When he was traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Orioles in February as part of the Erik Bedard deal, George Sherrill couldn't get one thought out of his head. He wondered why a team committed to rebuilding would want a reliever who turned 31 in April.
The answer is that team president Andy MacPhail saw last year how important it was to have a veteran anchor for the back end of the bullpen. In his first year as closer, Sherrill has been all that and more for the Orioles, and yesterday he was rewarded by being selected for his first All-Star Game.
Chosen by American League manager Terry Francona, Sherrill is the Orioles' lone All-Star, though there's still a chance second baseman Brian Roberts could make the team. The 79th All-Star Game will be held July 15 at Yankee Stadium, which will close after the season.
"Hopefully, I can represent these guys in here and the organization well," said Sherrill, who is second in the AL with 27 saves and fourth with 41 appearances. "To be going there for the last [year] at Yankee Stadium, I'm just in a really fortunate position. It's a tremendous honor."
Roberts, a two-time All-Star, was named one of five candidates to make the team as a result of the All-Star Game Final Vote. Roberts will be competing against the Chicago White Sox's Jermaine Dye, the New York Yankees' Jason Giambi, the Kansas City Royals' Jose Guillen and the Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria. The winner will be determined by fan voting on mlb.com and will be announced shortly after the voting closes Thursday.
"I don't know a whole lot about it except I don't think I'll win," said Roberts, who is first in the AL in doubles and triples and fourth in stolen bases. "I'd say you probably need to be playing at home and you'd probably need to be in a big market. But that's OK. I know there are a lot of guys having good years. It's not the end of the world."
If Roberts doesn't go - and several Orioles, including Sherrill and manager Dave Trembley, vowed to head home and vote the allowable number of times - it would be the eighth time in the past nine years that the Orioles will be represented by one player at the All-Star Game.
The Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox each had seven players selected. Four members of the world champion Red Sox were chosen to start - first baseman Kevin Youkilis, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, outfielder Manny Ramirez and designated hitter David Ortiz, who is on the disabled list. Shortstop Derek Jeter and third baseman Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees will also start, and they'll be joined on the squad by teammate Mariano Rivera in the bullpen.
The Cubs have three starters - catcher Geovany Soto and outfielders Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano. Former Oriole and current Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada made the National League team as a reserve. It will be Tejada's fifth All-Star berth.
For Sherrill, it was a shock to get a first one. The Tennessee native was offered a scholarship by only one school (Austin Peay) and spent four-plus seasons in the independent leagues before signing with Seattle in 2003. Last year, he developed into one of the top situational left-handers in baseball, but the furthest thing from his mind was pitching in an All-Star Game.
"It's drastic the changes that happen in this game," said Sherrill, who was summoned yesterday morning into Trembley's office, where he received the news. "When he told me, I was shocked, still am a little bit. It's just an honor."