Rangers’ Hunter Pence voted an All-Star Game starter

After hitting a career-worst .226 with a career-low four home runs for the Giants last season, it was widely assumed that Hunter Pence’s best days were in his past.

Thursday, however, Pence — now a member of the Texas Rangers — added an interesting twist to his saga as he was voted the starting designated hitter for the American League in next month’s All-Star Game in Cleveland.

Pence’s fourth All-Star appearance — his first since 2014 — will come in a season in which he has hit .294 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs despite being on the injured list since June 18 because of a groin strain. He is expected to return to the Rangers in the next few days.

“It was quite a wild journey from this year to last year,” Pence said. “And to even be speaking about this now, is a miracle. It’s a blessing, and I’m very grateful.”

While Pence, 36, has made a splash, so too have many of baseball’s youngest stars.

The National League’s starting outfield, for instance, will include the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger (23), the Brewers’ Christian Yelich (27) and the Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr. (21). The NL infield will include the Braves’ Freddie Freeman (29), the Diamondbacks’ Ketel Marte (25), the Cubs’ Javier Baez (26) and the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado (28), with the Cubs’ Willson Contreras (27) catching.

“I’ve never seen this much young talent in the game,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who will lead the NL. “There’s a lot of fun players to watch — talented and the personalities from some of these young players.”

The AL starters will include an outfield of the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Astros’ George Springer and Michael Brantley. The AL infield will include Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco, Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Indians first baseman Carlos Santana and Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez.

The rest of the 32-man rosters for each league, including the DH for the National League, will be determined by player balloting and selections from the Commissioner’s Office. Those All-Stars will be announced Sunday.

Injury report: Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is more likely to return in August than July after straining the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, general manager Brian Cashman said. Stanton went on the 10-day injured list Wednesday, a day after he was hurt while sliding headfirst into third base during a game against Toronto. … The Angels activated shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who had been out since May 21 because of a sprained ankle.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Rangers-Hunter-Pence-voted-an-All-Star-Game-14057419.php.

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