SEATTLE -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia has taken his game to the next level this season. However, there are deserving players who are left off the All-Star team every year, and Saltalamacchia fell into that category on Sunday, when selections were announced on the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell.
Boston's starting catcher leads American League backstops with 15 homers, 28 extra-base hits and a .537 slugging percentage. He's had three home runs from the seventh inning or later that have either tied the game or put the Red Sox ahead.
"It's tough. I definitely wanted to make it," said Saltalamacchia. "I felt like I deserved it. At the same time, I think A.J. [Pierzynski] deserved it as well. You look at that and you see that it's tough. It's not the end of the world. We've still got a lot of season left."
Mike Napoli, Joe Mauer and Matt Wieters are the three catchers who will represent the AL in Kansas City.
"Well, I hope he's not disappointed," manager Bobby Valentine said of Saltalamacchia. "I hope he's proud of the way he's played and I hope he's ready to build on it. He's played like an All-Star. That you don't get selected is just a numbers game. He's taken a step this first half and I hope he can continue to improve on that."
For every hug that David Ortiz -- Boston's lone All-Star -- got from a teammate on Sunday morning, there was also one for Saltalamacchia.
"You know, the biggest honor to me really is my teammates are walking around telling me, 'You should have made it.' That means more to me than anything, because those are the guys that see what I go through on a day to day basis and battle and go to war with me every day," Saltalamacchia said.
Crawford, Ellsbury nearing next step in rehab
SEATTLE -- With no Gulf Coast League action on Sunday, left fielder Carl Crawford hopped on a plane to Boston, where he will be re-examined by the Red Sox's medical staff. Jacoby Ellsbury, who is recovering from a partially dislocated right shoulder, will play his third GCL game on Monday, but he could move as high as Double-A by Tuesday, according to manager Bobby Valentine.
Assuming Crawford gets the go sign from the medical staff, he will probably move to another affiliate to continue his rehab, rather than continue on in Fort Myers, Fla.
"Get under the lights, yeah," said Valentine. "Play before a crowd and all that stuff. He feels good health-wise."
Crawford hasn't played at all in 2012, thanks to left wrist surgery and a sprained UCL in his left elbow.
The outfielder who is closest to re-joining the active roster is Scott Podsednik, who has been moving around well in his rehab at Triple-A Pawtucket.
It wouldn't be surprising if Podsednik, who had a mild left groin strain, is activated when the Red Sox open a three-game series against the Yankees on Friday.
Reliever Andrew Bailey, who had right thumb surgery the day before the season, played catch at 150 feet on Sunday. He is close to getting on the mound, said Valentine.
Papi only a spectator at this year's Derby
SEATTLE -- Slugger David Ortiz won the State Farm Home Run Derby two years ago in Anaheim. He was an enthusiastic captain and participant last year.
However, Big Papi is excited to just be a spectator this year.
"I'm going to enjoy myself really good now, just watching the guys performing out there," Ortiz said. "Fans always like to see me around, because I do enjoy just watching the guys hitting bombs. My dad always tells me, 'Hey, man, you look like a little kid out of there.' Like that one show that Josh Hamilton put on in New York, that was something. I think that was maybe the first time I got tired of watching somebody hitting bombs.
"And my boy [Robinson] Cano last year, and [Adrian Gonzalez] last year, it's fun. I'm going to be like the godfather now. I'm just going to sit and watch."
Why doesn't Ortiz want to participate?
"I got worn out last year," Ortiz said. "I got so tired, and I think it caught up with me later on during the season. I ran out of gas. It was the first time I feel like I was really tired. I guess age is catching up with Papi. I just need to save my energy for the second half now.. But I'm going to have fun."
"I think the Home Run Derby is something that's fun to watch, because you're using your own power. That's how you know when guys really have [power], because you're not using the power coming out of the pitcher's hand. You're using your own power, and you've got to do it over and over and over and over. It's pretty cool."
After Middlebrooks tweaks hammy, ill Aviles fills in
SEATTLE -- When Mike Aviles came up ill and had to be scratched from the lineup shortly before game-time, manager Bobby Valentine didn't think he'd be calling on his shortstop for the rest of the day.
But when third baseman Will Middlebrooks had to leave in the bottom of the ninth with left hamstring tightness, Aviles was fortunately able to answer the bell and enter the game at shortstop. Nick Punto moved from short to third.
Without Aviles being able to play, Valentine wouldn't have had the flexibility to have Ryan Kalish serve as a pinch-hitter for Brent Lillibridge in the 10th. And all Kalish did was crush a one-out double off the wall in center, sparking what wound up as the game-winning rally in a 2-1 win by the Red Sox.
"It's all about the breaks, and you know we got a break where Mike Aviles came off the deathbed there and was able to go out and play shortstop, which allowed us to pinch-hit Kalish, who went out there and put one off the wall," Valentine said. "Otherwise, he would have been out there with Brent at third base and Kalish wouldn't have hit that inning."
While young players sometimes have a hard time feeling comfortable in a pinch-hitting situation, Kalish said he kind of likes it.
"I don't really mind it," Kalish said. "It's just another obstacle that you can show your value. Obviously you go out there and you're just trying to have something happen. But you just keep it light. It's a situation where there's pressure, but there's really none because you haven't been in the game a long time. You're just out there trying to put a good swing on something. My whole life when I've pinch-hit, I've had pretty good success. I kind of find it fun."
Middlebrooks also battled hamstring tightness about six weeks ago, but he recovered quickly. The Red Sox are hoping for the same result this time, though Valentine said the team would have a better read on the situation when they start a three-game series in Oakland on Monday.