SAN DIEGO -- Every ballplayer wants to be an All-Star, Thomas Stripling included, but he didn't realize how much until Sunday in Anaheim, when Player Page for Max Muncy was poring over an All-Star information sheet, one of the administrative necessities of the Final Vote process."Disappointed was not the right
SAN DIEGO -- Every ballplayer wants to be an All-Star, Thomas Stripling included, but he didn't realize how much until Sunday in Anaheim, when Player Page for Max Muncy was poring over an All-Star information sheet, one of the administrative necessities of the Final Vote process.
"Disappointed was not the right word, because I did fine, but I wanted it. Muncy's over there filling it out and I'm like, I want to be there," said Stripling, who finally received the first All-Star berth of his career on Wednesday, when he was added to the National League squad for this year's All-Star Game in Washington, D.C.
Stripling replaces the Cardinals' Miles Mikolas, who is pitching on Sunday and will be unavailable for Tuesday's Midsummer Classic.
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Stripling has been a breakout star of the Dodgers pitching staff over the first half of the season. The 28-year-old is 7-2 with a 2.22 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 89 1/3 innings.
After opening the season in the bullpen, Stripling moved into Los Angeles' starting rotation after it was hit hard by injuries. He's been a major reason why the Dodgers have stayed in contention in the NL West even as key starting pitchers like ace Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill spent multiple stints on the disabled list.
Stripling joins a pair of his Dodgers teammates on the NL All-Star team -- outfielder Matt Kemp and closer Kenley Jansen -- with the team also managed by Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts.
Stripling said he got in "through the back door" as a replacement, but he's not complaining.
"The disappointment would have been, who knows how long I'll play, who knows if I'd make another team?" he said. "When you look at the [original] roster, who doesn't deserve to be there? They all deserve to be there. I'm kind of coming in the back door. It'll be fun. Glad I made it. I'm not disappointed didn't make the first team."
He is proud, however, considering his path.
"From where I started, coming off TJ [Tommy John] surgery, making the team in '16, and finding my way into the bullpen and starting this season in the bullpen and guys go down and just being someone the team can count on to take the ball every fifth day," he said. "To be an All-Star midway through is special and something I'll remember forever."
And he planned to begin his homework during batting practice on Wednesday.
"I'm about to pepper [seven-time All-Star Clayton] Kershaw and Alex [Wood, an All-Star last year] in the outfield on what to expect, what to wear, things like that," Stripling said.
Kemp was voted by fans onto the starting lineup as one of three outfielders for the NL. It will be his third All-Star appearance, but first since 2012 in a Comeback Player of the Year Award-caliber season after his reacquisition in an offseason trade with Atlanta that was largely seen as a salary swap.
"For Matt to come back to Los Angeles and be voted in by the fans, I don't think he'll let on how much this means to him, but it's well deserved," said Roberts.
Jansen will be making his third consecutive All-Star appearance despite a rocky start to the season after management instituted a casual Spring Training in response to last year's heavy workload. Jansen was voted in by his peers.
"It feels more special than the first two. Those I pretty much knew I'd be an All-Star, but this one, very slow April, I took all the criticism and put it on my shoulder and motivated me," said Jansen. "This is special, to hear the players voted for you. I turned my season around, and it means a lot."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.