Deja blue: Cubs infield to start All-Star Game

Fowler earns nod in outfield; Arrieta, Lester on National League staff

July 5th, 2016

CHICAGO -- The National League All-Star infield will be all Cubs, as first baseman Anthony Rizzo, second baseman Ben Zobrist, shortstop Addison Russell and third baseman Kris Bryant earned trips to the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, along with teammates Dexter Fowler, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester.

Rizzo was the top vote-getter in the NL, and the infielders plus Fowler were chosen by the fans. Arrieta was voted in by the players, and Lester was named by Mets manager Terry Collins, who will manage the NL team.

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It's the first time since the 1985 Padres that one team has had five players selected to start the game. The only team to have all four starting infielders was the '63 Cardinals, which included first baseman Bill White, second baseman Julian Javier, third baseman Ken Boyer and shortstop Dick Groat.

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"It's pretty impressive because as a kid back then, I was blown away by that," Maddon said of the Cardinals team. "Any 9-year-old seeing this Cubs infield go, I'd like to believe they felt exactly as I felt in 1963."

Maddon, who managed the American League team in 2009, had some advice for the players when he met with them Tuesday to give them the news.

"Among all of them, I wanted them to realize -- especially the new guys -- to make sure you slow it down and enjoy every second of it," Maddon said. "'You're an All-Star right now, you earned this right to be there. Go play, but make sure you enjoy every second.'"

It will be Rizzo's and Zobrist's third trip to the All-Star Game, while Bryant will be making his second. It's the first time for Russell, Fowler and Arrieta.

"It's hard to put into words how cool the All-Star Game was last year," Bryant said. "Ken Griffey Jr. was walking through the clubhouse, and Pete Rose. I didn't know what to say. I'm in the Home Run Derby against Albert Pujols, and it was unbelievable. Having your teammates and friends there would be more special."

Rizzo is the first Cubs first baseman to lead the NL in fan voting since Derrek Lee did so in 2005.

"I think what that says is we have an incredible fan base that's in our corner," Zobrist said. "As players, we become the benefactors. ... We're glad we're Chicago Cubs now, and I think that's why a lot of players want to be here."

"The start we've had to the season has been a big reason why fans have noticed that," Zobrist said. "The assembly of players we have in here is an All-Star-caliber assembly. It's not surprising there's a lot of guys who had a shot to go."

Fowler is currently on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, and planned on getting back so he could participate in the All-Star Game. He's the first Cubs outfielder to win a fan election since Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano did so in 2008.

"Like I've said, I didn't know that many people knew who I was," Fowler said. "It's awesome they voted me in. I definitely thank them for it."

A two-time AL All-Star, Zobrist joined Glenn Beckert (1970-71) and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg (1984, 1986-93) as Cubs second basemen to be voted as starters by the fans.

At 22, Russell may be the youngest Cubs player selected.

"Ever since I was a little kid, I've always wanted to make an All-Star Game," Russell said. "Hopefully, it's the first of a few."

It will help having his teammates there to show him the ropes.

"It'll be really cool for him, being so young and so talented," Rizzo said of Russell. "To be around those players and that atmosphere. I'm sure he'll have a moment, just like I did, walking into the clubhouse seeing a guy he watched growing up and thinking, 'He's here.' I'm excited for him."

Rizzo couldn't wait for the pregame warmups.

"It'll be really cool starting the game and throwing to those guys there," Rizzo said.

Last year, Rizzo and Bryant represented the Cubs at the All-Star Game. In 2008, the Cubs sent eight players to the event, including Fukudome, Geovany Soto, Soriano and Aramis Ramirez, and pitchers Ryan Dempster, Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano.

Arrieta, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, will make his final start of the first half on Friday against the Pirates. He could start for the NL team if picked.

"It's up for grabs," Arrieta said. "I think there are several guys who are deserving of the honor to start the game, whether it's me or not. It's not a huge deal one way or the other. It'd be great to start and it'd be great to just pitch in the game and be part of the three days in San Diego. Whatever happens in that regard, either way they go, it'll still be a really good experience for all of us."

Fans can vote for the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote until 3 p.m. CT on Friday. The winners, as chosen exclusively by online fan voting totals, will be announced during a Final Vote-themed telecast of "MLB Now" featuring commentary from political analyst Jeff Greenfield, live on MLB Network and from 3-4 p.m. CT. MLB Network will provide extensive coverage across all of its studio programming during the Final Vote, including interviews with the candidates, frequent updates, heat maps indicating the cities where votes are being cast for each candidate, news on player and club campaigns and a running countdown clock leading up to the announcement.

Baseball fans have cast nearly 600 million online votes for Final Vote candidates since the program's inception in 2002. In addition to and the official club websites, fans can use their mobile devices to cast votes at or via text message. To receive the ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text their choice to 89269. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Message and data rates may apply. Text "STOP" to end and "HELP" for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Final Vote will include social balloting, as Twitter support for the 10 candidates over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their vote totals. From 9 a.m.-3 p.m. CT on Friday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners.

On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 87th All-Star Game, in San Diego, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 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