BALTIMORE - The Orioles will have more than one all-star representative for the first time in seven years, which seems fitting given their successful start to the season.
Center fielder Adam Jones, catcher Matt Wieters and closer Jim Johnson were chosen Sunday as reserves for the American League all-star team and will head to Kansas City for the Midsummer Classic on July 10.
In addition, starter Jason Hammel is one one five finalists to secure a final roster spot as voted on by the fans. Hammel (8-3, 3.29 ERA) joins Jonathan Broxton, Yu Darvish, Ernesto Frieri and Jake Peavy on the ballot, and voting ends Thursday at 4 p.m. and fans can vote online at http://www.theorioles.com.
"It's pretty cool," Jones said before Sunday's game, joined on a podium by his fellow all-stars. "For the last seven years it's been one player. You have to win to get more than one player nowadays. ... Four, that's a large number. You usually see Boston or New York or [Los Angeles] with four, but the men that are sitting here on this stage are four deserving men."
Jones leads the team with a .302 batting average and has 19 home runs and 38 RBIs
Wieters was an all-star last year and the fifth different Orioles player in five years to make the team (Brian Roberts in 2007, George Sherrill in 2008, Jones in '09, and Ty Wigginton in 2010 were the others). Wieters is batting .249 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs this season.
Now he's back, and he has company.
"I feel very blessed," said Wieters, one of three catchers on the AL squad. "I didn't know whether or not I'd be making a trip out there again this year. I'm definitely glad to get to experience it again and I'm going to have a blast out there. I think it will be even better this year because we get to share it each other."
Johnson's 23 saves are tied for the most in the majors and he's 1-0 with a 1.30 ERA in 34 games. Before this season, Johnson had 21 career saves in 37 chances.
"It's one of the more special things that happened so far in my career," he said. "I'm looking forward to it. But it's not the end all, be all. I think there's more important stuff that needs to be accomplished. It's a good stepping stone. I think of it that way."
Wieters supported his relief pitcher.
"You can look at any of the great closers in the game, and you can put Jim's first half up there with anyone," Wieters said. "I'll take Jim's over everybody, and I'll take Jim over other closers."
Led by Jones, the Orioles' all-stars agreed that being selected is a big honor. And they know the importance of helping the AL try to win the game and secure home-field advantage in the World Series.
But they also seemed to view the multiple all-star nods as a positive for what the team has done so far this season.
"It shows, maybe, the direction the ballclub is going," Johnson said. "To get some key guys, you know you can have a core group of guys and build from there, and obviously share something special with your teammates, will be a lot of fun."