Despite being limited to just 26 games because of a strained right elbow that has prevented him from playing since May 10, the Orioles' Matt Wieters leads all American League catchers in All-Star voting, according to results released Tuesday for the first time this season by Major League Baseball.
Wieters, who was batting .308 with a .839 on-base-plus slugging percentage before his injury, leads the second-place catcher -- the New York Yankees’ Brian McCann -- 540,258 votes to 373,169.
But the 28-year-old Wieters, a two-time All Star, said going to the game on July 15 in Minneapolis is not his focus.
“Right now, I’m just concerned with trying to get back out there. [The All-Star Game] is the last of my thoughts right now,” Wieters said. “It’s always nice to be able to be considered there, but I just want to get back on the field. All-Star Game or not, I just want to be out there playing.”
Wieters said his elbow continues to improve, but he still has not set a date for throwing, which is the test for if he’ll come back or need surgery.
“We’re close, but we want to get it feeling close to 100 percent before we get back there and pick up a ball,” he said. “So hopefully soon.”
Wieters, a two time All-Star, ranks fourth in overall votes in the league, behind outfielders Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels (764,007), Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays (675,290) and retiring Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (602,525).
Wieters is the only Orioles player in first place at his position, but Nelson Cruz, who leads the majors in home runs with 16, is a close second to Boston’s David Ortiz at designated hitter (Cruz has 484,186 votes, Ortiz has 501,808).
There was a question about whether Cruz’s 2013 suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal would hamper his chances of making the All-Star team.
“It shows the fans really like what you are doing on the field. It’s special,” Cruz said. “[Criticism from fans] is not as bad as it used to be last year. I guess the way I’ve been playing, may change that stuff.”
The Orioles, who had five All-Stars in 2013 -- including starters first baseman Chris Davis, shortstop J.J. Hardy and center fielder Adam Jones -- have seven players in the announced Top 5 of the voting (15 are announced for outfielders since three are chosen).
Davis, who was last year’s top vote-getter, is fourth at first base behind the Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, the Angels’ Albert Pujols and Chicago White Sox rookie Jose Abreu. Hardy (265,923) trails Jeter and Chicago’s Alexei Ramirez. Third baseman Manny Machado (263,029), who missed a month with injury, is fourth behind the Oakland Athletics' Josh Donaldson (464,367), Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria and the Texas Rangers’ Adrian Beltre.
In the outfield, Jones is seventh with 285,913 votes, and Markakis is 10th with 248,886. Trout, Bautista and New York’s Jacoby Ellsbury (417,452) currently hold the top three starting positions.
The Orioles do not have a player in the Top 5 voting at second base or the third outfield spot.
Fans can vote online, up to 25 times, at MLB.com until 11:59 p.m. on July 3. The teams will be announced during the weekend of July 5-6. The game will be held at the Minnesota Twins' Target Field on July 15.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun