ST. LOUIS - As the National League champions in 2013, St. Louis Cardinals’ skipper Mike Matheny will be managing the 2014 All Star Game in Minneapolis. The Cardinals’ skipper will have four of his players on the 2014 All Star Game roster. The Cardinals had one player chosen as an All Star starter by the fans and three players elected via the manager’s selection.
“To me, this is an opportunity to honor the guys who stood out,” Matheny said.
The obvious selection is Yadier Molina. The Cardinals’ catcher will be heading to his sixth consecutive All Star Game after being chosen by the fans to start the game behind the dish. Molina has been named to every All Star game since 2009. However, he did not play in the 2012 game because he was on the bereavement list. For his career, Molina is hitting .500 (3-for-6) during All Star play with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Molina had his three-game All Star hitting streak snapped last year.
 For the 2014 season, Molina is hitting .289 with seven home runs and 30 runs batted in and 30 runs scored. He is also sixth on the Cardinals in doubles with 15.
Also making the All Star team was starting pitcher Adam Wainwright. The selection is the second straight and third overall for the Cardinals’ ace. Wainwright was also named to the 2010 All Star team.
“This is my third nomination,” Wainwright said. “Each time has been different and each time has been cool all the same. Even if you feel like you are going to be on the team, it is always great to hear that you made it. When the players vote you in, that means a lot.”
Last year Wainwright did not pitch in the All Star game because he started on the Sunday before the game. This year, Wainwright is currently on schedule to Saturday and thus should be available for action. In 2010, Wainwright pitched one inning and allowed one hit and a walk. He also struck out two batters.
This year, Wainwright is tied for the National League lead with 11 wins and leading the NL with a 1.79 ERA. Wainwright has struck out 111 hitters while walking 27 over 131 innings of work through Monday’s game.
Matheny said he won’t name his starting pitcher until Monday, the day before the All Star Game, but with the Cardinals’ ace having a stellar year and Molina starting the game behind the plate, Wainwright would love nothing more than to be selected as the starting pitcher.
“That is obviously something every starter dreams to do,” Wainwright said. “Last year I remember I was pitching the day before the All Star break and I told Mike, if it was any consolation, that unless I was starting, don’t even think about moving my start around. … It is something that every starter would take tremendous pride in. It would be really cool.”
“There is some thought to that,” Matheny said of having teammates Wainwright and Molina as the starting battery. ”I won’t be able to until Monday, the day before the game. A week from tomorrow. So I am going to have to answer this question a hundred different ways between now and then.”
Making his second appearance on the All Star roster will be Matt Carpenter. The Cardinals’ third baseman will be playing a different position in the All Star Game this year. Named as a reserve last year, Carpenter made the team as a second baseman. This year, again named as a reserve, Carpenter will be on the team as a third baseman.
Matheny said the versatility Carpenter offers was a big factor in his selection as a manager’s pick.
“It does,” Matheny said. “It does play in. Being able to play two spots on the infield and possibly a third spot in the infield and also in the outfield.”
In his one All Star appearance last year, Carpenter had two at bats, striking out once. Carpenter is currently batting .282 with four home runs and 32 runs batted in. He is second on the Cardinals with 22 doubles and leads the team in hits with 96.
The Cardinals’ final All Star selection is relief pitcher Pat Neshek who came to St. Louis as a minor league free agent after not being retained by the Oakland A’s. Neshek signed a contract and came to spring training as a non-roster player. That means not only was he fighting for a job against the regular 25-man roster player on the Cardinals, but he was also battling those on the 40-man roster.
“He should be proud of himself,” Matheny said. “The opportunity to walk in here and have to make the team, nothing guaranteed. He comes in here and earns a spot and continues to build confidence of everyone around here.”
Neshek will be making his first appearance on the All Star roster. The right-hander has played a big role in the bullpen this year. In 36 innings of work over 41 games, Neshek is sporting a 0.75 ERA with a 2-0 record. He has struck out 36 batters while allowing just 16 hits and walking only four batters.
“It was kind of a surprise,” Neshek said of being named to the All Star team. “I kind of thought there was a chance, but baseball doesn’t really make a spot for set-up guys. I knew the reality and thought it would probably come down to the final five (fan) vote again.
“It’s awesome to be rewarded like that,” Neshek continued. “To get a chance to play against the best.”
For Neshek, being named to this year’s All Star team has even more meaning than to most others. Not only did Neshek begin his career with the Minnesota Twins, but he hails from Minnesota. So he will be making his All Star debut in front of friends and family.
“I moved out of there to Florida now,” Neshek said. “I have been there since I was 4-years old. I went to high school there. … It is going to be really neat. I know the fans up there and have a special place for them.”
Of course, one of those family members will be on the field with him. Neshek’s brother is a member of the Minnesota Twins grounds crew and will be working to prepare the field that his brother will be pitching on.
“He is going to do something for the home run derby,” Neshek said. “He was thinking about taking a different job last year, but he knew the All Star Game was going to be there this year and he decided to stay on another year. He is going to be there and I am sure I will see a lot of him on the field.”
Matheny knows there is going to be objections, gripes and complaints about who made the team and who did not.
“There is a number of guys who have deserving numbers and are having incredible seasons,” Matheny said. “I will tell you that I believe (Marlins third baseman) Casey McGehee has had an incredible season so far. I was fortunate enough to be able to talk to him this morning and tell him that. It is something that he should be proud of and it’s a shame that we can’t have an unlimited roster, or at least a larger one to include everybody that is deserving. He is absolutely on that list.”