The White Sox delegation to this year's All-Star Game will have a distinctively Cuban flair.
First baseman Jose Abreu and shortstop Alexei Ramirez were both named to the American League All-Star team on Sunday, with left-hander Chris Sale part of the "Final Vote" fan contest for the July 15 game at Target Field in Minneapolis. These are the first All-Star bids for Abreu, a rookie, and Ramirez, a seven-year veteran.
"I want to thank the players and the people that selected Alexei and me to go to the All-Star Game," Abreu said through a translator. "It really is an honor. I can’t tell you how happy I am."
Added Ramirez through a translator: "I’m happy that our Cuban baseball, our level of baseball is being recognized here."
Abreu earned his bid with a major league high 27 home runs through Sunday -- and that's despite missing 15 days in May with an ankle injury. He's become a must-see attraction on the South Side, altering a number of games with his elite combination of power and plate coverage skills.
The two-time American League rookie of the month and April American League player of the month already has a laundry list of personal accomplishments, from those three awards to his walk-off grand slam against Tampa Bay in April to an 18-game hitting streak that was snapped on Saturday.
But being named to the American League All-Star team by his peers has been the greatest honor Abreu's received in his first stateside season.
"I can’t give them enough thanks for recognizing what I’ve done and recognizing me and sending me to the All-Star Game," Abreu said. "I’m extremely happy, but other than giving thanks, I’m at a loss for words."
[RELATED: Abreu named AL Rookie of the Month for June]
For Ramirez, his All-Star bid is validation for a torrid first half in which he's already hit more home runs (eight) than he had in all of 2013 (six). While his numbers have faded since the start of June, he posted an .840 OPS with seven home runs -- including a walk-off blast against Cleveland in April -- in the season's first two months.
Ramirez said he was still in shock after learning of his All-Star status, but was able reflect on what the honor means to him in his seventh year in the majors.
"First thing is I am appreciative to the White Sox and the organization for giving me the opportunity to play and giving me the confidence and allowing me to do what I’ve done," Ramirez said. "These past seven years have been tremendous. I just can’t help but appreciate the opportunity I’ve been given by the organization."
Members of the White Sox were Abreu and Ramirez were pleased to see two well-respected teammates head to Minneapolis. Adam Eaton was happy to see two of the guys who've driven him in quite a bit this season make the contest, while manager Robin Ventura appreciated the hard work put in by the pair paying off.
And Sale, who could very well wind up joining Abreu and Ramirez at Target Field, said the "right two guys are going."
"They're very well-deserved," he added, "and kind of a no-brainer."