MILWAUKEE -- Aramis Ramirez had not even thought about the All-Star Game before his name appeared atop the list of National League third basemen in the latest round of balloting results.
Now, with less than a week to go in online voting, he says he would relish the opportunity to represent the NL for the third time in his career.
"Any time you get the opportunity to go, you should," said Ramirez, who started the All-Star Game in 2005 and played off the bench in '08. "It's a fun time, especially for the family."
Ramirez referred to it as a "win-win situation for me. If I make it, good. If not, I get to go home and enjoy myself for four days."
Ramirez was surprised to see his name atop the leaderboard at third base because he missed about a month with a hamstring injury. But since Ramirez's return to the lineup June 4, the Brewers have continued winning and Ramirez has resumed hitting, ranking fourth in the NL with six home runs from that date through Thursday, fifth with 19 RBIs and tied for fifth with a .363 batting average.
Health is behind his surge, Ramirez said.
"Last year I wasn't healthy at all," he said. "This year I feel a lot better physically and mentally, and you see the results. When you're healthy, you're going to perform. When you're not, it's tough. That was the case last year."
Ramirez was the Brewers' cleanup hitter when healthy in 2012 and '13, but he has been hitting fifth since coming off the DL. Manager Ron Roenicke has discussed returning Ramirez to the four-hole and dropping Ryan Braun from second to his usual position batting third, but he has yet to make the change because the current offensive alignment has been working so well.
"You look at numbers of things, and it doesn't tell you to do it yet," Roenicke said. "Visually, you see a game and you think, 'Well, I would like to do it.' But when you talk about current cleanup hitter [Carlos Gomez], because we know he can hit anywhere in the lineup, he's still [.355 entering Friday] with runners in scoring position. I think he's third in the league. So, what do you do?"
Is Ramirez eager to return to his usual spot?
"Not really," he said. "Roenicke keeps asking me, and I keep telling him, 'We're winning like that. No reason to change anything.' I don't have the big ego that I have to be the cleanup hitter or the three-hole hitter. I don't care. As long as we're winning games, I don't care."
With 1,279,902 votes as of MLB's most recent update, Ramirez moved ahead of the Mets' David Wright (1,260,895 votes), the Giants' Pablo Sandoval (1,194,607 votes) and the Cardinals' Matt Carpenter (1,049,472 votes). Wright, who had been the leading vote-getter before that update, was scratched from New York's lineup on Friday and sent home to have an MRI scan on his right shoulder.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15, on FOX.
"They vote here," Ramirez said. "The fans, they're really passionate about their team. A lot of guys here deserve it, too. We've been playing pretty well."
Miller Park to host soccer, to Gallardo's delight
MILWAUKEE -- Before baseball returns from the All-Star break, Miller Park will host its first football match.
Not football as in touchdowns, but football as in goals. The Mexican soccer club C.D. Guadalajara, affectionately known throughout the world as Chivas, will play Swansea City A.F.C of the English Premier League on Wednesday, July 16. It is part of Chivas' annual U.S. Tour, which includes four matches against some of the best teams from top soccer nations -- Brazil, England, Germany and Mexico. Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who was born in Mexico and grew up playing soccer and baseball, took part in a promotional news conference on Friday at Miller Park.
"My family are big soccer fans," Gallardo said. "Every weekend, Saturday and Sunday, we were watching soccer on TV with all my uncles. Every single team. Every opportunity we had to catch a game, we caught the game.
"As far as for myself, I played a couple years in high school, but I kind of realized I had to give one of them up. It was tough. They were almost right around the same time of year. … It was tough not playing [soccer] anymore, but I feel like I made a pretty good decision on that one. I enjoy watching the game, especially an event like this. Whenever I have the opportunity to be there live and watch a game -- if I'm able to do it, I'll be there."
Ticket prices range from $25 to $70, and parking is $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the match. Tickets are available online at brewers.com/soccer. The pitch will be laid out in an east-west orientation with one goal in left field and the other goal near first base.
Crew Rule 5 pick Wang hits Majors milestone
MILWAUKEE -- Friday marked left-hander Wei-Chung Wang's 90th day in the Major Leagues, a milestone of sorts because of the regulations governing Rule 5 Draft picks.
To keep a Rule 5 pick, he must remain on his new team's roster for an entire season and must be active -- in other words, not on the disabled list -- for at least 90 days. Because Wang has now cleared the 90-day mark, he will remain under Brewers control for 2015 and beyond even if he spends time on the DL over the remainder of this season.
Officials in the Brewers' front office are maintaining a long view with Wang, 22, whom they want to get through the season so they can send him to the Minors next year to convert back to a starting role. They hoped Wang was advanced enough to contribute innings this year in long relief or in a mop-up role, but that has not happened. He pitched only 10 times in the Brewers' first 81 games and entered Friday with a 12.51 ERA. To remain in pitching shape, he occasionally throws pregame bullpen sessions.
"I think where we are and in the position we are at, when we have games to win, we need to do whatever it takes to win those games," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "If you are in a different position, there are some games he would have been in. My thoughts have changed on it. He needs some outings and development -- we're still conscious of that. I'm not downgrading what he does, but I can't take a chance on putting him in a game."