The stage might not be Yankee Stadium, and there may not be millions of fans watching. But for Salt Lake Bees slugger Matt Brown, the setting at Louisville Slugger Field is just fine.
"It's definitely an honor," Brown said of his participation in the Triple-A All-Star game tonight. "It's an honor to be selected for a game like this. It means you're doing the right things and making the progress you want to be making."
It's also a chance for Brown to show his parent club or anyone else out there who might be watching that he's Major League material.
For the first half of the season, his offensive production has certainly made a pretty good case for a call-up to Anaheim.
In 83 games this season, the 25-year-old infielder from Bellevue, Wash., has belted 20 homers just 12 shy of the single-season team record and driven in 62 runs while boasting a .326 batting average.
Brown is joined on the all-star roster by relief pitcher Jason Bulger. Salt Lake's closer is trying hard to get another shot with the Angels and has a sizzling 0.64 ERA with a 2-0 record and 10 saves. Bulger, however, will not be joining Brown in Kentucky for the party.
Bulger also has tendinitis in his right shoulder and was just placed on the disabled list. Rather than make a couple of flights to just be a spectator, Bulger will be staying put and resting his shoulder so he can make a quick return to the Bees' active roster.
Bees manager Bobby Mitchell said that decision is designed with Bulger's best interests in mind.
"It's more important that he gets well," Mitchell said, "in case he gets another shot up in the big leagues."
Bulger has been almost untouchable as a pitcher while with the Bees. In 24 appearances, the 6-foot-4 right-hander from Georgia has 48 strikeouts, has allowed only two runs and just 17 hits in 28.1 innings. His ERA is an incredible 0.64.
"I wish I could be out there," Bulger said. "But I have to do what's best for me right now, and this will be good to stay home and rest."
As with every player in the minor leagues, a promotion to the parent club is the goal.
"I can't tell you how hungry I am," Bulger said. "Everybody at this level wants to be there. I want another chance to show I can contribute at that level."
Brown, likewise, is hoping for a shot in the bigs.
On Monday, he had a chance to participate in the Triple-A version of the home run derby but was unable to get out of the first round. Tucson's Jamie D'Antona won the event.If he plays in tonight's game or not, Brown said he mostly wants to soak in the environment and not over-extend himself when he can rest and recharge for the second half of the season.
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