David Ortiz leads young, 'massive' Red Sox delegation into All-Star Game

BOSTON -- In a perfect world, sure, David Ortiz definitely could benefit from four consecutive days off to rest his aching feet and heels.

But pass up a chance to play in one last All-Star Game?

No shot.

"Having a break is great, you know what I'm saying? But it's not like I'm going to another All-Star Game as a player," Ortiz said Tuesday before the official announcement that he was selected to his 10th All-Star Game, his seventh as a starter for the American League. "Getting around 3 million votes, that's a lot of people that would like to see you out there. That's something I really appreciate, that people take their time to vote for myself and my teammates and want us to be there as a massive group."

Make no mistake: The Boston Red Sox's delegation will be sizable.

The Sox have six All-Stars: Ortiz, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts were all voted in as starters by the fans, while knuckleballer Steven Wright was picked by AL manager Ned Yost of the Kansas City Royals and closer Craig Kimbrel was chosen in player balloting. The half-dozen selections are the most for the Red Sox since they sent six players to the game in Arizona in 2011.

And there's a 20 percent chance the contingent will grow to seven players. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia is among five candidates for the final AL roster spot, which will be determined by fan voting.

"We're going to have a great representation of the Red Sox -- and deservedly so," manager John Farrell said. "Whether they're young players, a veteran as David is, this is a great combination of players that we're going to be sending to San Diego. I think in a number of years to come, we'll look back at this being the first of many for probably three of those guys on our club."

Indeed, Bogaerts, Betts and Bradley might be just scratching the surface of their All-Star experiences. Although each has been highly regarded as a top prospect at various times during their ascension to the big leagues, they also have dealt with growing pains in reaching this point.

Bradley, in particular, was buried in Triple-A at this time last year, his 2014 season having gone so miserably that the Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract. If you had told most team officials that Bradley would be playing a game in July 2016 in San Diego, they likely would've assumed it was because he had been traded to the Padres.

"I've been through a lot of adversity, but I think that shows that I'm willing to put the work in to keep moving forward," Bradley said. "You can't be discouraged. I went through a lot -- physically, mentally, emotionally. Those kind of things you can't forget, so you can either use it to your advantage or you can sulk, and I didn't think that was an option for me."

But it's doubtful that there's a more unlikely All-Star than Wright, who began throwing a knuckleball in 2010 as a way to salvage a career that stalled in Triple-A and didn't have a spot in the Red Sox's starting rotation until lefty Eduardo Rodriguez injured his knee in spring training. Wright has turned out to be the club's best pitcher, posting a 2.42 ERA in 16 starts.

After learning he had made the All-Star team, one of Wright's first calls was to former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

"I wanted him to hear it from me first. He's helped me out so much," Wright said. "He continues to help me. The fact that he takes time away from his family to help me in spring training and then takes time here to come in early to have conversations with me -- if I need him, he'll come out and play catch with me or watch me play catch and stuff. He's helped me a lot."