Twins pitcher Jose Berrios is headed to his first All-Star Game
MINNEAPOLIS — Over the weekend Jose Berrios called his mother back home in Puerto Rico and suggested a family vacation to Orlando, Fla., during the upcoming all-star break.
"I was thinking we'd go to the Magic Kingdom, for the kids," Berrios said Sunday, July 8. "Now we're going to Washington."
The Twins' lone selection for the July 17 All-Star Game at Nationals Park, Berrios and wife Jannieliz will gladly audible along with their three young children. Going 8-7 with a 3.54 earned-run average through 18 starts forced this welcome change of plans for the 24-year-old right-hander after being named to the American League squad.
"I put it in my mind, that goal, at the beginning of the season — to try to make the All-Star Game," Berrios said. "So I worked for that. I got myself prepared to be ready every start out there and try to help the team win. I give my 100 percent, and that's why I deserve this right now."
Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario, a surprising omission from Sunday's selections, is one of five players in the Final Man vote for the AL. He's up against Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees), Andrew Benintendi (Red Sox), Andrelton Simmons (Angels) and Jean Segura (Mariners).
Rosario leads the Twins in most offensive categories, including 18 home runs, 53 runs batted in, a .544 slugging percentage and seven outfield assists.
"I'm happy for him," Rosario said of Berrios. "He's my brother, Puerto Rican. This is a dream for both of us, but when I saw Berrios' face, I felt proud of him. At least I'm in the last vote. I hope that people will vote for me."
Also overlooked were Twins infielder Eduardo Escobar, who leads the majors with 35 doubles; and 41-year-old closer Fernando Rodney, who has 19 saves. Berrios said he was surprised to be the Twins' lone representative at this point.
"I told Esky, Rosario and Rodney they all played so well so far, but that's baseball," Berrios said. "(Major League Baseball) made a decision. Right now they just have to keep doing what they're doing, keep competing and they're to be very happy at the end of the season."
It's just the second time in the past six years the Twins could have one all-star selection. Infielder Eduardo Nunez was their representative at the 2016 game in San Diego, only to be traded before the month was out.
Berrios, a 14-game winner in 2017 now in his third big-league season, isn't going anywhere. Drafted 32nd overall in 2012, 30 picks after Byron Buxton, Berrios has cut his walk rate by one third (2.0 walks per nine innings) while pushing his strikeout rate to an even one per inning.
It's still possible Rosario, who finished ninth in fan voting among AL outfielders, or another Twins teammate will join Berrios in D.C.
"Things change," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "People back out. People get hurt. We've got the vote with Rosie. I hope people respond. We're going to do whatever we can do on our part. I think he's played like an all-star."
Already 31 innings shy of his career-high for innings in a big-league season, Berrios rebounded from a heat-marred outing at Wrigley Field to work seven strong innings at the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in his last start.
That was his 11th quality start already this year, which includes a pair of complete games and a career-best 12 strikeouts on June 24 against the Texas Rangers.
Since Johan Santana was traded a decade ago, Berrios is just the second Twins starting pitcher named an all-star. Fellow right-hander Ervin Santana was among three Twins all-stars last summer in Miami.
"It's amazing," Berrios said. "We have an opportunity to make that a goal, to play in the All-Star Game. So right now I feel happy and so excited. We know a lot of good players, a lot of big stars and hall of famers played there. Now Jose Berrios is going to be there, too."