St. Louis Tim Lincecum plans to enjoy this trip to the All-Star game much more than his last one. The first thing he has to do is stay healthy so he can pitch.
The baby-faced San Francisco Giants ace was picked to start for the National League tonight at Busch Stadium. Toronto right-hander Roy Halladay will get the ball for the AL.
Last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner, Lincecum is 10-2 with a 2.33 ERA, making him a natural choice for NL manager Charlie Manuel. Despite a slight, boyish build, the 25-year-old right-hander is tied for the major league lead with 149 strikeouts.
Lincecum made the All-Star team last season but missed the game at Yankee Stadium because he was ill. Asked on Monday if he would take any precautions to make sure he doesn’t get sick again this year, Lincecum said he would load up on fluids to remain hydrated and have Giants teammate Matt Cain “put a leash around my neck, keep me in a room.”
“This is a great accomplishment for me,” Lincecum said, his long, shaggy hair protruding from under a black knit cap. “I think tomorrow the big thing is going to be just getting to the field. And after that, just getting on the field.”
Halladay, 10-3 with a 2.85 ERA for the Toronto Blue Jays, was selected to start by AL manager Joe Maddon of Tampa Bay.
Halladay was chosen to start over Kansas City ace Zack Greinke, among others. Greinke is 10-5 with an AL-best 2.12 ERA.
“I think Doc over the last several years has demonstrated to be possibly the best pitcher in the American League,” Maddon said. “Just based on this season and a body of work, I thought that he deserved the nod.”
David Wells was the last Toronto pitcher to start an All-Star game, in 2000. San Francisco sent Jason Schmidt to the mound six years ago.
This is Halladay’s sixth All-Star appearance, but his first starting honor — and it could be his final trip in a Toronto uniform.
Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said last week he’ll listen to trade offers for the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner, who is signed through 2010 and would have to agree to a deal.
At a news conference Monday, broadcaster Bob Costas called Halladay a member of the Blue Jays “at least for the moment,” which drew a round of uneasy chuckles.
“It’s tough. Obviously, I’m somewhere that I enjoy being and have spent my entire career. There’s a lot, I think, that goes into it,” Halladay said. “I think as a player, there’s that will to win, that will to do it in October and basically that’s what all of this has been about. I would like that chance. I’m not saying it won’t be Toronto. You’d like to be three games up in first place and not have to deal with it.”
Lincecum and Halladay each pitched Thursday, so both will be on their regular four days of rest.
In his most recent outing against San Diego, Lincecum carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and won his fourth straight outing.
Halladay, who has won more games than any other major league pitcher since 2002, has made three starts since returning from a stint on the disabled list with a groin strain.
Manuel chose one of his own Phillies players, Gold Glove winner Shane Victorino, to start in center field in place of injured Carlos Beltran, who was elected by fans.
“I wanted a guy that had played center field, was a true center fielder to put out there,” Manuel said.
Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez will lead off for the NL, followed by Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley, St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols and Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun in right. Raul Ibanez of the Phillies will be in left and bat fifth, in front of Mets third baseman David Wright, Victorino, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and Lincecum.
For the AL, Seattle right fielder Ichiro Suzuki leads off and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is in the No. 2 hole. Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer bats third, followed by New York first baseman Mark Teixeira, Boston left fielder Jason Bay, Texas center fielder Josh Hamilton, Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria, Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill and Halladay.
“It’s just a great honor for me and I’m extremely excited,” Halladay said. “A highlight moment for me in my career, so thank you.”
Hill will start in place of Boston’s Dustin Pedroia, whose wife is seven months pregnant and has been in the hospital since Monday.