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Braves' McCann named NL All-Star starting catcher

The Associated Press <br> Atlanta Braves' Brian McCann hits a walk off two-run home run in the 11th inning against the Houston Astros on Tuesday in Atlanta.

The Associated Press
Atlanta Braves' Brian McCann hits a walk off two-run home run in the 11th inning against the Houston Astros on Tuesday in Atlanta.

ATLANTA -- It took six seasons, but Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann will finally start in an All-Star game.

After being picked as a reserve in five previous seasons and being named last year's All-Star MVP, the Duluth High School grad will be behind the plate July 12 for the first pitch in Arizona. He has been a clutch hitter for the Braves during a stretch of injuries in the lineup, batting .311 with 14 homers and 47 RBIs.

"It will be new for me. You always want to shoot to start the game and now I'll finally have the chance to do that," he said Sunday, after a 5-4 loss to Baltimore at home.

He'll be joined by Braves teammates Chipper Jones, Jonny Venters and Jair Jurrjens.

Jurrjens, who shares the NL lead with 11 wins and leads the major leagues in ERA, is a possible candidate to start the game in Phoenix. Venters has four wins and a 1.59 ERA.

Jones was selected as an NL reserve for his seventh All-Star selection and his first since 2008. He's hitting .256 and said he was "shocked" to be voted by his peers. He said he was told of the vote by manager Fredi Gonzalez.

"Fredi called me into his office and told me and I was like, 'OK, where's the hidden camera?'" Jones said.

"To have the respect of your peers, that's awfully flattering. I'd best keep up my end of the bargain."

Venters is 4-1 with a 1.59 ERA and three saves.

Among two themes sure to attract interest at the All-Star game are the heat -- it was 118 degrees in Phoenix this week and even though the ballpark has a retractable roof, some of the festivities are outdoors -- and Arizona's immigration law.

The law requires immigrants to carry their registration documents and police who are enforcing other laws to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally. Last year, several All-Stars said they would boycott the game if picked.

Jurrjens, a first-time All-Star and a native of Curacao, said the Arizona politics were not a concern to him.

"I don't try to think about stuff I don't have control of. They need to do what they need to do to make it safe for the people. If they need to do that under the law, everybody knows a lot of people do bad stuff and they're just trying to be safe," he said.

Georgia has passed its own strict law on immigration, styled in the manner of Arizona's law. It went into effect on Friday, though a few of its key provisions were halted by a federal judge.