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TTLE -- Amid a turbulent first half in which the Red Sox have dealt with injuries to several key players, the one constant force has been David Ortiz. So perhaps it was fitting that Big Papi is Boston's only All-Star this season.
Ortiz was voted in by the fans as the American League's starting designated hitter for the annual Midsummer Classic, which will take place on July 10 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Ortiz received 4,986,979 votes, the fifth highest total of any Major Leaguer.
"I'm excited," said Ortiz. "Thanks to the fans and everybody for voting me in. I'll just get ready to put on a good show for the fans."
Even at the age of 36, Ortiz has been putting on a good show for the Red Sox all season. He entered Sunday's game hitting .305 with an AL-leading 45 extra-base hits. The left-handed slugger is second in the league in OPS (1.006), doubles (24) and runs (57). He was third in total bases (173), slugging percentage (.613) and fourth in on-base percentage (.393).
Ortiz has belted 21 homers to go along with 53 RBIs.
This is the first time since 2001 that Boston has had just one All-Star.
"Well, yeah, I'm happy that we've had David," said manager Bobby Valentine. "David's played like an All-Star. He got selected to that team and maybe it's fitting he's the only All-Star, because he played so consistently well the entire time that he could get the notice -- get the spotlight."
For Ortiz, who is an All-Star for his eighth time in his 10 seasons with the Red Sox, going without any teammates will be strange.
"Like you say, we've been dealing with a lot of things for the year," Ortiz said. "Even those guys you mentioned who haven't been able to do what they normally do through the years. Those guys, they are dealing with injuries, too. It's hard. This is my first time going to the All-Star Game by myself. Hopefully it doesn't turn out boring. I always like to hang out with my boys."
Ortiz was one of 33 AL All-Stars announced on the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell.
The 83rd Major League Baseball 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. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
The Red Sox entered play on Sunday with a 41-37 record and were 6 1/2 games back in the AL East. Aside from the injuries, previous All-Stars like Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett have underperformed, leaving them home this season at the break.
"There were extenuating circumstances with Dustin, for sure," Valentine said, alluding to the second baseman's right thumb injury. "And Adrian is due to get hot. He's just, his timing has just been a little off this year. I'm looking forward to the consistent and superb player that he's been in the past. And [Jacoby Ellsbury], of course, didn't have a shot, did he? Carl [Crawford] didn't either."
The one Red Sox player who had a strong candidacy but didn't make it was catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has 15 homers and 37 RBIs while doing a nice job defensively.
"I hope he's proud of the way he's played and I hope he's ready to build on it," Valentine said. "He's played like an All-Star. That you don't get selected is just a numbers game. He's taken a step this first half and I hope he can continue to improve on that."
As for Ortiz, he just keeps chugging along. It's almost unfathomable now that early in the 2010 season there was speculation the Red Sox could release him.
Now he's hitting nearly as well as he did in his glory days.
Ortiz got in top physical shape last winter, mainly he said, due to health concerns rather than baseball. But it has helped his performance -- Ortiz doesn't dispute that. The DH estimates he dropped about 30 pounds.
"The work I did this offseason was for my personal health and my family background," Ortiz said. "Us as players, sometimes we wait too late to start doing things, because you think you don't have the time, and things can turn out pretty bad."
If the general public is surprised Ortiz is having a monster year, he isn't.
"In baseball, I really believe that the longer you prepare yourself to play, and you take care of yourself, and you have the ability to play the game, you're going to put up numbers," Ortiz said. "I'm not the first case, and I'm not going to be the last one. I feel great, and I take care of myself really good, so I can do what I'm doing. Sometimes I feel like I don't know how come there's always the doubt. If you play and you're healthy and you take care of yourself, the numbers are going to be there. It is what it is."
For the first time in recent memory, Ortiz will be only a spectator at the Home Run Derby.
"I got worn out last year," Ortiz said. "I got so tired, and I think it caught up with me later on during the season. I ran out of gas. It was the first time I feel like I was really tired. I guess age is catching up with Papi. I just need to save my energy for the second half now."