All-Star spotlight shines on Baez

All-Star spotlight shines on Baez

MINNEAPOLIS -- Danys Baez will represent the Devil Rays in the 2005 All-Star Game.

"It's a great moment in my career," Baez said. "It's like a dream. It's great to know I'm going to be there representing our team among all the great players who go to the game year in and year out."

Through Sunday, the Rays closer had a 4-2 record with a 2.83 ERA and 13 saves in 29 games. He had converted his last six save opportunities.

"I was surprised," said Baez of his selection. "You never know who they're going to pick. "That was a [Terry] Francona decision that depended on what [the American League team] needed."

Baez said he could easily have seen left-fielder Carl Crawford or infielder Jorge Cantu being the Rays' choice.

"Cantu has done a good job," Baez said. "And Crawford has already had a lot of good years."

Because the Rays bullpen has been in a constant state of change during the season's first half, Baez has often been used in the eighth inning before pitching the ninth.

Eight of Baez's saves have been earned by working more than one inning, including seven of his last 10 saves. He leads the Major Leagues with 18 saves of more than one inning over the last two seasons.

"He's a solid pick," said Rays manager Lou Piniella. "Danys has done a nice job the two years he's been here. He's a competitor."

Baez picked up his 13th save on June 27 while preserving a 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. It was Baez's 43rd save as a Devil Ray, moving him past Esteban Yan for second most in club history. Roberto Hernandez owns the franchise record with 101 saves.

Typifying the kind of work Baez does was his contribution in the Rays' recent series against the Yankees on June 20-23, when the team won three out of four games in the Bronx. Baez saved all three wins, pitching more than one inning in each outing to earn the saves.

Piniella said the saves have been tough to earn this season.

"Last year, we had a lot of three-run saves," Piniella said. "This year, we've had a lot of close games, games that are in the balance all the time."

Baez said he did not have make any last-minute changes to attend the game.

"I didn't really have any plans," Baez said. "I was thinking about going down to Miami to see my family."

All-Star Game 2005

Baez got the news of the selection from Rays traveling secretary Jeff Ziegler, who informed him about travel arrangements and other matters relating to the game.

Baez plans on bringing his own contingent to Detroit.

"I want to bring my wife and daughter, and my mom and dad," Baez said.

Baez has allowed only 22.7 percent of inherited runners to score, good for ninth in the American League.

In 2004, Baez established a career high of 30 saves in 33 opportunities.

The All-Star Game, to be held at Detroit's Comerica Park on Tuesday, July 12 at 8 p.m. ET, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.