps going, getting better. I've never stopped working, you know? Even last year, I worked very hard toward a good season and it didn't happen."
For Goldschmidt, nearing his fourth complete season as a big leaguer, 2014 has presented more of the same offensive numbers. The 26-year-old, who was an eighth-round pick by the D-backs in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, is already a .293 lifetime hitter with 80 homers, 124 doubles and 294 RBIs. He was brought up to the Majors for good from Double-A Mobile on Aug. 1, 2011.
Goldschmidt is a soft-spoken Texan who doesn't like to talk about himself, leaving Gibson to put his second All-Star selection into perspective:
"I'm sure it's going to be another one of many," he said.
Montero is the opposite kind of personality. He's a take-charge leader who doesn't mind speaking his piece. Earlier in the season when the 40-56 D-backs opened the season with a 9-22 April, it was Montero who defended the jobs of Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers when the two men came under fire for the club's tough start. Tony La Russa has since been hired as the club's chief baseball officer to oversee any potential changes in baseball operations.
An international free agent signing in 2001 out of his native Venezuela, at 31 and in his ninth season, Montero is really the heart and soul of the team.
"The thing that is most impressive that you guys don't get to see is his enthusiasm that he has every day before he walks out of this locker room," Gibson said. "He's the catcher, you'd think he'd be one of the more tired people, but if we're down in the ninth inning, he's the guy who is going to say, 'Let's go, let's go, we can do this.' He always has an optimistic approach to the game. I'm very proud of him for that."
All that optimism was severely taxed last season when Montero struggled offensively and was limited to 116 games because of a back injury. Montero hovered around a .200 batting average for most of the year, only a late surge elevating him to a final batting average of .230. He's at .262 right now, just .005 below his lifetime mark, after scuffling at the start of the season again.
"The first game in Phoenix, I went 3-for-4, but in the middle of that [first] road trip, I was hitting .188 and it was tough. But I had a belief that I know I can hit," Montero said. "I know I was hitting .180, but I was hitting the ball good and I was taking my walks here and there, and I knew eventually they were going to find holes. And sure enough, they started finding holes. I'm not right where I want to be still, but I'm hopeful it will get better. I have confidence that it will get even better than it's been so far."
Certainly, the remainder of the regular season beckons, but for Goldschmidt and Montero, Tuesday night is as good as it gets.
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again allow fans to help choose the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers, for the first time, will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 platforms that support MLB.TV, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.