Once again, the protagonism of Latin American players is guaranteed in the 89th edition of the All-Star Game that will be played on Tuesday at the Nationals Park in Washington with the presence of 21 players, including 15 from the American League teams. and five of the National.
At 38 years of age, the Seattle Mariners designated hitter, Nelson Cruz, is the longest-serving All-Star player, something that has happened to him before.
"It's the second time they tell me that," joked the slugger. "Last year was the same."
The time does not seem to count for Cruz in his offensive work after the season is batting .267 with 22 homers and 55 RBIs despite being out during part of April for a sprained right ankle.
In his first three seasons with Seattle after signing with the club for four years prior to the 2015 season, the native of Las Matas de Santa Cruz averaged 42 homers and 106 RBIs.
His ability to stay healthy is equally impressive and has allowed him to average 153 games a year in that stretch.
Something he says is not a secret but simply the result of working hard, knowing his body, and applying the experience to understand what are the important things you need to do on a daily basis to stay on the field.
The case of Puerto Rican catcher Yadier Molina, of the Cardinals of San Luis, is just as exemplary when returning in star plan after a month and a half ago, nobody knew if he would be able to participate in his ninth Classic Half Season.
On May 5, Molina was hit by a Chicago Kris Bryant bat-tipped foul that went against a 102-mile-an-hour straight from St. Louis right-hander Jordan Hicks and hit him in the pelvis. that amazes how he has recovered from such a delicate injury, that he lost a month of competition.
In the case of the Cardinals at the collective level, the frequency of victories was not enough to save the position of pilot Mike Matheny, who was fired on Saturday night.
But on an individual level, Molina resumed his solid at-bat season when he returned, putting .276 / .336 / .491 with seven homers and 24 runs produced since he came back from the disabled list.
Now, Molina has .274 / .315 / .474 in 2018, with 13 homers and 41 RBIs since the new season began, which made him worthy of his ninth call to the All-Star Game, leader of Latin Americans who have been selected.
Molina also equaled the legendary Orlando Cepeda with the third highest call mark. The record is held by Hall of Famers, Ivan Rodriguez and Roberto Clemente (14), followed by Roberto Alomar (12).
If Molina and Cruz are veterans in the All-Star Game, Puerto Rican second baseman Javier Báez and Venezuelan wide receiver Willson Contreras, both players of the Chicago Cubs, were selected by the fans to be the starters in La Liga's ninth National for the first time in his career.
Báez, 25, who is already known by the nickname "El Mago" for the geniuses he plays in both attack and defense, will be accompanied in the "Classic of Summer" by five other Puerto Rican players.
Along with Molina, Báez will also be the Cleveland Indians' infielder Francisco Lindor, while for the first time in the history of the All-Star Game there will be three Puerto Rican pitchers.
It's about starters José Berríos and Joe Jiménez, plus star closer Edwin Díaz, of the Mariners, leader of the Major Leagues in rescues.
The six Puerto Rican participants are the largest representation since 2003, in Chicago, when six also attended. The record dates back to 1997, in Cleveland, with eight Puerto Rican players.
"Baseball in Puerto Rico I think is back, we showed it last year with our participation in the World Classic. This year we are six and we hope that the next one will be many more, "said Díaz.
Venezuela will also take center stage in the All-Star Game with Contreras, 26, who has become a pillar in the defensive and offensive game of the Cubs, who are already leaders in the Central Division of the Old Circuit.
Contreras deserved to be in his first All-Star Game with a .279 batting average with seven homers and 34 RBIs so far this season.