Votto, Phillips, Bruce to represent Reds at ASG

Votto, Phillips, Bruce to represent Reds at ASG

CINCINNATI -- Three Reds players were elated on Sunday upon learning that they were going to the All-Star Game. For all three, however, there was an even higher degree of satisfaction in how they were selected.

First baseman Joey Votto, second baseman Brandon Phillips and right fielder Jay Bruce were all named as National League All-Star reserves because they were voted in by their fellow players around the league. A total of eight NL players made the roster via player vote.

"It's an honor to go there, especially to get voted on by the players," Phillips said. "That right there was very unexpected. It's nice to know that the players recognize my play, and I'm going to go out there and represent the Cincinnati Reds. That's going to be awesome."

The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be played on July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. It will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive coverage.

On Sunday, no Reds were named All-Star starters via the fan balloting.

Both Votto and Phillips finished in second place at their positions and lost out to members of the rival Brewers who made strong surges in the final week of voting. First baseman Prince Fielder had 4,864,523 votes and was more than 610,000 ballots ahead of Votto, who finished with 4,254,305 votes and ahead of the injured Albert Pujols of the Cardinals.


"Had I won the starting spot from the fans, I would have been very happy about that," Votto said. "To be voted by your peers, in my opinion, that's what I play for."

Phillips was leading in nearly every balloting update until Weeks passed him last week and finished with 4,460,395 votes to Phillips' 4,273,079 -- a difference of more than 187,000. During the final update, Weeks' lead was only around 78,000.

All three players were told individually that they were All-Stars when called into Reds manager Dusty Baker's office.

"All three were voted by the players, which I think is more respectful, because that's how it used to be in the old days," Baker said. "Not to slight the fans at all, but the players have a different appreciation for All-Stars. I think it's great that they were chosen.

"Hopefully, they go there and come back feeling like All-Stars, bringing that to our team -- that feeling of being an All-Star and more of a leadership role because of the accolades you just received."

The one who walked out of Baker's office a little stunned was Bruce, who struggled throughout the month of June.

"I'm excited about it," Bruce said. "[Baker] didn't preface anything when he told me. It was a surprise in that regard for sure. I thought I had a chance to make it. I wouldn't be totally surprised if I didn't, because there are a lot of good players out there having good years. I'm happy to be part of it."

No doubt, players around the league were impressed by the 24-year-old Bruce's spectacular month of May, when he batted .342 with 12 home runs and 33 RBIs to win NL Player of the Month honors.

"When voting took place was obviously when I was having more success more often," Bruce said. "But it's why it's the whole season. It's not just a month or just a couple of weeks."

Votto was thrilled for Bruce, knowing that one of his closest friends in the Reds' clubhouse was going to his first All-Star Game.

"I was probably more happy that he got in than myself," Votto said. "He had such a great month. He hit so many homers that he should get in there. I'm really happy for him and obviously Brandon. He was a layup, an easy pick for Brandon to go. I'm kind of surprised he's not starting, when you consider his whole package. That's no disrespect to [Weeks], but he's my teammate."

This will be Votto's second consecutive All-Star Game. The 2010 NL Most Valuable Player, he entered Sunday batting .316 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs. His MVP aura has had pitchers not giving him as many strikes or good pitches to hit this season, which has slowed his power numbers.

However, the 27-year-old Votto leads the league with a .436 on-base percentage and 62 walks. And he can be counted on in the clutch with a .425 average with runners in scoring position, which also leads the league. He has reached safely in 78 of the 83 games he played going into Sunday.

At this time last year, Votto was a controversial snub from the original roster, but he wound up making the team via the MLB.com All-Star Final Vote when he won the contest with over 13 million ballots cast.

"Boy oh boy, is it ever nice to not have to wear T-shirts and stuff," the usually attention-shy Votto said. "I will say this -- on the background on my iPad is a picture of me and six or seven of my teammates wearing the 'Vote Votto' shirts. Where you lose something, you gain something else. In that instance, I felt like I learned a lot about teammates and what this team is about and friendship."

Also a two-time All-Star in back-to-back seasons, Phillips entered Sunday batting .296 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs. A two-time NL Gold Glove Award winner, including in 2010, Phillips has committed only two errors this season and frequently wows with spectacular defensive plays.

Between his frequency on highlight reels for defense and his over 75,000 followers on Twitter, the 30-year-old Phillips has emerged even more to a national audience this season.

"I'll be tweeting a lot and taking a lot of pictures for the fans," Phillips said. "Just going out there and being with all the best players in Major League Baseball, that's a privilege and an honor also. I'm excited and just happy that I can go back to the All-Star Game."

Fans, having already decided the starters, this week will have the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 7. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter. No Reds are part of the Final Vote contest.

On July 12, fans once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com.

All three Reds All-Stars would be open to participating in the State Farm Home Run Derby on July 11, if they are asked by Fielder -- who is the NL derby captain.

"If they ask me to do it, I'll probably do it," Phillips said. "I know the Reds probably don't want me to do it. I feel like I could put a show on for the fans."

Having strong seasons but not going to the All-Star Game are starting pitcher Johnny Cueto and closer Francisco Cordero. Cueto has a 1.84 ERA in 10 starts this season but missed the first month while on the disabled list and probably didn't have enough games. Cordero has 16 saves in 18 chances with a 1.53 ERA.

For the players that are headed to Phoenix next week, they are not taking the high honor for granted, especially since they are fully aware of who made it happen and why.

"Mainly, I just wanted to be respected by the players," Bruce said. "Everyone that is up here has talent, and I think the way you go about your business and the professionalism that you exude is a big part of how players and coaches see you. A lot of guys -- at the end of your career -- they don't really remember how many times you make the All-Star team or how many home runs you hit. They're going to remember the type of guy you are. Along with being a good player, I want to be someone who is well-respected and well-liked."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.