Lee, Ramirez named NL All-Stars
Late surge boosts Lee past Pujols into starting lineup
CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee, who has revived talk of a Triple Crown, was the leading vote-getter in the National League and will make his first start in the All-Star Game. Aramis Ramirez was named as a reserve and also will represent the Cubs.
Lee, the giant Cubs infielder who leads the NL in batting with a .383 average and has ranked among the top two or three in home runs and RBIs, edged St. Louis' Albert Pujols to win the starting spot. This will be Lee's first trip to the All-Star Game.
Lee received 3,560,316 votes to top Pujols, who received 3,455,017, a difference of 105,299 votes. The Cubs' first baseman was the top NL vote-getter online, receiving 3,277,475 votes, combined, at Cubs.com and MLB.com.
"It's an honor," Lee said. "It shows the fans are paying attention. They took notice that I had a good first half, and they supported me. It feels great."
Ramirez will also make his first trip to the All-Star Game. He was named a reserve on the National League team, and was the players' choice at third base while the fans selected St. Louis' Scott Rolen.
"I know everyone in the league appreciates what I've done this year," said Ramirez, who is batting .301 with 18 home runs and 52 RBIs.
"That's a positive thing today," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said of the selection of Lee and Ramirez, which came as good news after a tough 5-4, 12-inning loss to the Nationals. "Both of them are deserving, and I hope they go there, start and have a good time."
Last year, Carlos Zambrano, Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou represented the Cubs at the All-Star Game.
The All-Star Game, to be held at Detroit's Comerica Park on July 12 at 7 p.m. CT, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.
Neither Lee nor Ramirez will participate in the Home Run Derby. Lee said he declined an invitation because of some inflammation in his left shoulder, which has been bothering him for a while.
Lee got off to a fast start, winning NL Player of the Month honors after hitting for a .419 average in April. He followed that by hitting .313 in May and .407 in June. Last year at the break, he had 12 homers and 49 RBIs. He's on pace this season to belt a career-high 52 homers.
On Saturday against the Washington Nationals, Lee collected his eighth three-hit game of the season and missed hitting for the cycle by a double. He singled in the first, tripled and scored on Aramis Ramirez's ground out in the fourth, and hit his 25th home run leading off the sixth.
"We tried different things," Nationals pitcher Tony Armas Jr. said. "He's a guy you can't pitch to right now. God, you make high pitches, low pitches -- he is hitting everything."
"He's doing his thing every day," Baker said of Lee. "He's most of our offense right now. We've got a few guys swinging the bat well, but Derrek's swinging the bat outstanding."
Lee has taken the success this season in stride.
Lee trailed Pujols in the fan balloting as recently as last Tuesday, but a surge of online voting helped boost him into the starting lineup. The last Cub first baseman to make an All-Star appearance was Mark Grace in 1997. Lee already has won one World Series ring with the Florida Marlins in 2003. What more does he want in his career?
"More World Series rings," Lee said. "You only play to win. You play the game to win, it's as simple as that. You do what you can to help your team win, and that's the bottom line."
Teams have pitched him inside and out. The Milwaukee Brewers tried to stop Lee by utilizing a defensive shift, moving the infielders to the left side of the infield. He has hit .277 against them with five homers and eight RBIs.
"Derrek Lee has killed us," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. "We can't even get him out. If you make the slightest mistake, he's going to hit it hard somewhere. He's unbelievable."
Ramirez hit a career-high 36 home runs last season and is on his way to another 30-homer season this year. The third baseman batted .365 in June with seven homers and 23 RBIs.
Ramirez was selected through the voting by Major League players, coaches and managers. He received 328 votes to top Houston's Morgan Ensberg. Ramirez was second in the fan balloting, picking up 2,373,677 votes. Rolen received 2,742,864.
"It's a great honor," Ramirez said. "It's my first [All-Star Game], and, hopefully, it's not my last one."
Ramirez had an All-Star-type moment in the ninth inning on Sunday when he hit a game-tying two-run homer with two outs against the Nationals.
Baker often calls Ramirez his RBI man, and the third baseman has responded, batting .326 with runners on base. Left-handed pitchers beware -- he's hitting .417 against southpaws.
Last season, he reached the 100-RBIs mark for the third time in his career and set a club record for most home runs by a Cubs third baseman. Ron Santo held the old mark of 33 in 1965.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.