TORONTO — Bo Bichette is grateful to be returning to the all-star game.
The American League hits leader was among four Toronto Blue Jays who were named to Major League Baseball's midseason exhibition on Sunday. Slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr., ace Kevin Gausman and second baseman Whit Merrifield will join Bichette at the all-star game.
Bichette was an all-star in 2021 and he said that now he's older he'll appreciate the honour more.
"To be honest, I think my first year I took it for granted," said Bichette before he officially became an all-star. "So if I get that opportunity again, I'll be definitely happy to take it."
Bichette leads the AL with 113 hits this season. The shortstop has a .317 batting average, 15 home runs and 51 runs batted in.
It will be Guerrero's third consecutive all-star game and he was named the exhibition's most valuable player in 2021. He's hitting .274 with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs this season.
Guerrero announced on Friday that he would be participating in the home run derby with Blue Jays manager John Schneider throwing to him in that exhibition. They combined for a record-setting 91 home runs in the 2021 home-run derby.
Gausman has a 7-4 record with a 3.04 earned-run average and an AL-best 146 strikeouts.
Merrifield is batting .282 with two home runs and 30 RBIs split between second base and the outfield. He was traded to Toronto from the Kansas City Royals ahead of last season's trade deadline.
He said that his fresh start with the Blue Jays led to his third all-star appearance.
"I had a decent first half so it's nice to be rewarded for that," said Merrifield. "Especially after coming off a tough start to my year last year.
"Missed out last year, so it's nice to get off to a better start."
The home run derby is on July 10 and the all-star game will be held the next day at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2023.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press