Cruz's big first half earns All-Star selection

Slugger joins Edgar as second Mariner elected as DH

Cruz's big first half earns All-Star selection

OAKLAND -- When the Mariners signed Nelson Cruz to a four-year contract last winter, they hoped to add a productive veteran right-handed bat to the middle of their order. And Cruz has certainly lived up to his end of the deal, becoming an American League All-Star starter at designated hitter with an outstanding first half.

Cruz was named to the AL team on Sunday's Esurance All-Star Starters Selection Show on ESPN. He becomes the second Mariners designated hitter elected by fans to start the All-Star Game, presented by T-Mobile in Cincinnati, joining his new hitting coach, Edgar Martinez, who topped the balloting in 1997, 2001 and 2003.

"I guess the Seattle people did the job," Cruz said after overcoming Kendrys Morales of the Royals with a late voting push in the last two weeks. "I have to thank the whole organization. The public relations department did a really nice job. And the people from the Dominican, I know they're always behind me. It's just nice. It's a little special when you get the vote from the fans and they want to see you there."

It's the fourth All-Star selection for Cruz, who was named as a reserve outfielder in 2009 and '13, while with the Rangers, and was elected by the fans at DH last year for the Orioles, when he wound up leading the Majors with 40 home runs in his lone season with Baltimore.

"Last year was more of a surprise because fighting Big Papi, he's the king of DHs," Cruz said. "But it doesn't get old. Anytime you go to the All-Star Game, you've done something good along the way. I'm really happy. I've been blessed with that."

Cruz wound up outpolling Morales, thanks to superior numbers. The 35-year-old Dominican native went into Sunday's play ranked third among all AL hitters in home runs (21) and slugging percentage (.555), fifth in OPS (.921), sixth in hits (91), seventh in batting average (.304), 10th in RBIs (50) and 13th in on-base percentage (.366).

"He's been tremendous," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon.

Position players voted in as All-Star starters were named on Sunday. Felix Hernandez, who started last year's game for the AL, was selected Monday, when pitchers and reserves were announced. The Mariners will also be represented by McClendon, who was selected by Royals manager Ned Yost to be part of the coaching staff.

Fans can now 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 1 p.m. PT on Friday.

And 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 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 5 p.m. PT.

The 86th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (4 p.m. PT air time, 5:15 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.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.