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Lindor pushed through injury to All-Star selection

By PAUL HOYNES • Jul 1, 2019 at 7:30 PM

BALTIMORE — Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor may be the face of the franchise, and the coming face of baseball — but no one handed him an invitation to this year’s All-Star Game.

Maybe home-field advantage worked in his favor because the game is being played on July 9 at Progressive Field, but he still had to earn it. You don’t make the All-Star team for a fourth straight year by signing a few autographs and waving to the crowd.

“It’s a blessing,” Lindor said after being informed Sunday that he’d made the AL team as a reserve. "Especially with the game being at home. It’s going to be a great event. I can’t wait.

“I want to thank everyone that voted for me to be a starter and all the coaches and players who voted for me (to be a reserve). It means a lot," he added.

Lindor missed all of spring training with the big-league club because of a strained right calf. Just as he was recovering from that injury, he sprained his left ankle. The dueling injuries kept him out of the Indians’ lineup until April 20.

It took Lindor time to find his bearings, but once he did it was like he’d never been away. After hitting .243 (9-for-37) in the last nine games in April, Lindor hit .295 (33-for-112) with five homers and 14 RBIs in May. In Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Orioles, he went 1-for-5 to finish June hitting .304 (34-for-112) with four homers and seven RBIs.

When asked about Lindor being selected despite his injuries, manager Terry Francona said, “I think it shows the respect he has around the league. He’s earned that. I’m happy for him because he’s almost been the face of this team. I think that’s not only good for Cleveland, but baseball in general.”

Minnesota’s Jorge Polanco was voted the AL’s starting shortstop. Lindor was the only reserve shortstop voted onto the team by his fellow players and AL managers and coaches.

It’s a compliment because the AL shortstop position is stacked this year. Besides Polanco and Lindor, here are four shortstops who played like All-Stars in the first half.

— Tim Anderson, White Sox, .317 (86-for-271), 11 HRS, 37 RBIs, .832 OPS.

— Elvis Andrus, Rangers, .309 (94-for-304) 7 HRs, 43 RBIs, .802 OPS.

— Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox, .299 (93-for-311), 16 HRs, 57 RBIs, .932 OPS.

— Gleyber Torres, Yankees, .295 (83-for-281), 19 HRs, 47 RBIs, .848 OPS.

Lindor is hitting .291 (76-for-261) with 12 homers, 27 RBIs, .847 OPS.

“I know there are some really good shortstops this year,” Francona said. “But Frankie doesn’t have to take a back seat to anybody whether he misses a month or not.”

Lindor said this has not been his easiest season.

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs,” he said. “I’m happy playing the game I love. I don’t take anything for granted. It’s special to be in this event. It’s the greatest (baseball) event in the summer. I went through a lot of things to get here. . . I’m here.”

Lindor, 25, and Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau are the only Indians shortstops to make at least four trips to the All-Star Game. Boudreau went seven times. Lindor appeared in his first All-Star Game in 2016.

On April 26, Lindor hit the 100th homer of his career. It made him the third-youngest everyday shortstop to do so behind Hall of Famer Cal Ripken and Alex Rodriguez.

Lindor will be joined at the All-Star Game by teammates Carlos Santana and Brad Hand.

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