All-Star Festivities

All-Star Soria.jpgThe Royals have three representatives at the All-Star game this week. Joakim Soria is the only player, but Director of Community Relations Ben Aken is helping Major League Baseball’s efforts to promote the game throughout New York. Hopefully we can get an update and maybe some photos from him as the week goes by.

The Royals other All-Star, Vice President of Communications and Broadcasting Mike Swanson (Swanee) has already been plenty busy. But he’s taking pictures with his phone (he apologizes for the quality) and keeping tabs on Soria for all of us back here in Kansas City.

7-14 Presser 1.JPGThis morning, the All-Stars had a 50-minute “assembly-line” media session. Swanee said the players were just lined up in a conference room and media made stops at each table.

Soria was conducting interviews with everybody who came by and in as many languages as he could speak (Around the Horn is pretty sure that’s just two, English and his native tongue Spanish).

One note about his heritage, Soria is the only Mexican player on either All-Star roster. In fact there are only 15 Mexican players who have played in the Majors this season and just 103 to ever play in the Majors. In comparison, the Dominican Republic has fielded 115 players in 2008.

Soria is the most dominant Mexican pitcher of all-time (only pitchers with at least 10 appearances were considered). His current 2.09 ERA in 112 innings edges Cy Acosta, who held a 2.66 ERA over 186 innings from 1972-75. And his batting average against is a full 40 points lower than Jose Cecena who established a .213 average against in 22 games in 1988 (Acosta holds a .216 batting average against).   

7-14 Presser 2.JPGSwanee told Around the Horn that Soria was stationed between two popular stops, Carlos Quentin of the White Sox and the Yankees Mariano Rivera (he’s the cause of the glare from the lights in the picture). Quentin is currently second in the American League in home runs (22) and RBI (70).

While Rivera, one of three players representing the host team, is considered one of the greatest closers of all-time. He’s putting together another solid season this year, sixth in the A.L. in saves with 23 which happens to be one spot and two saves behind Soria who’s 5th and tied a Royals pre-All-Star break record with 25 saves.

7-14 Derby.jpgHome Run Derby Tonight
Swanee also reports that he’s in charge of the American League Home Run Derby players. He sent Around the Horn a photo from their press conference. Representing the league with the DH, will be four non-DH’s. Swanee should have an easy time with a pair of divisional opponents,  Minnesota’s Justin Morneau and Clevland’s Grady Sizemore, in the mix. The A.L. will also send the Ranger’s Josh Hamilton, Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria to the plate. The National League will have Houston’s Lance Berkman, the Brewers’ Ryan Braun, the Marlin’s Dan Uggla and Philadelphia’s Chase Utley vying for the title.

7-14 HR Conf.jpgSwanee’s American League guys are featured in the photo, going from left to right Hamilton (in red), Longoria, Morneau and Sizemore. Angel’s slugger Vladimir Guerrero hit 17 homers last year in San Francisco to win it all. Around the Horn doesn’t have a favorite, but is just pulling for the American League to keep the title. The Derby starts at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN. For more coverage, go here.

Around the Horn hopes to deliver more All-Star coverage throughout the week, keeping in touch with our inside man in New York. Swanee, thanks for the photos.

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