Braves' quartet of López, Sale, Fried, Ozuna headed to ASG

July 7th, 2024

ATLANTA -- Four Braves are headed to Arlington for the 2024 MLB All-Star Game at the Rangers’ Globe Life Field.

Braves designated hitter and starting pitchers and were named to the National League All-Star team on July 7. Left-hander added as a replacement for the Phillies' on Saturday.

“It’s pretty cool,” manager Brian Snitker said. “All three of [the originally named selections] are awesome. We just had a [postgame] meeting. Other than Christmas, it’s kind of one of my favorite days of the year when I hand out All-Star invitations. It’s special. Going to an All-Star Game is an honor and a really special thing for the guys and their families.”

Ozuna (third career All-Star selection)
Ozuna is an All-Star for the first time since 2017. The veteran outfielder revitalized his career one month into the 2023 season and has since been one of the game’s most productive players.

He ranks among the top five NL players in home runs (23), RBIs (72) and OPS (.950). He now has the distinction of being the Braves' first designated hitter to earn an All-Star selection.

“For me, it’s amazing to bring my kids to [the All-Star Game] again,” Ozuna said. “They grew up a little bit and they’re big and they’ve learned about baseball. It’s a new experience for them.”

Sale (eighth All-Star selection)
Sale’s first All-Star nod since 2018 is a special one. Multiple injuries limited the left-hander to 151 innings from 2020-23, but the opportunity to work through a healthy offseason has helped the hurler regain his place among the game’s elite. His 11 wins are tied for the most in MLB. He also ranks among the NL’s top three in ERA (2.71) and strikeouts (127).

Sale's production has him in the mix to draw the honor of starting an All-Star Game for the first time since he served as the AL's starter three straight seasons from 2016-18. Unfortunately, Sale will likely pitch next weekend in San Diego, so he might be unavailable to pitch in the All-Star Game.

Injuries ended the dominance Sale displayed while finishing within the top six in balloting for the AL Cy Young Award in seven straight seasons from 2012-18. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2020 and battled both a rib fracture and right wrist fracture during the '22 campaign. He totaled just 11 starts from 2020-22.

“It’s definitely satisfying and I appreciate it, for sure,” Sale said. “You go through some years like I had, you start thinking if this is a real possibility again. To be able to be in this position, having a team take a chance on me, it wasn’t an easy trigger to pull -- I’m assuming -- just because of what it looked like previously. They gave me a chance and I’m happy to do this for them.”

López (first career All-Star selection)
Many questioned the Braves’ decision to have López transition from reliever to starter. But three months later, López owns an MLB-leading 1.71 ERA.

López was utilized as a starter until 2021, when the White Sox began transitioning him to a relief role. The 30-year-old hurler didn’t throw more than 66 innings in either of the past two seasons.

“I’m very proud and I give God thanks just for the way things have gone this season,” López said. “It’s kind of crazy when you stop and think about it. The last three years, [I was] pitching out of the bullpen. To come here and become a starter again and make the All-Star team -- this being my first invitation I’ve gotten -- it’s just crazy. I’m really happy.”

In Sunday’s 6-0 victory over the Phillies, López improved to 7-2 after striking out six over six scoreless innings.

Snitker had the option of notifying López of his All-Star selection prior to Sunday’s game, but the manager decided to wait until after.

“We had a little meeting afterward and I was really glad that he had a good feeling in that meeting and had the outing that he had,” Snitker said. “It just kind of made the day more special presenting him with the invitation.”

Ozuna and López, both natives of the Dominican Republic, have developed a friendship since López broke into the league in 2016. Eight years later, they’re not only Braves teammates, but now, NL All-Star teammates.

“He’s a good man,” Ozuna said of López. “Now that we are on the same team, he comes to my house and I go to his house. We have more confidence than before when we were on other teams. We’re [from] close to the same area in the Dominican Republic. I love him and I’m proud of him and what he’s done this year.

"Hopefully he continues doing his stuff and [wins] a Cy Young.”