PHOENIX -- For the first time in their history, the Rockies have had two players elected by fans as starters for the All-Star Game -- shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. In addition, outfielder Michael Cuddyer was elected as a reserve via player balloting.
All have been chosen to play for the National League on July 16 at Citi Field in New York. Barring anything unforeseen, Gonzalez and Cuddyer will play. Tulowitzki is nearing a return from the disabled list with a broken rib suffered June 13 and will play in the Midsummer Classic if he is able to return to regular-season play before then.
The elections of Tulowitzki, the runaway winner at the shortstop position, and Gonzalez, who was 10th among outfielders nearly a month ago but climbed into the top three, as well as the peer designation of Cuddyer, were announced Saturday during the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell.
Tulowitzki and Gonzalez are the first Rockies elected by fans since first baseman Todd Helton made the last of his three consecutive fan-voted starts in 2003. In player voting, Gonzalez led NL outfielders and Cuddyer was third, meaning he would have been chosen to start if strictly up to the players.
"That's neat, and what better way to have it than with 'CarGo,' one of my better friends, not only on the field but off the field, too," Tulowitzki said. "We're both going to enjoy that moment.
"Cuddy's very deserving, a professional. He sometimes doesn't get recognized. In this case, I'm glad he did."
Gonzalez said, "It's nice. I always knew that 'Tulo' and I could do special things, and that's one of the things I wanted to do, be in the lineup with Tulowitzki, one of the best players I've ever played with. It's a blessing.
"Hopefully he can play. If he doesn't, I'm sure that if we continue to play that way we will have a lot more years and a lot of opportunities."
Tulowitzki totaled 5,404,860 votes, easily outdistancing Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford's 3,036,479. Gonzalez's 4,214,904 votes from the fans were bested only by the Cardinals' Carlos Beltran with 6,786,9191.
But Gonzalez finished tops among NL outfielders on the player ballots with 554 votes, followed by Beltran with 441. Third was Cuddyer at 338, three more than the Phillies' Domonic Brown. Tulowitzki, already hurt at the time of player balloting, finished second with 309 votes. Brewers shortstop Jean Segura received 438 votes.
Cuddyer was touched by his showing in the peer election.
"That's extremely gratifying -- I almost get more gratification from that than anything else," Cuddyer said. "Those are the guys you play against and compete against every single day. To be recognized is really, really special."
Tulowitzki started the 2011 game at Chase Field, when Jose Reyes couldn't start because of injury, and Gonzalez was placed in the lineup last year as the designated hitter by manager Tony La Russa, but this is the first fan selection for each player. The only other time two Rockies were on the field at the start of the Midsummer Classic was 2001 in Seattle, when Helton was selected by the fans and outfielder Larry Walker was appointed by manager Bobby Valentine as the DH.
It's the third All-Star trip in four years for Tulowitzki, who was chosen to the team by players in 2010 but did not play because of an injury. Last year, Tulowitzki suffered a right groin injury that required surgery and limited him to 47 games. A long rehab, and a daily regimen of strength training, flexibility and massage to protect his legs paid off until Tulowitzki dove for a ground ball against the Nationals late in the June 13 game at Coors Field.
Before his injury, Tulowitzki had a .347 batting average and was vying for the NL lead in that category. His .635 slugging percentage led the league until his plate appearances per game dipped beneath the threshold to be eligible to be listed among the league leaders. He has 16 home runs and 51 RBIs.
"I'm definitely a fan of the game and appreciate the things that come along with hard work," Tulowitzki said. "It's always very satisfying to be recognized as one of the better players in the game."
It's the second trip in the last two years for Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, who missed Friday night's 5-0 loss the D-backs with a strained muscle in his back but returned Saturday night, leads the NL in homers (23), extra-base hits (50) and slugging (.605). He is also third in RBIs with 62.
Gonzalez thanked voters in his native Venezuela for giving him and other countrymen a push in online voting, and was proud that fans all over recognized his effort on the field.
"I always tell myself to just play the game like you want people to spend their money on a ticket to watch you play," Gonzalez said. "When you go out there, try to put on a good show for the fans. That's the reason we play this game and the reason we put food on the table. They pay everything."
Cuddyer, who had the Majors' longest hitting streak of the year at 27 games, represented the Twins for the American League in the '11 All-Star contest.
Cuddyer, who moved up one spot to cleanup when Tulowitzki was injured, is second in the NL in batting average (.342) and slugging percentage (.591), and has 17 doubles, 15 home runs and 52 RBIs. He ranks 10th in RBIs.
"It's really cool to represent both leagues in my career," Cuddyer said.
This is the first time since 2003 that the Rockies have had three players invited to the game. Helton was chosen by the fans as a starter for the game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. The last time a Rockies player was chosen by fans before Saturday, outfielder Preston Wilson was a reserve and pitcher Shawn Chacon was named to the squad, but he didn't participate because of injury.
"It's great that they're recognized as three of the better players in the National League, because that's what they are," said Bill Geivett, the Rockies' senior vice president of Major League operations. "It's not only their performance on the field, it's the type of people they are."
Tulowitzki and Gonzalez join Helton (2001-03), Walker (1997-99) and current Rockies hitting coach Dante Bichette (1996) as the only Rockies players to be chosen by fans as starters.
The three All-Stars are the Rockies' No. 3 (Gonzalez), No. 4 (Tulowitzki) and No. 5 (Cuddyer) hitters in their regular lineup.
"Any team would love having that in the middle of their lineup," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
The player not invited who had the best argument among the Rockies was lefty setup man Rex Brothers, who at one point had a scoreless streak of 32 innings. Brothers served as closer when Rafael Betancourt was nursing a right groin strain.
"I was hoping Rex would make the All-Star Game, to be honest," Weiss said. "I know it's tough as a reliever that's not a closer, but his numbers were so outrageous."
Weiss said it's possible Brothers could be invited as an injury replacement.
From Saturday to Thursday, July 11, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com for the final player for each League's All-Star roster.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday, July 16. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.