Estévez named to All-Star Game for first time

Angels closer to replace Guardians' Clase on American League squad

July 8th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- For Angels closer , it was worth the wait.

The seven-year veteran was disappointed he wasn’t named an All-Star when the rosters were first unveiled on Sunday, but he was added to the American League squad on Friday, marking his first All-Star selection. He replaces Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase, who is missing the Midsummer Classic to attend the birth of his child. And he joins superstars Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout as All-Stars this year for the Angels, although Trout will miss the game after suffering a left hamate fracture on Tuesday.

“It feels amazing,” Estévez said. “I’m really excited. I’m at a loss for words with this feeling. I’m going to Seattle. Anyone who plays this game wants to go to the All-Star Game at least once. So I can say this is a dream come true.”

It’s a deserving honor for Estévez, who has posted a 1.85 ERA while going a perfect 21-for-21 in save opportunities. Angels manager Phil Nevin called a team meeting before Friday’s game against the Dodgers to give Estévez the surprising news he was added as an All-Star.

“You try to make those moments special,” Nevin said. “He deserved to be in there from the beginning. It doesn’t matter how you get in. You’re being recognized as one of the best. So I’m really happy for him. You try not to take for granted that Mike has been there 11 times and Shohei has three times. But this is his first time, so it’s special.”

Estevez, 30, previously pitched six seasons with the Rockies before signing a two-year deal worth $13.5 million in the offseason. He was a solid setup reliever with Colorado but wasn't a full-time closer until this season. His previous high in saves was 11 in 2016 and again in '21. But now he’s emerged as one of the best closers in baseball with the Angels this season and he’s excited to experience all that the All-Star Game offers for the first time.

“It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Estévez said. “I’ve been playing this game for so many years and a lot of us don’t get to make it. I’m going to enjoy it to the max.”

Estévez will join Ohtani in Seattle, as Trout said on Friday that he won’t attend the festivities in Seattle after undergoing wrist surgery on Wednesday. Ohtani will serve as the starting designated hitter, but won’t pitch because of a blister/fingernail issue on his right middle finger.

Trout said he’s happy for Estévez.

“He deserved it since Day 1,” Trout said. “He’s been our guy out of the bullpen. I don’t want to jinx him. But he’s been the guy. So I’m happy for him and excited for him and his family.”