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Morton named to AL All-Star Game roster

Selection is first in career for righty; Astros are only team with six players on Junior Circuit squad
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- Astros manager AJ Hinch knew veteran pitcher Charlie Morton would be up early Friday morning because he has three kids and is a big fan of a good breakfast. That was a good thing, because Hinch couldn't wait to deliver the news Major League Baseball had just delivered to him.

Morton was going to the All-Star Game for the first time in his career.

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HOUSTON -- Astros manager AJ Hinch knew veteran pitcher Charlie Morton would be up early Friday morning because he has three kids and is a big fan of a good breakfast. That was a good thing, because Hinch couldn't wait to deliver the news Major League Baseball had just delivered to him.

Morton was going to the All-Star Game for the first time in his career.

View Full Game Coverage

:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::

The 11-year veteran was added to the American League All-Star team Friday as an injury replacement, giving the Astros a club-record-tying six All-Stars. He'll joined fellow starting pitchers Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, second baseman Jose Altuve, third baseman Alex Bregman and outfielder George Springer at the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard on Tuesday in Washington.

"I thought it had already been decided and I thought there were some names out there that were deserving," Morton said. "When AJ told me, I was surprised. I was really excited."

Hinch said Morton was "shocked" and was more concerned about who else was getting snubbed, how teammate Collin McHugh couldn't make it and the mechanics behind his addition to the AL squad. Morton will replace Aroldis Chapman of the Yankees, and Rays lefty Blake Snell was added to replace Corey Kluber of the Indians.

"The guy is tremendous at pitching, but he's a tremendous human," said Hinch, who will manage the AL club. "I'm very proud of him."

Video: The Rundown: McTaggart on Morton to the All-Star Game

Morton, 34, is having a career year, going 11-2 with a 2.96 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 19 starts. Among all AL pitchers this season, the right-hander ranks second in winning percentage (.846), third in strikeouts per nine innings (11.70), tied for fourth in wins, sixth in strikeouts and ninth in ERA.

The All-Star Game is quite an accomplishment for Morton, whose career was once defined more by his injuries than what he did on the mound. When his 2016 season was cut short by an injury after only four games with the Phillies, he wondered if he'd get another contract. The Astros took a chance, signing him to an eye-opening two-year, $14-million deal and watched Morton go 14-7 last year. He recorded the final out of the club's World Series win over the Dodgers.

"This is probably the best I've pitched, and it could be the best I'll ever pitch," Morton said. "That could have been my one shot this year. I think that's where the disappointment came in when I found out I didn't make the team initially. It wasn't that I didn't make the team or I felt like I should have been there or anything like that. It was more like the clock is ticking. So for him to call me and give me that news, it was exciting for me, because now it's something for myself and my career I can look back and I can say that I was an All-Star."

Video: HOU@TB: Morton punches out 11 in pitchers' duel

Morton and his family were planning to be in the Washington area next week to check out the area. He said the family plans to move there when his playing career is over. Morton said his wife, Cindy, was OK with the unexpected change of plans.

"She's always been really supportive," he said. "I know logically it will work out and the whole plan is to be together in the first place."

While watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX on Tuesday, 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.

The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.

For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Charlie Morton