Semien to start ASG at home; Yates, Seager join him on AL roster

12:25 AM UTC

ARLINGTON -- The MLB All-Star Game needed more Texas. They got it.

After two Rangers were named as reserves to the American League roster -- second baseman and closer -- Semien was elevated to the starting lineup at second base on Thursday. Semien replaces Astros star Jose Altuve, who is missing the game to rest his sore left hand. (Minnesota's Willi Castro replaced Altuve on the active roster.)

Texas received a third representative on Sunday, when shortstop was named as a replacement for Minnesota's Carlos Correa.

Semien had been a finalist to start the Midsummer Classic, but was beaten out by Altuve in the fan vote.

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It is Semien’s third All-Star Game, and Yates’ second. Both were voted in by the players. The two will join manager Bruce Bochy and the Rangers’ entire coaching staff on the AL team coming off the first World Series championship in franchise history.

Since 2013, the only other Rangers position player to be selected for the All-Star Game in consecutive years is Corey Seager (2022-23). The only Texas pitcher to be selected in consecutive years in that span (since 2013) was Yu Darvish (2013-14). Semien joins those two after starting last year’s Midsummer Classic in Seattle.

He is one of just five Rangers second basemen ever selected for an All-Star Game: Dave Nelson (1973), Julio Franco (1989-91), Alfonso Soriano (2004-05) and Ian Kinsler (2008, 2010, 2012). He joins Franco (three), Soriano (two) and Kinsler (three) as Rangers with multiple selections at second base.

The veteran infielder hit .261/.327/.443 with 11 home runs across the first 64 games of the season through June 9, but has recently fallen into a weeks-long slump where he’s hit just .143 over the past 24 games. Even so, he leads MLB in Statcast’s outs above average (13) and ranks second in the AL in defensive runs saved (10) as one of the elite defenders in baseball.

“I’m on the American League All Star Team, I'm excited,” Semien said of his struggles this year. “I'm excited to be on the team. Like I said, it's always an honor. And if nobody feels I should be there, then I'm still gonna be here.”

Yates has been one of the best relievers in MLB this season. Entering Sunday’s slate of games, his 0.86 ERA was second among MLB relievers, while his .126 opponent batting average and .175 opponent slugging both led the league. He’s also a perfect 13/13 in save opportunities.

“Kirby, the numbers and what he’s done for us, it’s no question,” Bochy said Friday. “He’s had a tremendous first half. You look at the number of saves, sometimes that’s just about the opportunity. In the early part of the season, he wasn't the guy that was closing for us. He's just been nails since he's taken over that role.”

Yates signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Rangers this past offseason, hoping to build off a bounceback year he enjoyed with Atlanta in 2023. At age 37, he wanted to prove he can remain healthy and contribute to a big league club. He’s done all that and more.

“When you have under a one ERA, like you should be an All-Star, I don't care who you are,” said Michael Lorenzen. “He's been incredible. Just incredible.”

Yates is the first Texas relief pitcher selected since Joe Nathan in 2013 and the fifth different Rangers pitcher to make the team in the past five All-Star contests: Mike Minor (2019), Kyle Gibson (2021), Martín Pérez (2022) and Nathan Eovaldi (2023).

Yates said this selection is special because of what he’s gone through on the injury front over the last five years. In 2023, the right-hander had 80 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings for the Braves. But that came after he pitched just 11 1/3 innings from 2020-22 as injuries -- including Tommy John in ‘21 -- plagued him.

“I set up kind of a goal for this year,” Yates said. “One of my things was to try and push myself and get back to that level that I thought it could be. I think this gives it a little bit of validation that had been pretty good in the first half. Going through this once before, I know that the emotions don't really start hitting you until you get closer to the game… I am excited. I'm very, very proud of myself.”