ST. LOUIS -- After combining to make eight previous All-Star appearances as player or manager selectees, outfielder Matt Holliday and shortstop Jhonny Peralta learned on Sunday that they will represent the Cardinals in the July 14 Midsummer Classic as fan-elected starters for the first times in their respective careers.
Manager Mike Matheny informed both players before Sunday's 2-1 win that, after weeks of online fan voting, both earned starting assignments for the National League squad. The All-Star nod is the seventh of Holliday's career and the third for Peralta, whose previous two came as an American League player. While this is Holliday's first time as a fan-elected starter, he made the starting lineup as an injury replacement in 2008 and 2011.
"It's quite an honor to be voted in by the fans for the first time in my career," said Holliday, who maintained his place among the top three NL outfielders despite not playing since June 8. "I'm extremely grateful and excited about it and extremely thankful for all the fans who voted for me."
"This is one moment where you feel very good and excited," noted Peralta. "It means a lot to me. To come here to St. Louis, the fans support you a lot here. I appreciate the fans."
Peralta led all NL shortstops in votes during each of the six weekly updates Major League Baseball provided. He joins Ozzie Smith, Edgar Renteria, David Eckstein and Rafael Furcal as the only Cardinals shortstops to earn a fan election.
Peralta ranks first among NL shortstops in hits (90), doubles (19), homers (11) and slugging percentage (.469). His 42 RBIs trail only San Francisco's Brandon Crawford. Peralta, in the second season of a four-year contract, received the overwhelming fan support, too, less than two years after serving a 50-game suspension for his ties to the Miami-area Biogenesis clinic.
"I tried to put that in the past," said Peralta, whose previous All-Star appearances came with Detroit in 2011 and 2013. "I know fans understand that, too. … They appreciate what I'm doing right now. That's what they've shown."
"I think Jhonny has handled that situation probably as well as anybody possibly could," Matheny added. "He's just going about his business and really tried to find a new home here and start over. I think he's done that."
Though he has been out with a right quad strain for four weeks, Holliday is optimistic he'll be able to play in the showcase game. He intends to increase his running and agility work this week and, if that goes well, return to the field in Pittsburgh, where the Cardinals play their final series of the first half.
"I'm getting there," Holliday said. "I have a few more hurdles to clear with my running, but I feel like I'm getting pretty close."
Fans rewarded Holliday for his record-breaking start. He set an NL record by reaching base in 45 consecutive games to begin the season and had a slash line of .303/.417/.421 at the time of the injury.
"I think it says something not just about our fan base, but baseball, realizing that great streak that he was on and the kind of start he had," Matheny said. "I think it's been an extra motivation to Matt to hurry up and get back in there. The All-Star Game means a lot to them. He was as excited as a guy who has never been there before."
With Holliday as a fan-elected choice, the Cardinals will have a starting outfielder in the NL All-Star lineup for the fourth time in five years. Lance Berkman (2011) and Carlos Beltran (2012-13) preceded him. Holliday never fell out of the top three NL outfielder vote-getters during the voting period.
Contrastingly, third baseman Matt Carpenter dropped from the top spot among NL third basemen after leading until the final days. Todd Frazier, who plays for the hosting Reds, leapfrogged him late. Carpenter, catcher Yadier Molina and second baseman Kolten Wong were all in the mix for a starting assignment until the end.
Fans can return to MLB.com to begin voting to select the final player for each League's 34-man roster via the 2015 Esurance All-Star Game Final Vote. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until 3 p.m. CT on Friday, July 10.
The voting doesn't end there. During the Midsummer Classic in Cincinnati on Tuesday, July 14, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers will be able to live stream the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities, including the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on Monday, July 13. The Derby will feature a new format with brackets and timed rounds and will be broadcast live by ESPN and MLB.com beginning at 7 p.m. CT.
The 86th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (6 p.m. CT air time, 7:15 first pitch), in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.