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Indians standout Jason Kipnis still excited by getting hit in All-Star Game

By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer

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MINNEAPOLIS: What did Jason Kipnis do over the All-Star break? He got a haircut and, oh yes, he drove in the third run of the game with a double off Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves.

So it was a successful All-Star Game debut for the Indians’ second baseman, who did his damage to the National League in the eighth inning, with the American League already ahead 2-0.

“It was my first time, and I didn’t want to strike out or hit into a double play,’’ Kipnis said. “I just wanted to put the ball in play.’’

Kipnis didn’t really care that Kimbrel heats the atmosphere with 98 mile-per-hour fastballs, because he was pretty sure that one was coming.

“He started me with two curveballs,’’ Kipnis said. “I didn’t think he’d throw me a third one.’’

It was almost unthinkable that a pitcher who can generate as much velocity as Kimbrel would not show Kipnis his fastball in his first three pitches.

And fastball it was, Kipnis hitting it off the wall in left field.

After his pinch-hit double, he stayed in the game to play second and made the first play of the bottom of the eighth, throwing out Jean Segura, who slapped a ground ball to the right side.

Mariano Rivera pitched the eighth for the American League, and Kipnis was keenly aware that he did not want to ruin the inning for the prospective All-Star closer, who is planning to retire at season’s end.

“I’m not lying, I didn’t want the ball hit to me,’’ Kipnis said. “And the first guy hits it to me.’’

Kipnis also caught the last out of the game, a pop fly off the bat of Pedro Alvarez. Kipnis never thought about keeping the baseball, which eventually ended up in the hands of Rivera, who was named the game’s MVP.

“It’s hard not to be proud of Kipnis,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “He sent me a picture of him and [Dustin] Pedroia together.’’

Francona managed Pedroia at Boston.

Players from both teams chose to honor Rivera by standing in front of their dugouts between the top and bottom of the eighth inning and letting Rivera jog in from the bullpen as the only player on the field.

But Kipnis didn’t know about the plan.

“I almost went out there [to my position], then somebody tugged on my jersey,’’ he said. “I didn’t know.

‘‘But I thought it was pretty cool.’’

Sheldon Ocker can be reached at Read the Indians blog at Follow him on Twitter at and on Facebook at

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