ATLANTA -- A Nationals franchise that has featured the minimum six total All-Stars over the last six years will send at least three players -- and possibly four -- to next week's Midsummer Classic in Kansas City.
Pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez along with shortstop Ian Desmond all learned this morning they will be members of the National League's All-Star squad, Strasburg and Gonzalez selected by their fellow players and Desmond selected by manager Tony La Russa.
Rookie Bryce Harper, meanwhile, learned he's one of five NL players in contention for the "Final Vote" spot on the roster, with fans now left to choose between the 19-year-old outfielder and four other contenders: retiring Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, teammate Michael Bourn, Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill and Cardinals third baseman David Freese.
"Obviously when you get more than one guy, get Desi and Gio in there too, it's huge," Strasburg said. "It means that we're winning. Typically the team in last place only gets one guy. So it's nice to ... correct me if I'm wrong, but this might be the first time with three?"
Indeed, this is only the second time the Nationals have boasted more than one All-Star since the franchise arrived in town (Chad Cordero and Livan Hernandez both were selected in 2005) and the first time they've sent more than two players to the game.
Strasburg (9-3, 2.81 ERA, MLB-high 122 strikeouts) and Gonzalez (10-3, 2.78 ERA, 108 strikeouts entering today's start in Atlanta) appeared to be locks to make the club, and each pitcher was selected by their fellow players.
This is Strasburg's first All-Star selection, and the 23-year-old was humbled to learn the news this morning via manager Davey Johnson only 10 months since he made his return to the mound following Tommy John surgery.
"It's going to be a tremendous experience and it's a huge honor for me," the right-hander said. "It's amazing to think where I was a year ago. It's great to see the hard work has all paid off, but it's not done. It's only the halfway point in the year, and we've still got a long ways to go."
Gonzalez will be making his second All-Star appearance, having gotten the nod last year while pitching for the Athletics.
Desmond, meanwhile, earns his first All-Star selection, chosen by La Russa (who while managing the Cardinals last season mentioned the 26-year-old shortstop as one of his favorite players). In his third full big-league seasons, Desmond enters Sunday's game hitting .276 with 13 homers, 43 RBI and a .483 slugging percentage that leads all MLB shortstops.