Wagner declines All-Star invitation
Billy Wagner was appreciative Saturday night when he was extended an invitation to pitch in this year’s All-Star Game. But the Braves closer has decided it would be better for him to spend the next few days resting his sore right ankle.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel invited Wagner when it was determined Jason Heyward wouldn’t be ale to play in Tuesday night’s game. Heyward’s roster spot will now be filled by Dodgers left-handed reliever Hong-Chih Kuo.
“It’s just good that I take some time off,” Wagner said. “I can pitch on it. But I’d hate to try to push it, when I know that I had some time. I’d feel better if I knew that I was around for the whole duration of this year, rather than trying to fight through this ankle all year. When we get closer to the end, I’m going to have to be ready to go everyday and there’s no days off.”
Along with converting 20 of his 23 save opportunities, Wagner has posted a 1.24 ERA, compiled a 0.86 WHIP, and limited opponents to a .162 batting average and .492 OPS. Each of these marks stand as the best compiled by any National League closer this year.
Since turning his ankle during June 17 appearance against the Rays, Wagner has been unavailable to pitch just one game. While bothersome, the ailment hasn’t prevented him from continuing his dominant run toward retirement.
In the 11 innings Wagner has completed since turning his ankle, he has allowed one earned run, surrendered five hits and recorded 17 strikeouts.
Wagner, who has shown no signs that he will alter his plan to retire at the end of this season, will still be recognized as gaining this seventh career All-Star selection. He will not accompany the five other Braves All-Stars to Anaheim this week.