Bieber, Ramírez selected to All-Star team

Francona invited to be part of AL coaching staff

July 4th, 2021

CLEVELAND -- The Indians’ two biggest stars will be representing their club at the 2021 All-Star Game in Denver, even if they’re both battling through some injuries right now.

It was announced on Sunday afternoon that starter Shane Bieber and third baseman José Ramírez were both selected as reserves for this year’s Midsummer Classic at Coors Field. And thanks to an invitation from American League manager Kevin Cash, Indians skipper Terry Francona will be a part of the AL coaching staff.

“I think it's well deserved,” Francona said of his players’ selections. “I know Bieber has been hurt, but I think that just goes to show the reputation he has and what he had done up to that point. José's been so important to us, just everything -- his numbers, the way he plays the game, his attitude. I'm really happy for both guys.”

Two years ago, around this time, Bieber was a young starter just beginning to make a name for himself on the big league stage. He was not originally picked as an All-Star but was a last-minute addition when he replaced an injured starter on the roster just days before the event. This time, he won’t have the chance to take home a second consecutive All-Star Game MVP title because he’s on the injured list with a right shoulder strain, but he’ll still have an opportunity to sit back and enjoy the festivities.

“It’s definitely different than the first time,” Bieber said with a grin. “While it was super fun and I’d like to defend the title, I guess technically, I held it for two years because there wasn’t an All-Star Game last year. But regardless, when Tito told me today, I was pretty surprised. I didn’t necessarily expect it, not playing right now. But I think that’s kind of what makes it mean so much more for me.”

Bieber went on the injured list on June 14, but entering Sunday, he still led the American League in strikeouts (130) despite not having pitched in nearly a month. He owned a 3.28 ERA through 14 starts, averaging 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

“That's why we miss him. He's one of the best in the game,” Francona said. “At an early age, he has got that reputation and like I said, it's well deserved. He's earned it. You don't see too many pitchers at that age that are that reliable. And the people around the league also know that.”

Ramírez played in each of Cleveland’s first 75 games before missing four of the last five contests after fouling a ball off his face on Wednesday and then injuring his elbow while diving for a ball on Thursday. But that doesn’t take away from what he’s done so far this season and, most importantly, how important he’s been to this team.

Ramírez leads the club in home runs (18), RBIs (50), runs scored (54), on-base percentage (.345), slugging percentage (.537), doubles (18) and OPS (.882). Entering Sunday, his 2.8 fWAR was tied for 16th highest in the Majors. He originally placed fourth in the All-Star fan vote, receiving 471,097 votes, trailing Rafael Devers, Alex Bregman and Yoán Moncada.

“I can’t wait to watch him take BP at that field,” Bieber said of Ramírez. “I’ve never been [to Denver] before, so I’ve only heard the stories and the legends. So, I’m excited to see him play and show off his skillset throughout the few days there. It’s just nice and comforting to be able to have him.”

This will mark Bieber’s second All-Star appearance and Ramírez’s third. Ramírez still hasn’t been cleared to get back in the Indians’ lineup but will hope to be back in action before next week’s festivities. But based on his past experience, Bieber knows that this event will still be enjoyable, even if he can’t partake.

“I just think about the whole few days,” Bieber said. “Just meeting all the guys, having it be in our home clubhouse, developing relationships and connections, that’s another thing I look forward to doing this year.”