Huston Street, the former national champion at Texas and current closer for the San Diego Padres, received his first All-Star nomination Sunday while in Denver for a series against the Rockies.
Many felt that third baseman Chase Headley deserved to be the lone representative from the Padres, but with Giants fans stuffing the ballot box and getting Pablo Sandoval into the starting lineup, David Wright was chosen as the backup third baseman -- though, with a .354 batting average and 50 RBIs, he is a candidate for National League MVP -- and there was suddenly no place for Headley.
Street entered the day with 11 saves, and ended it with 12. He has only pitched 21 innings, but this was, as much as anything, a recognition of Street's career. He's 10th among active pitchers with 190 career saves, and finished in the top-10 in the category in his division in 2006 and '09. He won the American League Rookie of the Year award in '05. He's only played on two postseason squads, though, so he flies under the radar.
Anyways, here's how it went down (Note: I was covering the Padres for MLB.com this past weekend. What timing!):
With trade rumors swirling -- the Mets have called about Street -- I wasn't quite sure what to think when I saw the closer being called into manager Bud Black's office early Sunday.
Then Street came out with a puzzled look on his face, cup of coffee in his right hand, and the media relations guy began waving us over and whispering closely (here's where he's telling me Huston Street just got traded, I thought) and instead I heard the words: "Huston Street just got...
"Selected to his first All-Star game. Don't tweet it yet."
OK, so the secret had to be kept for the next 10 minutes or so. Some of the Padres gathered in front of the selection show on TBS and began watching. With a cellar status in the National League West, they knew there'd only be one of them chosen.
Street stood at his locker, keeping the secret to himself. When a holographic image of himself appeared on the TV screen, his teammates erupted. Shouted Mark Kotsay, "How long have you f***** known?!?"
Embarrassed, Street accepted hugs from his teammates, then expressed how much of an honor -- an unexpected honor -- it was to a very small pack of reporters.
"It's the Midsummers Classic, I grew up watching it. It's overwhelming -- I don't think it's sunk in yet."
Former Rockies teammate Matt Belisle, also a native of Austin, left a yellow note on Street's locker congratulating him. Street pitched for the Rockies for three seasons, amassing 84 saves. He was dealt to San Diego in the offseason, a salary-dump trade from which he harbors no ill will. It's been a tough year for the Padres (30-50), who haven't given Street much of an opportunity to save games. A stint on the 15-day disabled list didn't help, either. Since returning on June 5, Street has eight saves and one win.
"Every year, you're realistic about [his All-Star chances]," Street said. "You know when you have a shot and when you don't. I've had a few years where I thought, 'Maybe this was the year.'"
It never was, not until yesterday.
"I told Huston this is deserving, even though he might not have the save totals of other guys, that his career has been indicative of All-Star work," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "There's been seasons where at this point I'm sure he's been in very strong consideration, and to never have been picked is surprising."