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    Dodgers’ Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, J.D. Martinez voted to All-Star starting lineup
    • June 30, 2023

    DENVER — The Dodgers went 3 for 4 Thursday.

    Three players were voted into the starting lineup for the National League All-Stars – first baseman Freddie Freeman, outfielder Mookie Betts and designated hitter J.D. Martinez. It is the first time the Dodgers will have three position players in the starting lineup since 1980, when four Dodgers started for the NL – Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Davey Lopes and Reggie Smith.

    “It’s always special to be in an All-Star Game,” said Betts, who has been selected seven times and started four. “It means you’re doing something pretty good – no matter how I feel or what I say, I’m doing something.

    “There’s a lot of guys gonna be there (from the Dodgers). It’s a testament to our team, our organization and the coaches and whatnot. But it’s always just special just to get to go to be amongst those guys.”

    Will Smith was also a finalist but Atlanta Braves catcher Sean Murphy beat him out in the second phase of fan voting. Smith is nearly certain to be added to the team when pitchers and reserves are announced on Sunday.

    It would be Smith’s first All-Star selection. Freeman, Betts and Martinez have been selected a combined 20 times – but Betts will be a first-timer in one respect in Seattle. He has accepted an invitation to participate in the Home Run Derby, a first for Betts – “even though I don’t know that I really want to do it.”

    Betts said his wife, Brianna, told him he needed to do it as a bucket-list item.

    “She said, ‘You got to do it.’ (It is) the last thing I haven’t done, so I’m gonna do it. Have fun with it, and we’ll see what happens,” Betts said.

    Betts joked about his chances of winning the Derby at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds.

    “I don’t think that many guys my size win the Home Run Derby,” Betts said. “When I told my mom she wasn’t too thrilled. She told me I didn’t raise you to come in last. So the goal now is not to come in last.

    “I don’t think she’s a huge fan of seeing her son lose.”

    Betts leads the Dodgers with 20 home runs, fifth in the National League and tied for seventh in the majors. Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez have also confirmed their participation in the Derby, which is scheduled for Monday, July 10.

    Betts said he has asked Dodgers coach Clayton McCullough to pitch to him in the Derby and paid the outfield instructor a big compliment in the process.

    “I’ve had some really good coaches – some really, really really good coaches – and Clayton’s probably my favorite of all time,” Betts said. “The main reason is not what he teaches me, it’s just because of how much he holds me accountable, how much when I come to work he expects from me, and he holds me to it. He’s my favorite.”

    McCullough said Betts’ comments were “flattering” and he looks forward to making the most of the All-Star break with his family in Seattle.

    “I appreciate him saying that,” McCullough said. “I can say a couple years ago, first coming up here, new to this, new to coaching the outfield, so having someone of his pedigree and how successful he’s been – he’s been good to me from day one. He’s helped me far more than I’ve helped him with things. I appreciate him saying that. It’s flattering. But he’s a good dude, he works hard and we have a good relationship.

    “I’m pumped for him. He’s done so many things in this game – won a World Series, MVP, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove. The accolades go on and on. But for him to want to do something like this and step out from his norm. … I think for him to want to put himself out there and do it is cool and for him to ask me, I’m excited as well.”

    Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Betts’ chances of winning the competition are “not great.”

    “I applaud him for doing it,” Roberts said. “Mookie hits homers in games. That’s why he’s up there on the leaderboard. But the physicality of hitting rounds and rounds of home runs – I kind of equate it to old-school Larry Bird in the 3-point contest. Larry Bird could shoot a set shot around the 3-point line and other guys used to have to shoot a jump shot. As you keep going and going, you lose your legs. Even if Mookie has a big first round and advances, it takes a lot for a guy that’s not as physical.

    “I hope he does well. I’m not betting on him.”

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    ​ Orange County Register