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Kevin Correia becomes Pirates' third All-Star

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Monday, July 11, 2011
 

Kevin Correia walked into PNC Park on Sunday morning carrying a packed suitcase and a plane ticket to Phoenix. All he needed was a spot on the All-Star Game's National League roster.

A few hours later, he got it.

Correia was tabbed as a replacement pitcher for the NL squad, giving the Pirates three All-Stars in a season for the first time in 21 years.

"I'm excited," Correia said. "It's an opportunity that doesn't come around all that often. People took notice of what we're doing here. We have guys who were well-deserving of it. And I think we have some future All-Stars on this roster, too."

Correia, a first-time All-Star, replaced Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels. Because Hamels started yesterday against Atlanta, he's disqualified from pitching in the All-Star Game to ensure he has adequate rest between outings.

"I knew that if Hamels pitched today, I was in," said Correia, who was the highest vote-getter in the players' ballot who wasn't chosen for the game.

Despite taking a loss Saturday, Correia (11-7) ranks third in the majors in wins. The right-hander has a 4.01 ERA and is on pace to make a career-high 35 starts.

"It's been a great season so far," Correia said. "To get an Opening Day start and now add this to it, it's so far one of the best seasons I've had."

When the Pirates signed Correia to a two-year, $8 million free-agent deal last winter, he said he wanted an opportunity to be the ace of the rotation.

"He's been our lead guy through the first half," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's established a mindset and a momentum for our pitchers to follow."

Correia joins teammates Joel Hanrahan, who was chosen via the players' ballot, and Andrew McCutchen, who Saturday was added to replace injured outfielder Ryan Braun of the Brewers.

In 1990, the Pirates sent Bobby Bonilla, Barry Bonds and Neal Heaton to the All-Star Game. Correia is the Pirates' first right-handed starting pitcher receiving an All-Star nod since Bob Walk in 1988.

The Pirates have claimed more than one All-Star rep in just three of the past 17 years. The most recent time was 2009, when Freddy Sanchez and Zach Duke were selected.

"No slight to Freddy and Zach, but this just feels different," general manager Neal Huntington said. "To hear the uproar when Andrew didn't make the (initial) roster, to have Kevin with 11 wins ... it's outstanding. It means we're moving forward in the right direction."

Hurdle originally had tabbed Correia to start the Pirates' game Friday in Houston. Instead, righty Jeff Karstens will pitch against the Astros in the first game after the All-Star break. Lefty Paul Maholm will start Saturday, and Correia will go Sunday.

Additional Information:

Seeing stars

The Pirates have had more than one All-Star in 10 of the past 25 years:

2011: Joel Hanrahan, Andrew McCutchen, Kevin Correia

2009: Zach Duke, Freddy Sanchez

2006: Jason Bay, Sanchez

2000: Jason Kendall, Brian Giles

1993: Jay Bell, Andy Van Slyke

1992: Barry Bonds, Van Slyke

1991: Bobby Bonilla, John Smiley

1990: Bonilla, Bonds, Neal Heaton

1988: Bonilla, Van Slyke, Bob Walk

1986: Rick Rhoden, Tony Pena

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