HOUSTON -- Reigning American League Most Valuable Player Jose Altuve, who received more fan votes than any other player on the ballot, headlines the six Astros players who will join manager AJ Hinch and his coaching staff at the MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard in Washington, D.C.
Altuve will be joined by third baseman Alex Bregman and outfielder George Springer, both of whom made the squad via the player ballot, and right-hander pitchers Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, who were named via a combination of the player ballot and the Office of the Commissioner. Charlie Morton was added as an injury replacement.
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"I'm very proud of these guys, and I'm also proud of the number of guys who hopefully we can squeeze in if they need any sort of replacements," said Hinch, who earned the right to manage the AL by reaching the World Series last year. "To have this many guys on the team is great. I thanked them earlier today for what we did as a team last year to allow me and the coaching staff to go, but I can't say enough about the quality of this group that's going and some of the guys that have had All-Star-caliber first halves that didn't make it. The list could have gone even deeper."
Altuve will be just the second Astros player to start four All-Star Games, joining Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who started four in a row for the NL squad from 1995-98 (all at second base).
This marks the third time the Astros have had five or more All-Stars on one squad. They had a club-record six All-Stars in 2017 and five in 1994. Houston's five All-Stars in 2018 are tied for tops among all AL clubs with the Red Sox and Indians.
"I thank God for the opportunity to be in another All-Star Game," Altuve said. "As a player, it never gets old. This one is kind of special because we have a couple of more guys I'm really proud of in here. Every single guy here in this clubhouse, if I could pick the team, I would pick these 25 guys because they're playing really good."
Hinch gathered his players in the clubhouse before Sunday's game against the White Sox and announced the All-Stars, waiting until the end to announce Bregman. Springer said Bregman's face was "beet red."
"I got my hands on the list this morning, with our guys and including everybody else," Hinch said. "I already promised Bregman that I'd play him. He's going to get to play because of this morning's activities, and he was a good sport."
On Tuesday, July 17, while watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans can submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote.
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Bregman, who was the AL Player of the Month for June, is the sole first-time All-Star for the Astros this year. He hit 11 homers and tallied 30 RBIs in the month to solidify his place on the team as a backup to the Indians' Jose Ramirez.
"Every year during the offseason, you have goals in mind, and this is one of them," Bregman said. "I think you kind of dream of doing stuff like this as a kid, and it definitely was a dream of mine, and I wanted to accomplish it at this level. It's special, and I'm very fortunate to play on a team with this caliber of teammates and guys that have really helped every step of the way."
Both Cole (2015) and Springer (2017) will be making their second appearances in the Midsummer Classic. Springer started for the AL last year.
"It's fun. It's an honor. I'm humbled by it," Springer said. "You don't get here without the help of a lot of people. For my teammates to drive me in or pick me up is something special to me. I'm going to enjoy this again with a quality group of guys, especially getting a chance to represent the organization."
Cole made the '15 team in the National League as a member of the Pirates.
"It's a tremendous honor," he said. "As a pitcher, you get afforded the opportunity to get voted in by your peers, and that always carries significant weight. To be selected is really special, and a lot of credit goes to my teammates and the organization for obviously bringing me here and providing me with this opportunity."
This will be the seventh time Verlander has been named an All-Star, and his first time as a member of the Astros. Prior to this season, he was an All-Star in 2007 and from 2009-13. He won't pitch in this year's game because he's scheduled to start for the Astros the Sunday prior to the All-Star Game.
"I'm really excited," Verlander said. "It's something that I've never taken from granted and even more so now where I'm at in my career. All the way back to my rookie year, when I thought I had a chance to make it -- I remember being pretty disappointed when I didn't -- to now, where it's been a few years since I've gone to my last one. I think all of those things make me appreciate how fun and important it is to be acknowledged by your peers to go and represent Major League Baseball at its highest level."
Hinch will become just the second skipper in franchise history to manage an All-Star Game, joining Phil Garner, who guided the 2006 NL All-Star team in Pittsburgh. Hinch will be joined by his entire 2018 coaching staff, as well as Rich Dauer, who served as the Astros' first-base coach from 2015-17 before retiring. He also named Rays manager Kevin Cash to his coaching staff Sunday.
"I think he and the coaching staff deserve to be there because, you know, what we did last year," Altuve said. "I know they're going to have a good time, and so will we. Looking forward to going there."