Bautista swings into derby

Blue Jays batter Jose Bautista watches his ball fly out of the park for a home run against Phillies...

Blue Jays batter Jose Bautista watches his ball fly out of the park for a home run against Phillies at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., July 3, 2011. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI Agency)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:19 AM ET

TORONTO - A year ago at the MLB All-Star Game in Anaheim, stars from both leagues had two common comments for Jose Bautista:

1. “Congratulations, I’m happy for you.”

2. “Why aren’t you in the home-run derby?”

Bautista’s answers were “thanks” to the first one.

And a shrug of the shoulders to the second.

He was leading the majors in homers at the break a year ago — 24 in 88 games — and all that got him was an on-field pass.

Under the new format, Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz, the defending champ, and Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder will each pick three players for their respective all-star teams.

“I’m hoping to get a call from David Ortiz,” Bautista told reporters.

“I have high hopes, I’ll treat it like batting practice, a one-day thing.”

And Ortiz called Bautista, telling Boston reporters later: “When I called him to ask he was excited. I told him you’re the best in the game and I want the whole world to watch you. It’s gonna be fun. He’s got the perfect home-run swing. I love to watch him. I know he’s gonna have some fun out there.”

Bautista, the leading vote getter in the majors had 7,454,753 votes. Ken Griffey, Bautista’s favourite player growing up, along with George Bell, had the old mark with 6,069,688 votes in 1994.

New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson had the second most votes with 6,683,877.

“I appreciate the fans, it’s hard to believe ... all those votes,” Bautista said. “It’s a good feeling, something that I’ll never forget. It’s an honour to represent our team and two countries, the Dominican Republic and Canada.”

So much for the anti-Canadian bias fans complain about, despite the fact Pat Hengten, Roger Clemens and Roy Halladay won four Cy Young Awards from 1996-2003.

While his teammates are heading home on a three-day break, Bautista will fly from Cleveland to Phoenix on Sunday night for the 82nd annual all-star game at Chase Field on July 12, after the Jays close the first half of the season. Bautista, the only Toronto player named, is the first Jays player elected to start since Carlos Delgado in 2003 at Chicago’s U.S. Celluar Field.

Etobicoke first baseman Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds and Montreal catcher Russell Martin of the New York Yankees were also voted to their respective teams.

For Martin it is his third all-star trip (2007-08) and for Votto his second (2010).

Bautista is in the first year of a five-year extension which pays him $8 million U.S. this season and $14 million from 2012-15.

Elected as a outfielder, Bautista has been moved to third and leads the majors in homers with 27, walks (70) and OPS (1.158). He is batting .331 after hitting .260 last year when he hit 54 homers.

Bautista said he feels lefty Ricky Romero and first baseman Adam Lind also are all-stars.

“I’m a bit disappointed Ricky didn’t make it,” Bautista said. “It’s the manager’s choice (to select pitchers) but playing behind him, I feel like he’s an all-star.

“He deserves to be there even though his won-loss record (7-7) might not show it. His ERA does, his innings pitched, his strikeouts, the way he holds runners, everything. He’s an all-star in my eyes and hopefully he gets to go somehow.”


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