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Uehara tabbed to replace Tanaka on AL squad

Uehara tabbed to replace Tanaka on AL squad

BOSTON -- At the age of 39 years old, Red Sox closer Koji Uehara will experience the joy of being an All-Star for the first time in his Major League career.

Uehara will replace Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who won't be available to pitch in the All-Star Game after being placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with right elbow inflammation.

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Manager John Farrell, who will manage the American League All-Stars, made it clear a few days ago that Uehara would likely be added to the team once another pitcher was taken off the roster.

"Really well deserved," said general manager Ben Cherington. "No one has pitched as well out of the bullpen for the last year plus than he has. I'm very happy for him. Hopefully he's honored by it, and he should be. He's more than deserving."

For Uehara, it was sweet to gain entry to the Midsummer Classic after falling short as a Final Vote candidate last season.

Uehara will be joined in Minneapolis by Boston's other All-Star -- ace lefty Jon Lester.

Though he didn't become a Major League closer until June 2013, Uehara has been about as dominant as possible in the role.

This season, the righty is 4-2 with a 1.30 ERA over 40 games while converting 18 of 19 save opportunities. Opponents are hitting .175 against Uehara.

Uehara's dominant splitter has played a major role in his success, as has his impeccable control.

While his contract expires at the end of 2014, Uehara could factor into Boston's plans for next season, when he will be 40.

"Absolutely," said Cherington. "I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be pitching at the end of the game next year the way he looks right now. He's been as good as anyone in baseball."

When the Red Sox went on to win the World Series in 2013, Uehara was as responsible as anyone for the success.

He was stellar in both the regular season and the postseason. Uehara finished the clinching game of all three postseason rounds with a strikeout.

Uehara was an All-Star multiple times during his career in Japan, but now he gets to see what a Major League All-Star Game is all about.

Immediately following the announcement of the AL and National League All-Star rosters on Sunday, fans began voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until the winners are announced after the voting concludes on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.

The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans help choose the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

MLB.TV Premium subscribers, for the first time, 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 platforms that support MLB.TV, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.

The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide 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.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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