Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun showed no outward disappointment Monday in not being elected to the All-Star Game as a starter in fan balloting, instead making it as a reserve on the player ballots.
"You never get greedy," said Braun, speaking for the first time about being named to his fifth consecutive All-Star Game but missing out in the fan voting for the first time.
"Anytime you're going to an All-Star Game, it's a tremendous honor. It's always a lot of fun. It's amazing to have an opportunity to represent the Brewers organization, the city of Milwaukee. It's so hard to go to an All-Star Game so any time you get an opportunity to go, whether it's the final vote, voted in by the fans, the players, picked by the manager, whatever the circumstances or situation is, it's a tremendous honor."
No one will ever know how much Braun's turbulent winter, including a positive drug test and successful appeal of a 50-game suspension, hurt him in the fan voting. But Braun said making the team on his own merit via player voting was meaningful.
"It means something to me, regardless," he said. "It's definitely special. You always want to be recognized for the success you have on the field, for the work you put in off the field. Nobody's opinion is more relevant or important to me than my peers. So that's very meaningful to be voted in by them."
As for silencing any critics who didn't think he'd do well in 2012, Braun said, "I said at the beginning of the year that the most important thing for me to do to move beyond everything was to have success on the field. That was the single most important thing I could do. But the goal was not to have success for the first half or the first few months. The goal was to be successful all year and for the next 10 or 12 years. I've started off in the right direction."
In the final days of online voting for fans, San Francisco's Melky Cabrera surged to the lead among NL outfielders, with Matt Kemp falling to third and barely beating Braun for that spot. Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval and catcher Buster Posey also were voted in as starters.
"Whoever's involved in the San Francisco election process needs to contact the Barack Obama re-election team or maybe get hold of Mitt Romney or something because the surge in the polls was spectacular," said Braun. "Those San Francisco fans are incredible supportive. I just think they're excited. Their team is playing really well. A lot of times, individual accolades are a result of team success. And their team is playing great right now. Clearly, people there are fired up in supporting their team."
Braun said he was surprised not to see teammate Zack Greinke selected but understood how tough the process can be, especially for pitchers.
"I felt like he certainly pitched well enough to be an all-star to this point," said Braun. "He's been great for us. There are a lot of really great pitchers in the National League right now. There were quite a few other guys who were deserving as well. Every year you're going to have guys who look like they should make the team who didn't. A lot of times those have a way of working themselves out. Hopefully, somebody pulls out or something happens and he finds a way to get there. He started his career there and I had a ton of success there and I think it would be special to find a way to get back there."
Braun still has a couple of chances to make the starting lineup. Should Kemp's lingering hamstring injury force him to withdraw, Braun would replace him by being the next outfielder on the players' ballot. The game also will include the use of a DH this year, opening another spot in the lineup.
"One way or the other, it looks like I could have a pretty decent chance of being in there," he said. "Either way, when you're an all-star, you're an all-star. It's an extremely difficult thing to do. I was told earlier today that I know have as many all-star appearances as anybody who's ever played for the Brewers.
"That puts into perspective how difficult it is. You look at all the great players that have played for this organization and nobody has made more than five all-star teams. It shows you how difficult it is. It's something I would never take for granted, however I'm able to get there."
When asked if he had been asked by Kemp to be in the Home Run Derby but declined, Braun wouldn't bite, saying only, "I enjoy watching the Derby so I'm excited to watch those guys."