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Upton happy to join Fulmer at All-Star Game

Tigers teammate pitching Sunday, won't appear in Midsummer Classic
MLB.com @beckjason

CLEVELAND -- Justin Upton is an All-Star after all. The Tigers' left fielder was added to the American League roster on Friday, his reward for a quietly strong first half in the middle of Detroit's lineup.

Upton essentially replaces fellow Tiger Michael Fulmer, who was named to the AL All-Star team Sunday. Fulmer will take part in festivities in Miami, but since he's slated to pitch Sunday night against the Indians, he won't be on the active roster to pitch in the 88th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX). Upton's addition ensures the Tigers will have somebody on the AL roster who could play.

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CLEVELAND -- Justin Upton is an All-Star after all. The Tigers' left fielder was added to the American League roster on Friday, his reward for a quietly strong first half in the middle of Detroit's lineup.

Upton essentially replaces fellow Tiger Michael Fulmer, who was named to the AL All-Star team Sunday. Fulmer will take part in festivities in Miami, but since he's slated to pitch Sunday night against the Indians, he won't be on the active roster to pitch in the 88th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX). Upton's addition ensures the Tigers will have somebody on the AL roster who could play.

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"It's always great from the fans and players and coaches around the league that see you," Upton said. "A lot of guys are playing well, having good first halves, and not everybody can be an All-Star."

The Tigers saw Upton as an All-Star talent when they signed him as a free agent a year and a half ago. He made the National League All-Star squads in 2009, '11 and '15, but a rough first half in Detroit last year left him out of consideration. Upton heated up in time for the stretch run and nearly lifted the Tigers into the postseason.

Upton's second season in Detroit has been more consistent. He entered Friday leading the Tigers with 21 doubles, 15 home runs and 54 RBIs while sharing the team lead with six stolen bases. Upton is batting .271 with an .864 OPS.

Video: KC@DET: Upton makes the catch while falling down

"I know he's replacing somebody," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, "but I thought Justin Upton was a deserving All-Star."

Fulmer was hoping to face a batter or two in the Midsummer Classic despite a big start Sunday night opposite Corey Kluber. All-Star pitchers who work Sunday usually are deactivated for the All-Star Game -- it used to be a rule -- but Detroit manager Brad Ausmus was open to the idea. The Tigers put a limit of 15 pitches on Fulmer, but Major League Baseball -- wary of a scenario in which an All-Star manager runs out of available pitchers or has to stretch another pitcher longer in return -- said it would prefer to have pitchers available for a full inning.

"We gave them a pitch count, and after discussing it, they didn't want to box the [All-Star] manager into a corner," said Ausmus, who said he discussed it with MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre.

Fulmer understood the decision.

"I get a buddy now," said Fulmer, noting he now a teammate joining him in All-Star festivities.

Video: SF@DET: Fulmer fans five over eight strong innings

Fulmer skipped an extra day of rest to get two starts for the Tigers this week, hoping to help Detroit carry some momentum into the break. Had he pitched Wednesday in the previous rotation order, appearing in the All-Star Game wouldn't have been an issue. But Fulmer offered to swap spots with Daniel Norris to help out the club -- a decision that was made before the All-Star rosters were announced Sunday.

Fulmer does not regret that move, saying winning games for the Tigers is the priority. The bright side, he said, was that it allows him to pitch early of the All-Star break. Ausmus said Fulmer will likely start next Saturday against the Blue Jays at Comerica Park.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Justin Upton