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Aybar calls first All-Star selection 'great honor'

ARLINGTON -- Erick Aybar has a Rawlings Gold Glove, played for three consecutive Angels playoff clubs and starred for the Dominican Republic's 2013 World Baseball Classic champions.

Now the versatile shortstop is an American League All-Star for the first time -- complete with an ovation from his Angels teammates in the visitors' clubhouse at Globe Life Park on Thursday.

"It's a great honor," Aybar said, having learned of his selection by Boston manager John Farrell. "My kids [ages 6 and 7] can see me play in the game. I love that."

Aybar, selected to replace injured outfielder Alex Gordon of the Royals, and Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox will back up starting shortstop Derek Jeter. The Yankees' captain was selected by the fans to start the Midsummer Classic in his final season. Ramirez was chosen by the players.

"Everybody's happy about Erick," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Our team's really happy for him. We felt from the beginning he should be an All-Star. I don't think there's any question he's All-Star-worthy.

"There aren't many guys who can do all the things Erick can do. I think he's one of the top three shortstops in baseball."

Aybar's the first Angels shortstop to make the All-Star team since Gary DiSarcina in 1995. Aybar's 45 RBIs entering Thursday led all AL shortstops. He joins Ervin Santana, Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon as the Dominican Republic-born Angels players to make All-Star teams. He speaks with Guerrero, his early role model, frequently and said he'd be calling him soon.

Asked if this is the best of his nine seasons, Aybar said, "I don't know. I come here every day to learn more. Albert [Pujols] helps me a lot. He talks to me every day."

Aybar has been using one of Pujols' bats this season. It's an ounce heavier than his old ones.

"It's my lucky bat," Aybar said, grinning.

Lyle Spencer is a columnist for
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