Keuchel, Hinch make case for Altuve
HOUSTON -- George Springer stopped the media surrounding his locker from asking their questions on Monday, first making sure to don his orange "Yes Way, Jose!" shirt in support of teammate Jose Altuve, who trails Omar Infante by 231,708 votes in the race to start the All-Star Game at second base after the latest results were unveiled Monday.
"Here's the thing, vote Altuve," Springer said, pointing to his shirt. "We need him in the All-Star Game. It's awesome. It shows the team is pulling for each other and I think we all know he deserves it."
Altuve cut his deficit in half after trailing by 435,540 votes last week, and though the reigning American League batting champ said he appreciates the fans voting for him, he maintained his focus was strictly on finishing the first half of the season consistently.
"Everything that your fans do for you is going to be good," Altuve said. "Really happy for that and that's why I'm really focused on going out and winning games because that's for them. We're playing hard and we stay in first place for the fans to make the fans happy."
After lobbying for his teammate to be the starter, Houston ace Dallas Keuchel said players deserve more say on who starts the game.
He pointed to the Astros' opponent for the next three days -- the Royals -- who have players leading at five positions.
"Not to knock the Royals or anything, cause they're a great ballclub and deserve recognition for what they've done, but there shouldn't be seven guys starting the game from one team," Keuchel added. "If that were the case, that should be the best team ever assembled. Although they're a great team, they shouldn't have seven starters. Maybe seven All-Stars, but not seven starters."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on their computers, tablets and smartphones -- using the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET. For the first time, voting is exclusively online, where fans may submit up to 35 ballots.
Altuve said he grew up looking up to Infante, a fellow Venezuelan, and called him one of the best position players ever from the country.
When asked if he agreed with the way starters were selected, Altuve simply responded: "That's the way it is."
Houston manager A.J. Hinch, who is on Ned Yost's AL coaching staff, likes the idea of incorporating fans into the process, but also maintained there needs to be some sort of overseeing for a game that has meaning when the postseason comes around.
"There are a few instances where a trump card's probably needed, where you can get a guy who's playing at an extreme high level, but maybe not the most popular player around that deserves the reward so to speak," Hinch said. "Given that it factors into postseason play and home field advantage, you want the best player there, so it's got to be a governing body above all of this to make the right decisions."
Hinch said he'll converse with Yost through the series about which Astros he hopes Yost will take notice of in making selections for the team and to reassure Yost he could trust Keuchel to start the game, should the Royals skipper make that decision.
Keuchel starts Tuesday's game against the Royals at 7:10 p.m. CT at Minute Maid Park.
"I hope he throws a shutout at 'em and states his own case," Hinch said.