Clippard will represent Nats at All-Star Game

Clippard will represent Nats at All-Star Game

WASHINGTON -- Add the phrase "All-Star" to Tyler Clippard's resume. For the first time in his career, Clippard will play in the Midsummer Classic, as he was named on Sunday to the National League squad that will take the field at Arizona's Chase Field on July 12.

Clippard found out about his selection during a meeting before the Nationals faced the Pirates. During a discussion of security precautions that would be taken at Nationals Park when first lady Michelle Obama visits, general manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement to the entire team.

Now in his second season as the Nationals' primary setup man, Clippard finished the weekend with a 1.96 ERA and led the Major Leagues with 21 holds. He was also second among relievers with 57 strikeouts and third in innings, with 46.

"We had a security meeting because Michelle Obama is coming. [It was] pretty shocking, pretty awesome," Clippard said about making the All-Star team. "There's too many guys -- especially in the National League, starters, great closers -- I'm pitching well, but usually those are the guys that get the nod as far as the All-Star Game is concerned.

"I knew there was maybe an outside shot, but I didn't really take it seriously. That's probably a good thing, not really thinking about it too much. Now that it's here and it's actually happening, it's pretty awesome."

The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be played on July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. It will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

Clippard has come a long way since the Nationals acquired him from the Yankees for Jonathan Albaladejo on Dec. 4, 2007. Clippard initially worked as a starter, but after struggling during the 2008 season, he was moved to the bullpen by then-Triple-A Syracuse pitching coach Steve McCatty, who is now Washington's pitching coach. McCatty felt Clippard would be more effective pitching just one to three innings per game.

Clippard said he wasn't going to make plans for the Midsummer Game, other than to savor it. He was also an All-Star in the Minor Leagues, when he was in Class A Advanced, but he didn't play in the game.

"They sent me down to Low A to pitch in a playoff-clinching game that I lost," he said. "This is the second All-Star Game that I've ever done."

Clippard is now considered one of the best setup men in baseball. Last season, he led the Nationals with 11 wins, and his 112 strikeouts ranked second on the team.

Two spots remain up for grabs, one on each roster, which will be decided by the fans as part of the Final Vote, which includes Nationals first baseman Michael Morse. Clippard said Morse was deserving of a spot on the squad, as well.

"He's been our best player all year long," Clippard said. "I think since May, he's probably been the best hitter in the big leagues. What he has proven to himself, and proven to the league, about what kind of player he is this year -- and at the end of last year, too -- has been phenomenal."

Fans, having already decided the starters, this week will have the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 7. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Msg&Data Rates May Apply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. Std rates may apply.

On July 12, fans once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.