Twins’ Luis Arraez, Byron Buxton named to all-star team for first time

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Luis Arraez wasn’t shy about his chances when asked about the All-Star Game last month.

“I think I need to be there,” he said.

Sunday, he got the word he was waiting for. In a team meeting Sunday, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli delivered the news that Arraez was named a first-time all-star and will be joined there by center fielder Byron Buxton, another first-time selection, marking a big honor for the two pillars who hit atop the Twins’ lineup.

The 2022 All-Star Game will take place on July 19 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and both Twins stars will be reserves as a result of the player balloting.

Buxton’s selection comes during a season in which the Twins have been closely managing the outfielder’s playing time in response to a persistent knee issue that he has been managing and playing through. Despite dealing with tendinitis, Buxton has been plenty productive when he has been on the field, pairing his Gold Glove defense with plenty of big moments at the plate, including last weekend’s walk-off home run against the Baltimore Orioles.

Last month, Buxton blew past his previous career high 19 home runs. Currently he has 23, including one in the Twins’ 6-5 win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday, which is tied for fifth in the majors as of Sunday evening.

“We’re a different team,” Baldelli said late last month. “Whatever we bring to the table, we bring more to the table when Byron Buxton is playing. Has he been out there every day? No, he has not been out there every day. But he’s out there a lot, and he has gotten a lot of at-bats. They’ve been really productive. He figures things out really quick. You see the adjustments he makes out there. Even when he’s not 100 percent, he’s a star.”

Buxton would likely have become an all-star for the first time last season if not for hip and hand injuries that forced him out of action for much of the season after being named April’s American League Player of the Month.

He was limited to just 61 games last season, a number he has already eclipsed even with rest days for the star, who signed a seven-year, $100-million extension during the offseason.

For Arraez, the recognition comes during a season in which he leads the majors with a .348 batting average and is second in the majors — first in the American League — with a .420 on-base percentage. His .869 OPS leads the Twins.

“It’s like he’s on fire all the time, and that’s not normal,” Baldelli said last month. “He’s difficult to pitch to. I mean, he can shoot a ball anywhere at any time on any pitch, and it seems like he’s ready for everything all the time.”

Arraez has recorded three four-hit games, six three-hit games and 32 multi-hit games this season, racking up 100 hits in his 78 games. His four home runs have matched a career high.

“The All-Star Game is a lot for me,” Arraez said last month. “I’m working hard for that. I want to make the All-Star Game and give that as a gift for my family.”

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