Cano, Hernandez named to AL All-Star team

A Mariners team that has been one of baseball’s biggest surprises in the first half of the season was rewarded with two All-Star selections on Sunday as Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez earned invitations to the Midsummer Classic.

Cano was voted onto the team by fans, while Hernandez was voted in by the players.

The Mariners have two other deserving candidates in closer Fernando Rodney and third baseman Kyle Seager and both still figure as prime contenders to be added to the American League squad later if openings occur due to injuries or pitchers who can’t participate after throwing on Sunday prior to the game.

“Well deserved,” manager Lloyd McClendon said of his two All-Stars. “Those guys performed extremely well in the first half. That’s a nice honor. There’s some other things going on and hopefully we’ll get a couple more guys on there. We’ll see what happens.

“My closer is leading the league in saves. That’s pretty good. My third baseman’s numbers are as good as any third baseman’s in the league. They’re both deserving. This is a tough process. Somebody has to be left off, but hopefully it’s not them.”

Cano and Hernandez, two of the game’s brightest and best-paid stars, won’t have to play that waiting game, however. Cano became the first Mariners position player voted into the starting lineup since Ichiro Suzuki in 2010 as he won his fifth straight fan balloting at second base.

“It’s still special,” Cano said. “It’s a chance to show the fans who voted me to the All-Star team that it’s something I’m excited about and have in my heart, to get that voting now that I’m with a new team and they’re watching and appreciating what I’m doing here.”

Cano becomes just the third second baseman in AL history to be selected by the fans to start five consecutive years, joining Hall of Famers Rod Carew (six straight from 1970-75) and Roberto Alomar (five straight from 1996-2000). The two other AL second basemen with five or more straight starts are also in the Hall of Fame – Nellie Fox (1955-59) and Charlie Gehringer (1933-38).

Cano’s previous four starting berths came as a member of the Yankees. He’s just the fourth Mariners infielder ever elected by the fans, joining second baseman Bret Boone (2001), first baseman John Olerud (2001) and shortstop Alex Rodriguez (1997-98 and 2000). This will be Cano’s sixth All-Star appearance as he also was named as a reserve in 2006, though he was injured and didn’t appear in that game.

Hernandez earned his fifth All-Star bid – tying Randy Johnson for the most for a Mariners pitcher — and has a legitimate chance to be named the AL’s starter in the July 15 game in Minneapolis. The 28-year-old ace leads the AL in ERA at 2.11 and owns a 10-2 record with one start remaining next Friday against the A’s before the All-Star break.

Asked if he’d like to start the game, Hernandez just grinned and shrugged his shoulders.

“That’s not my decision,” he said. “If they say yes, I will.”

While Seager has put up outstanding numbers, he didn’t finish in the top eight in fan voting for AL third basemen.

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