Arenado to represent Cardinals as All-Star Game starter

July 2nd, 2023

ST. LOUIS -- When went through one of the worst Aprils of his career, the superstar third baseman figured that his run of appearances in the MLB All-Star Game would almost assuredly come to an end.

However, when Arenado eventually broke through his early-season struggles and his production returned to its usual elite levels, it put him in position to make yet another MLB All-Star Game.

Arenado, 32, was named to his eighth All-Star Game on Thursday when he beat out Atlanta’s Austin Riley in fan voting for the starting slot at third base in the National League. He was named the starter for the fifth time in the past six All-Star Games. Arenado, a 10-time Gold Glover, six-time Platinum Glove recipient and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, made the NL All-Star team every year from 2015-19 and now has been named an All-Star all three seasons that he has played with the Cardinals.

“Making the All-Star team is always a pretty cool feeling, but this one feels a little different,” Arenado joked. “This one kind of feels like the first one when I made it, because I didn’t think I’d make it this year with the way I started. To come back and play a lot better, it makes this one mean a lot more.”

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said he never lost faith that Arenado would eventually turn things around and again hit like the All-Star performer he has been for much of his career.

“He had a tough April, and he’d admit that it was one of the toughest stretches of his career, but this is a guy that’s incredibly mentally strong and determined, and he understands how good he is,” Marmol said. “It was just a matter of time before he got going, but his last 60 days have been pretty darn good.”

Arenado, who vowed to attend the MLB All-Star Game even if he can’t play because of recurring pain in his lower back, will be the Cardinals’ lone representative in the Midsummer Classic as no other teammates were picked as reserves on Sunday.

Arenado crafted one of the best all-around seasons of his career in 2022, when he hit at least 30 home runs and drove in at least 103 runs for a seventh straight full season. He also won a Gold Glove and finished third in NL MVP voting, an award won by teammate Paul Goldschmidt.

This season, Arenado is slashing .278/.326/.490 with 16 home runs, 13 doubles, two triples and 54 RBIs. One of the stars on the USA squad that reached the World Baseball Classic final in March, Arenado hit just .231 with only two home runs in 27 games in April. But he has heated up with the weather in May and June.

One thing that could impact Arenado’s All-Star status: He left Wednesday night’s game with low-back stiffness. After being selected as an All-Star in 2022 to play at Dodger Stadium near his Southern California home, Arenado backed out of the game to rest his ailing back.

“Since the fans voted for me, I’m going to go, and I think it’s important for me to go,” Arenado said when asked if his injury could keep him out of this year’s contest. “That’s my goal right now -- to play in that game. …

“If I didn’t get the fan vote, I’d have to think about [skipping it], because my back has been hurting, but I want to go regardless this year. I think it’s important, and it’s something you shouldn’t skip. Last year was a good time to skip it with how I felt, but this year I’m going.”