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Balfour candidate to replace Colon as All-Star

Balfour candidate to replace Colon as All-Star

Balfour candidate to replace Colon as All-Star

KANSAS CITY -- Barring any unforeseen changes, Bartolo Colon will start next Sunday, meaning he may elect not to pitch in the All-Star Game two days later. The A's know just the right guy to replace him if that happens.

Colon is allowed to pitch one inning in the game if he so desires, but should he opt to remain on the sidelines, closer Grant Balfour -- originally thought by many to be a lock for the American League squad before Saturday's announcements -- stands as the logical choice to take his roster spot.

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"I don't know that for sure, but we're obviously hopeful for that," A's manager Bob Melvin said before Sunday's game against the Royals. "It's no fun being in Jim Leyland's shoes, and he really doesn't get to pick that many. But it is what it is."

Melvin says, at decision time, Leyland was aware Colon is scheduled to pitch on July 14, so it's possible the Tigers' manager purposely left Balfour off the roster knowing he was going to add him on at a later time, anyway.

Still, the 2012 AL West champions and current division-leading A's seemingly deserved to have more than one player named to the All-Star team. Several AL clubs below the .500 mark, including Seattle, Minnesota and Kansas City, have at least two.

Balfour, the only AL reliever without a blown save this season, wasn't even included on the AL Final Vote list that happens to promote five relievers -- all right-handed, too, like Balfour.

Then there's Josh Donaldson, who has put together one of the best first halves of anyone in the league. He entered Sunday's game tied for sixth in the AL in batting average (.317), fifth in slugging percentage (.533) and seventh in on-base percentage (.385). Moreover, his 57 RBIs rank second among third basemen.

Donaldson, it seems then, also would have made for a nice selection for one of the Final Vote slots.

"It's tough to pick," Melvin said. "I know someone from every team has to be picked. There are probably four or five third basemen that were in a position to make the team. I wish I had that job and I'm glad I don't."

Leyland spoke candidly about Donaldson to local Tigers media members on Sunday, saying, "There's a kid that got shortchanged."

"But there was nothing we could do about it," Leyland continued. "You've got Miguel Cabrera, and the players voted [Manny] Machado, and then you've got him, and you've still got [Evan] Longoria and [Adrian] Beltre. I mean, he just fell in. And it's too bad, because this kid ... I'll go on record saying this kid's an All-Star this year, but it just didn't [work out]. I can't have four third basemen. It's too bad.

"He's just a good, hard-nosed all-around player, and he's getting better all the time. He's growing up right before everybody's eyes. I was impressed with him last year. We talked about him last year. This kid, I really have a lot of respect for him. I don't know the kid, but he's strong, he's got power. He's a perfect corner guy, a very hard-nosed guy, and he's a scrapper defensively. I like him a lot, and he truly could've been an All-Star this year. It just didn't work out."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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