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Whit Merrifield to play in MLB All-Star game

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals made the American League All-Star Team for the second time in his six-year Major League career.

The Midsummer Classic was played July 13 in Colorado.

Merrifield was a late addition, getting named as a replacement by MLB via a player vote on July 9. The spot opened when Houston second baseman Jose Altuve announced he wasn’t going to be playing.

Merrifield’s big news came after Friday’s 2-1 loss to Cleveland. MLB needed an answer immediately, so Kansas City manager Mike Matheny hurried into the locker room to find Merrifield, who was in the shower.

“Nobody really let me get out of the shower,” Merrifield said, laughing. “Everybody came in and hugged me, which was a really awkward celebration. But it was how it went down.”

“Timing was of the essence,” Matheny said. “We barely got off the field and were still trying to catch our breath after getting the wind knocked out of us (by a walk-off loss). My boss calls and says this is something the league needs to know about ASAP. And that’s where he was.”

Merrifield entered Saturday hitting .272 with eight home runs and 46 RBIs. His average is more than 30 points over the league average.

Through July 10, he was first in the majors in stolen bases (24), eighth in multi-hit games (26), tied for 12th in hits (95), tied for 19th in doubles (20) and tied for 36th in runs (50).

The leadoff batter/second baseman holds the longest active consecutive games played streak (395). He has played in every game for the Royals since June 25, 2018. The 395-game streak is 26 shy of the Royals’ record of 421.

Merrifield also got the All-Star nod in 2019.

“It means the most, frankly,” he said of being voted in by his peers. “The fan vote is great, and we appreciate all the support we get from the fans. But nobody knows what this game is like more than the players, and how tough it is. Outside of numbers, what guys are doing and the type of ability that just isn’t reflected solely looking at a boxscore. And players know that more than anybody. To be voted by the players, it means a ton to me, and it’s something I’m very appreciative of and thankful for.”

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Davie County’s other professional baseball player, Jeremy Walker, hasn’t seen the field since 2019 due to an injury.

Walker was called up to the Atlanta Braves in 2019 and pitched well in six relief appearances. But he missed the 2020 season with the injury. In the offseason, he was surprisingly released by Atlanta. In February, he signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants.

He was sent to Double-A Richmond (Va.). He’s a member of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, although Walker remains on the injured list.