Jeter, Tex, Mo headed to All-Star Game
Captain, slugger voted as starters; closer tabbed by peers
NEW YORK -- Mark Teixeira was not glued to the progress reports of fan balloting for the 2009 All-Star Game, but his friends and family made sure to keep him updated. All he knew was this: there was ground to make up.
Teixeira's back-and-forth battle with Red Sox counterpart Kevin Youkilis to serve as the American League's starting first baseman ended on Sunday, and the slugger is headed to the July 14 contest at St. Louis' Busch Stadium, joined by Junior Circuit leading vote-getter Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, both 10-time All-Stars.
"I'm so appreciative of the fans," Teixeira said. "Since I've been here, I've said they were the best fans in the country. I want to thank all of the fans for going out there and voting. It just shows how passionate Yankees fans are.
"There's probably four or five first basemen that deserve to go and deserve to start, but you've got to give credit to the Yankees fans for getting me there."
Jeter paced the AL in votes received for the first time in his career, appearing on 4,851,889 ballots to earn his sixth start in the Midsummer Classic.
"It makes you feel good when people respect the way you play, even though they may not be Yankees fans," Jeter said. "It means a lot."
Rivera, the second player in Major League history to record 500 or more saves, was tabbed in player balloting to serve in the AL's bullpen.
"I've been there a few times, and it's a privilege," Rivera said. "To me, they're all special. I just want to enjoy it."
The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. 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.
Teixeira's only previous All-Star appearance came in 2005, when he represented the Rangers. To make it this time, the 29-year-old needed a late boost to overtake Youkilis, as both the New York and Boston fan bases pushed hard.
According to totals provided by MLB, with two days remaining in the race on Tuesday, Youkilis was ahead by 40,047 votes, owning more than 1.9 million votes. But Teixeira covered the deficit plus some, collecting 3,309,050 votes to edge out Youkilis (3,069,906), last year's AL starting first baseman.
"It's special, the first time as a Yankee," Teixeira said. "I was hoping to get off to a good start here, and the team, especially playing the way we are now, it's great to have Derek, Mo and myself to represent the Yankees."
Having been picked for last year's Midsummer Classic send-off to Yankee Stadium, Jeter said that he would be fine with never making another All-Star Game as long as he played in that 15-inning affair, which was won, 4-3, by the AL on Michael Young's sacrifice fly.
But the fans were receptive to sending the 35-year-old out for a return engagement. Jeter has performed more fluidly this season as a defensive player, improving his range through positioning, and has remained a consistent offensive performer.
"I've said it time and time again, but it never gets old," Jeter said. "It's something that every player wants to be a part of it. If they tell you they don't, I think they're lying to you. There's a lot of great players out there, so it's great to be going."
Jeter owns a .474 (9-for-19) career average in the All-Star Game, ranking fifth all time. He was the MVP of the 2000 All-Star Game in Atlanta, going 3-for-3 with a run scored and two RBIs in the AL's 6-3 victory, becoming the only Yankee to earn those honors.
In All-Star play, Rivera has earned three saves in allowing one unearned run over seven innings, tying Dennis Eckersley for the most All-Star Game saves all-time.
Rivera threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings in the All-Star Game last year at Yankee Stadium, entering with one out and one on in the ninth inning, and he later donated his jersey and dirt from the mound to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He said that his favorite parts of the experience come before the games.
"Mingling with all the guys, having chit-chat and conversations," Rivera said. "Trading ideas, just getting to know them better. We become teammates for the first time, maybe, in our careers. We are going for the same goals."
Manager Joe Girardi said that he reveled in dispensing the news to his three representatives before the Yankees' 10-8 victory over the Blue Jays on Sunday.
"I'm extremely excited for them," Girardi said. "As a manager, you get the pleasure of telling them. Seeing how excited they are and thankful they are is a great part of my job. They're thrilled to be voted in by the fans, and for Mo to be voted in by his peers, it's pretty special."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.