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July 06, 2013

Nathan, Darvish and Cruz among Rangers headed to All-Star Game

The Texas Rangers will have at least three players at this year’s All-Star Game.

Closer Joe Nathan, starter Yu Darvish and outfielder Nelson Cruz were all selected for the Midsummer Classic on July 16 at Citi Field. Reliever Tanner Scheppers has a chance to make his first All-Star Game, too, as he’s one of five players vying for the final spot through a fan vote.

The Rangers didn’t have a position player voted in as a starter by the fans for the first time in five years. Former Rangers Chris Davis (Baltimore) and Jason Grilli (Pittsburgh) were elected. Davis received the most votes of any player this year with more than eight million.

Nathan, 38, was the only “lock” manager Ron Washington felt the Rangers had. At 38, Nathan is in the midst of arguably his best season. He has a 1.43 ERA and 28 saves, the most before the All-Star break in team history and his personal best.

“Tremendous, almost perfect,” Washington said of Nathan’s first half. “He hasn’t let us down one time when he’s taken that mound. He finds a way. He can get three outs.

“He’s gone from power to finesse. He can spin it, he can change it, he can move the fastball around the zone. This year he’s been top-notch for me.”

With the selection, Nathan becomes a six-time All-Star and said earlier this week that going would have extra meaning for him this year. Nathan grew up in the New York area, and followed the Mets as a youngster.

“It’d be pretty cool, pretty sweet,” Nathan said.

Yu Darvish earned his second straight selection after being voted in by the fans’ last season. He is

Cruz is going back to the Midsummer Classic for the second time in his career. He was an All-Star back in 2009, and also participated in the Home Run Derby.

Cruz has been a pivotal piece for the Rangers all season. He is batting .268 with 21 home runs and 65 RBIs.

“He’s got so many huge hits for us,” Washington said. “Through all the turmoil we’ve been going through, all the personnel changes, all the injuries, he’s been the one constant. We’ve certainly needed it and he’s a big reason why we are where we are.”

Cruz leads all AL outfielders with 65 RBIs, is tied with Raul Ibanez for most homers (21) and ranks among the leaders in slugging percentage (2nd, .521) and OPS (3rd, .847).

Cruz said he would be excited if he was selected, but was unsure if he would participate in the Home Run Derby again.

“It depends on how I feel,” Cruz said. “If I feel like my body is rested, I will. If I feel like I need rest, I won’t.”

Scheppers has a 1.48 ERA over 41 appearances this year, and has emerged as the team's primary setup man. He is among five relievers on the Final Vote, as well as former Ranger relievers Koji Uehara (Boston) and Joaquin Benoit (Detroit). Steve Delabar of Toronto and David Robertson of New York are also on it.

A couple Rangers had All-Star credentials but were ultimately passed up.

Left-hander Derek Holland is 6-4 with a 3.13 ERA over his first 17 starts, but wasn’t selected. And third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is batting .307 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs, wasn’t taken after making the previous three.

Beltre faced stiff competition at third base with Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson and Evan Longoria.

-- Drew Davison


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