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December 10, 2019
San Diego, California
GREG AMSINGER: Hello everybody, my name is Greg Amsinger from MLB Network. Thank you for joining us as baseball unveils its inaugural selections as the MLB team for Scott -- of the All MLB teams presented by Scotts.
To get things underway, I would like to welcome baseball commissioner Rob Manfred.
ROB MANFRED: Good afternoon. I can't tell you how pleased I am to be here for the inaugural naming of the All-MLB teams. As part of an ongoing effort to market and showcase our great players, we decided that it was time to have an award that recognized a full season of performance.
Historically of course we have had the All-Star game, but that focuses on the first half of the year, and we thought it was time to have a full-year award.
In Major League Baseball it is not an easy thing to pick the best player at each position, but our fans proved up to the task. Even though this is the first All-MLB team we had over 6 million fan ballots that were filed.
In addition, we had a great panel of experts that assisted us in selecting the team. It was made up of media people, broadcasters, some former players and baseball officials, combined with our fans. MLB did a great job and picked a great first team and a great second team.
I would like to thank especially the players that are here with us today and everyone that participated in the selection process. With that, I would like to turn it back to Greg.
GREG AMSINGER: All right. Thank you, Commissioner Manfred. Like he said, all voters were asked to focus on players' performance for the 2019 regular season at each position. Five infielders, three outfielders, regardless of position, five starters, and two relievers. Let's turn our attention to the monitors for the unveiling of the first all-MLB team presented by Scotts.
GREG AMSINGER: You just witnessed history there folks. A round of applause to the honorees of the 2019 All-MLB team presented by Scotts. We're excited to talk about this, one of my best friends, my colleague Harold Reynolds, is here.
Everyone Harold Reynolds of MLB network. You just sit right over there.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Hello, everybody. I'm going to ask the guys questions.
GREG AMSINGER: We're excited to have with us a number of players who were named to the first and second teams. Join me in welcoming the All-MLB second team, designated hitter of the Houston Astros, Yordan Alvarez is with us.
(Applause.) Good to see you, Yordan.
We have Oakland A's shortstop, Marcus Semien.
Brand new Chicago White Sox catcher, Yasmani Grandal is with us.
We have two members from the first team, and that is shortstop of the Boston Red Sox, Xander Bogaerts.
(Applause.) And San Diego Padres terrific closer, Kirby. Kirby good to see you. We're going to have a conversation with these honorees. Harold?
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Start with the hometown team I guess. You know, the Padres are hosting this thing. We got Kirby Yates over here. How are you doing?
KIRBY YATES: I'm good. Thanks for having me.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: What do you think about first team?
KIRBY YATES: Pretty cool. I'm trying to get used to this. It's all new for me.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: I saw you at the All-Star game this year, and the first thing that stands out is your stature. We see guys 6'4" throwing the ball on the mound. How are you able to do this at your size, to be able to complete at this level and be as good as you are?
KIRBY YATES: I never thought size was an issue. If you can ball, you can ball. I always went out there and tried to play to the best of my abilities and go out there and compete at the highest level. I think when you go out there and you have the capability to do it, after it's all said and done, it comes down to people being able to play.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: That's why baseball is so great, anybody can play. Anybody 6'5" like Greg and me. It's awesome.
Xander Bogaerts, what's up?
XANDER BOGAERTS: Good.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: You speak five language, right?
XANDER BOGAERTS: Four, I think.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: When you are around Papi it's five, because that's trash. That's cool coming from Curacel. The island has produced great players. What has been the turnaround from what you guys have been able to the in the Big Leagues?
XANDER BOGAERTS: I'm from Aruba, not Curacel. Most of the guys from Curacel. And since nine years old me and my brother have been playing, and it's fun to be in the Big Leagues and seeing those guys at the young age and being able to compete with them at the big level.
GREG AMSINGER: What does this honor mean to you, first team, short shop?
XANDER BOGAERTS: I know, right? We have a lot of great short stops in the game. It's obviously an honor to be number one, and I'm blessed for that.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: I was going to say, Marcus over here was in the finals of the MVP of the American League, and here you are sitting here first team. Does this validate the season you put together?
XANDER BOGAERTS: I would say so. Personal standpoint I think I did pretty good. Not good enough to help the team win enough games, but I think I did pretty much all that I could have done.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Fantastic. Yasmani Grandal, what's up big fella.
YASMANI GRANDAL: What's going on?
HAROLD REYNOLDS: You gambled last year yourself, you said I'm going to go do it. This year you signed a big contract. Did you feel pressure going into it knowing that you bet on yourself?
YASMANI GRANDAL: Not really. I think I was out to prove a point, and I felt like I was in the right spot at the right time. Just letting things kinda fall, and we ended up having a really good season. Thank God I had the teammates that I had to keep me loose. That's the reason we are here now.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: I feel Greg asking him what it means to him to be part of this team. It's interesting. We're sitting back there, I don't know if you guys are first team, second team, or whatever, and you're like, to be here is an honor. Express to everybody what this means to be sitting in this chair right now.
YASMANI GRANDAL: For me it means I need to work harder. (Chuckles.)
HAROLD REYNOLDS: You want to be first team?
YASMANI GRANDAL: No. The fact that I get to be here with you guys, and there is a lot of talent in the Big Leagues and they made two teams where a lot of guys could have been there, you know. I think that's one of the things that we need to have more, and that's one of the things we started. That's why we're here today.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Awesome, man. Marcus Semien, I tell you, man, I look at what you've done the last five, six years and I'm so proud of how you turned your career around. Could you have seen that coming?
MARCUS SEMIEN: I think that's what we work toward. It's cool that MLB has put this team together and they have allowed the writers and fan to vote. It's different than any other thing, so just to be here and represent the Oakland A's and celebrate a great season, not only for our team, but for myself, has been great.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: I was surprised. No knock on Xander, but you're MVP, one of the top three, and then you end up on the second team. Did that surprise you? I know Yasmani Grandal said I'm just cool to be on the team, but your thoughts?
MARCUS SEMIEN: You look at Xander's numbers, everybody's numbers, everybody is fully capable. Xander hit over 300 more RBIs. There are different things that people may look at, but I think what you saw out of both of us was a guy who showed up every day ready to play and to produce for their team.
That's the type of role model I want to be for my guys and for younger players out there.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: You know, in the middle of the season, we had you on MLB tonight, and I remember Greg talking with you about WAR and WAR seems to be a big thing with the writers today. He asked you, do you recognize that, understand that? And your answer was quite interesting. Why don't you give an answer to how you started looking at WAR compared to your performance.
MARCUS SEMIEN: I think once I got into the lead-off spot and I started scoring more runs, I saw runs scoring very important, walks, getting on base, extra base hits, all these things I improved on this year. And, of course, the defense is a big part, too. Balls that you get to, balls that you don't.
At the shortstop position it's a nice cumulative stat and it's good for the writers and the fans to, you know, see what we produce every day. So it's a cool, cool stat.
GREG AMSINGER: Yordan doesn't have to worry about that. Yordan Alvarez, second team all-rookie. What does this mean to you?
YORDAN ALVAREZ: (Through interpreter) First of all, I feel really happy and fortunate to be here. Since it was my rookie year and the fact that I'm sitting here with all of my teammates means even more. It's exactly what I worked for, exactly what I had dreamed for and worked this hard to get here.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Ask him if he can speak as loud as when he hit the ball on the train so they can hear him back there. (Chuckles.)
What was the biggest challenge for you as you adjusted to your rookie season?
YORDAN ALVAREZ: (Through interpreter) I would say that one of the biggest challenges was feeling -- midway through the season, accountability, seeing that my manager trusted me, my teammates trusted me. So the fact that I needed to go out and perform it was good pressure, but it was definitely challenging to feel that in the middle of my rookie year.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Last thing, and then turn back to Greg. During the World Series we got a chance to spend time and talk a lot, and you made it clear to me you want to play the outfield. You like DH, and it was okay, but you want to play the outfield. Can you give us a sense of what I'm talking about here?
YORDAN ALVAREZ: (Through interpreter) This off-season I spend my time as DH as we all know, but I'm spending time off-season and would like the opportunity to be able to spend more time in the outfield.
GREG AMSINGER: That's great. We look forward to watching you do that.
Kirby, what do you think of the accolade being created and how it's going to grow within the player community to be a first-team All-MLB player? That's on your resume forever.
KIRBY YATES: Yeah, it's pretty cool. Players start piling up the accolades, they get excited. This is just one more to go along with the end-of-the-year awards, along with the MVP, CY Young, and all that.
The All-Star game is great. It's fun. But it's half season, and you get rewarded for an entire season and that's great.
GREG AMSINGER: Xander, I envision you walking around, First team right here!
XANDER BOGAERTS: We had a lot of guys on our team obviously that were capable of being on that list, so many good players on our team, and obviously we are thankful for the coaching staff and manager. Obviously Alex has backed us in a big way since he's been over there. And as he said, it's nice to be rewarded for the whole season instead of just halfway through the season with the All-Star game.
GREG AMSINGER: And Yas, you have been rewarded a couple times through the off-season. Is this the best ever?
YASMANI GRANDAL: By far.
GREG AMSINGER: Your family must be really happy for you.
YASMANI GRANDAL: Best season was probably after '17, after I had my baby boy. But, yeah, this has probably been the second best. Being able to spend time with the family, and just wait for calls, I guess.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: So I wanted to ask you, you played with Christian Yelich, with Bellinger; you played with some great players.
Who do you feel like is at the top of their game in the Big Leagues?
GREG AMSINGER: He's essentially saying who is better?
HAROLD REYNOLDS: No. I'm saying as you see the game developing, which guys have even more growth? Tell us about those players.
YASMANI GRANDAL: I always knew that Belly was going to -- he had the potential to be best player in the league. I mean, when you think about defense, he can run, he can hit for power, he can hit for average. This guy is unbelievable, great arm.
And then, you know, I started playing with Yelich, and he started doing the same things that I can only look at Michael Saugus and laugh. And obviously we know Trout is going to be at the top of the list. But when you are talking about those two, I think they're going to be battling for the number one spot at some point.
It's going to be just them two. I think it's going to be for a long time.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Marcus, you played in the same division as Trout, and I actually looked at your breakdowns. The swings are similar. We follow top players and certain things from them. What stands out when you think about Mike Trout -- you got to play against him 19 times, not including Spring Training. What do you see in Mike Trout?
MARCUS SEMIEN: First thing I see is a guy who controls the strike zone and a guy who doesn't get much pitches to hit. He has speed. You have to keep him off the bases. He knows that. Last year he took a lot of first pitches, and this year his home runs went up because he started hitting at the first pitch a little bit.
The league is trying to figure him out. The A's, we do okay against him, but he has hit us plenty of times. For me I made adjustments this year that I think will help me moving forward with my approach and my stance, so it's good to go into the off-season working on the same thing.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: And you're healthy. You had that injury for a -- a couple of years ago, and that took you out. You were on a good run then. What did you do to rehab and get back into shape and get to where you are now?
MARCUS SEMIEN: That was a wrist injury. As a hitter it's a tough one. 2017, a broken wrist. You gotta get your strength back as a hitter. In '18 it took me a little bit to get it back, but this year I felt like it was back.
GREG AMSINGER: Congratulations, Marcus; Yordan, thank you for coming; Yasmani Grandal, Xander, Kirby, thank you for being here. Another round of applause for the All-MLB teams presented bu Scotts.
(Applause.) Photo ops with the players coming up now.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports