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Five Jays named to AL All-Star squad

Five Blue Jays named to AL All-Star squad

TORONTO -- Maybe it's a good omen, but it's still far too early to tell. For now, it's simply a big honor for Toronto.

On Sunday, the Jays had five players named to the American League All-Star team. That represents the most All-Stars the club has had since seven were named to the squad in 1993 -- the last time Toronto took home a World Series crown.

"That's a lot, but all five are very deserving," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "I would've guessed five. We've got some good players, guys are having great years, and we've got a good club. It's good for the town."

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Starter Roy Halladay, center fielder Vernon Wells, third baseman Troy Glaus, closer B.J. Ryan and right fielder Alex Rios were all selected to join the AL for the Midsummer Classic, which will be held on Tuesday, July 11 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Joining the players will be Gibbons, who was added to the All-Star coaching staff by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen on Monday.

Before this season, the most Blue Jays picked for the All-Star game since 1993 was four in '94. The team record for total representatives at the game is 11 in 1993, when Cito Gaston managed the American Leaguers and brought three of his coaches along for the festivities.

The Jays weren't ready to believe number of selections warranted comparisons to that storied season, though.

"So far, it says that we have a handful of guys who had good first halves," Glaus said. "There's a lot more games to play and a lot more things to accomplish. Hopefully we can all stay healthy, stay together and see where it goes."

This year, the only AL team with more All-Stars than the Jays was the World Series champion White Sox, who have six players on the roster. Toronto had more players selected than their AL East rivals. The Red Sox and Yankees each had four players selected.

"I think it just shows how good this team has been," said Wells, who is hitting .315 with 20 home runs and 62 RBIs. "This is not a team that has a lot of representatives in the starting lineup -- or any.

"We don't have the kind of support that the Red Sox and Yankees have," added the two-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner. "They pretty much have their whole starting lineups starting in that game."

Unlike Boston and New York -- which combined have five All-Star starters -- Toronto does not have a starter in this season's contest. All five of the Jays representatives were selected by the players, though.

"The way that guys have been producing -- other teams are going to recognize that," Halladay said. "It always says a lot when players from other teams think that way of your players."

Halladay -- a four-time All-Star -- has now been named to the AL's pitching staff for two consecutive years, but it will be his first appearance in an All-Star game since 2003. Last season, the '03 AL Cy Young Award winner had his left leg broken by a line drive on July 8, forcing him to not only miss the All-Star game in Detroit, but the remainder of the season.

"Sometimes circumstances are out of your control," Halladay said. "It was disappointing not to be able to go last year. It's going to be more fun for me just because there are so many more guys from here going."

Halladay has bounced back from his injury this season. He's compiled a 10-2 record and posted a 3.22 ERA, which ranked fifth in the league as of Sunday. Halladay led the AL with three complete games and was tied for the league lead in wins.

Glaus, who ranks first among AL third basemen with 22 home runs, has been an All-Star four times, but this will be his first appearance since 2003. Toronto acquired Glaus in a trade with Arizona during the offseason.

"His presense in that cleanup spot is big," Gibbons said. "From the other side, you just look over and see him sitting over there. That'll make you scramble a bit. He's had a very good first half for us."

Also this past winter, the Blue Jays spent $47 million to sign Ryan to a five-year contract. The club ranked 28th in the Majors last season with just 35 saves and desperately needed to strengthen the back end of the bullpen.

Ryan has done just that. As of Sunday, the 6-foot-6 left-hander has saved 22 games -- one shy of the club record for most saves before the All-Star break. Ryan, who was a first-time All-Star last year with Baltimore, has a 0.45 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings.

"You want to be respected by your peers, absolutely," Ryan said. "There's a lot of guys who went out there and earned the respect and played good baseball throughout. It's nice to get that recognition."

The biggest surprise from the first half of the season, though, might be Rios. The 25-year-old Puerto Rican stormed out of the gate and held the league's lead in batting average for several weeks. Rios began this season in a platoon in right field, but quickly won the starting job.

Unfortunately for Rios, he won't be able to take part. The outfielder was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday after he landed in a hospital with a left leg infection. Rios will be eligible to come off the DL during the All-Star break, but he won't be playing in the game. Texas outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. was named as Rios' replacement.

Four out of five isn't bad.

"We've had a lot of guys in our clubhouse have great first halves," Wells said. "We could easily have a couple more guys who could be on this team. It's going to be a lot of fun for all of us."

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

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