MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Royals still look like champs at All-Star Game

Despite up-and-down first half, players believe club can make postseason run

Royals still look like champs at All-Star Game

SAN DIEGO -- The Royals come to the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, with a status that is terrific times two. They are All-Stars and they are defending World Series champions.

It is true that where there were six Royals on the American League All-Star roster in 2015, there are now three. A fourth, closer Wade Davis, is out with a right forearm strain.

But the three Royals on hand are as legitimate as All-Stars can be. Catcher Salvador Perez, in what will be his fourth All-Star appearance, led all players in the fan balloting. First baseman Eric Hosmer will play in his first All-Star Game, but he is already widely recognized with three AL Gold Glove Awards and 17 RBIs in the 2015 postseason. Reliever Kelvin Herrera, an All-Star for the second straight season, has been in the forefront of the movement toward hard-throwing setup men who can dominate an inning before the ninth.

All-Star Game coverage begins tonight at 7:30 ET on FOX.

"It means a lot to be the first guy, to win the vote," Perez said on Monday at the AL media session. "I think I'm doing my job. I have to thank the fans, thank you for your support and thank you for everything they do for us."

On the topic of being an All-Star and a champion, Perez smiled and said: "Awesome, man. Great, great. It's a little exciting, coming here and people know you're a World Series champion."

The Royals have manager Ned Yost and their coaching staff on hand, another reminder of their World Series status.

"That definitely adds a nice ring to it," Hosmer said. "We get to have the whole [coaching] staff here. It sets a comfort level with the staff here. But the biggest thing is to be recognized with these guys. To be in the same lineup with these guys is a tremendous honor.

"It means a lot, it really does. Just to see all the talent in this room and to be recognized by the fans and by your peers, it really means a lot. It's a goal each player sets out to make. To be here, and be surrounded by the guys you see here, it's extremely special."

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For some players, being an All-Star means more than representing an organization.

"This is something that I'm never going to forget," Herrera said. "I feel proud to represent the Kansas City Royals organization and the Dominican Republic, too.

"At home, people have started recognizing me because in the Dominican Republic, you're also representing your hometown. I feel proud because there are a lot of Dominican players who have played in the All-Star Game. For me to be one of those players, that will stay with me for the rest of my life."

One other topic unites the three All-Star Royals; a belief that their club can make a major run in the second half and reach the postseason for a third straight year.

"If there's a team that can put together a run, it's us," Hosmer said. "We've had a weird first half. It's definitely been inconsistent. It seems like anytime we get someone back then someone else goes down. It's just been kind of tough. But the guys that have come up have done a great job, so we still feel that we can make a run."

"The first half was a little tough," Perez said. "[Third baseman] Mike Moustakas went out for the season [ACL injury], Lorenzo Cain was hurt [on the DL with a hamstring strain]. A lot of pitchers were hurt, Wade Davis was hurt. That's the kind of thing that can happen, you know? We've just got to keep going, try to do everything we can do with the guys we have on the field right now. I think we're going to be good. We need to focus a little bit more and play hard all the time."

The Royals are encouraged by their track record as a second-half team.

"We all know what we're capable of doing," Herrera said. "We just need to stay healthy and keep playing hard. The last two years, that's what we have been doing. This year, hopefully, we can do the same thing."

Davis, who is on the 15-day DL, opted not to attend the All-Star Game in favor of staying in Kansas City to get treatment and remain on his throwing program. His attitude remained intact.

"I want to be there, but my job is to get ready for the second half," Davis said.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.