Blue Jays’ Aaron Sanchez added to all-star team

Aaron Sanchez. (Ben Margot/AP)

TORONTO — Aaron Sanchez had given up on making the 2016 all-star game.

The Blue Jays pitcher thought he’d missed his chance when Corey Kluber was chosen as Toronto starter Marco Estrada’s injury replacement. But Sanchez was named to the American League all-star team on Saturday afternoon, replacing Boston Red Sox reliever Craig Kimbrel.

"Obviously Marco got hurt and I thought I had a chance," said Sanchez after earning a no decision in Toronto’s 3-2 loss to the visiting Detroit Tigers on Saturday afternoon. "After that, I didn’t really want to think about it. Definitely a pleasant surprise for myself. Going into every year, I think that’s one of the things you set goals for, just to be in this category with those guys is unbelievable."

AL manager Ned Yost of Kansas City announced the choice Saturday. The game is Tuesday in San Diego. Kimbrel injured his left knee while shagging balls before Friday night’s game. He is expected to have surgery for a medial meniscus tear Monday and likely will be sidelined for three to six weeks.

Sanchez is the fifth Blue Jays to be named an all-star this season.

Third baseman Josh Donaldson, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, starting pitcher Marco Estrada and left-fielder Michael Saunders had already been added to the AL’s roster for the mid-summer classic on July 12. Estrada will not be able to participate after he was put on the 15-day disabled list with a sore back. Saunders was elected by an online fan ballot.

"That’s a huge accomplishment. There were so many other guys deserving of this award and to be mentioned with those people is a huge honour for me," said Sanchez in the Blue Jays clubhouse. "To be honest with you, I kind of gave up after the first couple times."

Sanchez is 9-1 with a 2.97 earned-run average in 18 starts and is a first-time all-star.

Marcus Stroman, Sanchez’s teammate and close friend, believes Saturday’s announcement was long overdue.

"Everyone said ‘he couldn’t start, he couldn’t start’, everyone said that the entire time, I told everyone from Day 1 when I walked into spring training how special he was," Stroman said. "He’s one of the best starters in baseball by far and he’ll continue to be. It’s just reassuring now that he got in, like he should’ve."

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