Houston right-hander Charlie Morton was added to the American League All-Star team on Friday, giving the Astros a major league-leading six players in next week's game.
Morton joins fellow starters Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole on the squad, which also features Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, outfielder George Springer and third baseman Alex Bregman. Manager A.J. Hinch is managing the AL team. Morton is replacing Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who won't pitch in the game in order to red his sore left knee.
It's the first career selection for the 34-year-old Morton, who is in his 11th major league season. He's 11-2 with a 2.96 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 19 starts this year.
"It's kind of surreal I've been playing a long time ... I've never even been to a minor league All-Star game," Morton said.
Morton said he spent some time looking at his numbers this year and comparing them to what he'd done in the first half in years past. He was surprised to see that this was by far the best first half of his career. It was then that he got a bit down about not being named to the team when it was announced on Sunday.
"This is probably the best I've pitched," he said. "It could be the best I'll ever pitch. That could have been my one shot this year and that's where the disappointment came in when I found out I didn't make the team initially."
Hinch was thrilled to be the one to call Morton on Friday morning to deliver the good news.
"It has to mean a little bit more to him," Hinch said. "This guy has gone through just about everything from the peaks and valleys of what the game can give you. He's gone through performance, injury, change of scenery with teams ... signs here and has a tremendous impact here, gets the 27th out in the World Series ... and now he's an All-Star."
Morton, who has also played for the Braves, Pirates and Phillies, is notoriously low-key, but insisted that he was very excited about the honour.
"It wasn't that I felt like I should have been there or anything like that, it was just more like the clock's ticking," he said of not being named to the team at first. "So for (Hinch) to call me and give me the news, that's exciting for me because it's something for myself and my career I can look back and say that I was an All-Star."
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