The last time the Pittsburgh Pirates had five All-Stars, there was no designated hitter, baseballs were made of horsehide and the major leagues had 24 teams.
That was 1972, when Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Steve Blass, Al Oliver and Manny Sanguillen represented the defending World Series champions at the National League’s 4-3, 10-inning win in Atlanta.
With the addition of reliever Mark Melancon as an injury replacement Sunday, the Steel City has a fab five once again. Seeking to end a record streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons, the Pirates are 56-37 at the All-Star break and contending for the NL Central lead.
Once viewed by the Yankees as Mariano Rivera’s possible successor, Melancon was traded by New York, Houston and Boston in a span of 2½ years. Now he joins third baseman Pedro Alvarez, center fielder Andrew McCutchen and closer Jason Grilli on the NL roster.
Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke, Washington Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann and Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, all on the original NL All-Star squad, are hurt and will miss Tuesday night’s game at Citi Field.
NL manager Bruce Bochy also selected Sergio Romo, his San Francisco Giants closer, as a replacement pick along with Atlanta catcher Brian McCann. St. Louis closer Edward Mujica was chosen to fill in for teammate Adam Wainwright, who started Sunday night.
Under baseball’s labor contract, pitchers who start on the Sunday before the All-Star Game may opt not to participate.
Despite all the changes, Yasiel Puig was left out again. The rookie sensation from the Los Angeles Dodgers, beaten out by Freeman in fan balloting online for the NL’s final spot, didn’t start for the second straight day Sunday because of a sore left hip, though he singled as a pinch hitter in the fifth inning.
Baltimore pitcher Chris Tillman, Kansas City closer Greg Holland and Oakland closer Grant Balfour were chosen by AL manager Jim Leyland of Detroit to replace Tigers ace Justin Verlander, Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma and Oakland’s Bartolo Colon, who all started Sunday. Verlander was the AL starter and loser in last year’s All-Star Game at Kansas City.
Around the bases
Mike Piazza will be inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame during Fan Appreciation Day at Citi Field on Sept. 29. …Alex Rodriguez had a run-scoring double and two RBI for Class A Tampa, his first extra-base hit during a minor-league rehabilitation assignment. … The Detroit Tigers have agreed to a minor-league deal with right-hander Jeremy Bonderman, who pitched for the team from 2003-10. …The Boston Red Sox recalled left-hander Drake Britton from Triple-A Pawtucket and optioned outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to the minor-league team. … The Philadelphia Phillies placed outfielder Ben Revere on the 15-day disabled list, one day after he broke his right foot by fouling a ball off of it, and activated catcher Erik Kratz from the DL.