Major League Baseball announced Sunday that San Francisco closer Will Smith will make his first All-Star Game appearance one day before his 30th birthday, acting as the Giants sole representative in Cleveland for this year’s interleague contest July 9.
Smith, who has anchored the Giants bullpen since last season, has converted 21 consecutive saves in 2019 with a perfect record, posted a 2.10 ERA with a 0.810 WHIP and is averaging nearly 14 strikeouts per nine innings.
The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2017 and part of 2018 to the recovery, but he’s been quietly one of the most effective relievers in baseball since his return last May.
Smith said he was very excited and proud to be named an All Star, especially after all the work he put in to make it back from the injury:
“You play to be one of the best, so to be considered one of the best at the halfway point—it’s a good feeling.”
The Georgia native said he normally just relaxes by the lake back home during the All Star game, but he’s more than content to forego the barbecue this year:
“It’s all new to me, but I’m just excited to see my family cherish that moment, it’ll be the first time for everybody in our family so it’ll be a lot of fun.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants had a meeting before Sunday’s contest with the Diamondbacks to congratulate their closer. The skipper said he was glad to see Smith get the recognition he deserves:
“You look at what this man’s gone through with Tommy John, he really hadn’t been a closer until last year. We gave him that role and he’s run with it this year and we couldn’t be happier for him. He’s such a great teammate, just so well-respected in the clubhouse and loved. We all knew he would make the club.”
Kevin Pillar heaped praise on Smith and his talent noting that the selection was well-deserved. He said:
“Up until this point he’s been a very underrated player…If you asked me when I got traded over here who was closing games for San Francisco, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you, but he’s as dominant a closer as I’ve seen playing.”
Madison Bumgarner said it was so obvious Smith deserved to represent the National League that he congratulated Smith for making the All Star team a week ago. Bumgarner said:
“I don’t think it was any surprise to anybody. He deserves to be there as much as anybody so I’m excited for him. I think this is his first one and it should be a lot of fun for him.”