Peter Schmuck: Jordan Westburg handles All-Star snub with class and then gets invited after all - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Peter Schmuck

Peter Schmuck: Jordan Westburg handles All-Star snub with class and then gets invited after all

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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BALTIMORE–All you need to know about the maturity of Orioles second-year third baseman Jordan Westburg is that I was more upset about him being left off the American League All-Star team than he was.

Fortunately, the planets aligned on Tuesday and a slot opened up for him to join Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman and Corbin Burnes at Globe Life Field for the Midseason Classic.

Westburg is having a terrific season in what is really his first full year in the major leagues, but he’s no rookie and he proves that on a daily basis with more than just an impressive .281/.348/.506/.854 slash line.

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The guy knows how to play, and he knows how to handle success and disappointment like someone who spent way more than 10 months of his life in the 20th century.

Before word came down that a wrong had been righted and he was rewarded for his strong first half, Westburg showed during a pregame press scrum on Tuesday how an impressive young player can turn a negative into a positive display of that maturity. Not that any of it came as a surprise to his manager.

“He just does everything right,’’ said manager Brandon Hyde. “He literally does everything right. The way he prepares. The way he plays.”

Hyde immediately had the perfect example of that to pull from the Orioles’ 19-8 loss to the Oakland A’s on Saturday.

“We just had a hitters’ meeting and I thought it was awesome that our hitting guys recognized this,’’ he said. “We’re down 12-0 in the fourth. Jordan’s at first base and [Ryan Mountcastle] hits a base hit to right field and Westy goes first to third. That sets up Austin Hays for a sac fly,  gets an RBI for a teammate. That sets up the bottom part of the order with guys on base.

“It just epitomizes who he is. He just plays. The right way. So hard. Prepares incredibly well. He just does everything right. Even the media stuff.”

That glowing assessment was set up by a question about the way Westburg responded when he was asked how it felt to be left on the curb when the All-Star reserves were announced after being a finalist at third base in the fan voting.

“There are a lot of good players in this league,’’ Westburg said, “and so, just to be in those conversations I’m very honored. I felt blessed. Is it disappointing? Certainly, I don’t know how many times I’m going to get that opportunity during my career, but at the end of the day I’m not going to live or die by that decision.”

If it were me, I would have been shouting from the rooftop of the Warehouse about the fact that my team should have been better represented in Arlington next week. Just three Orioles appeared set to go from a team that won 101 games last year and entered this week with the best record in the American League.

By comparison, the Philadelphia Phillies were rewarded for having the best record in either league with seven players on the NL team and the Cleveland Guardians, who have a comparable record to the O’s at the top of the AL Central standings, got five.

This could have easily played into the “no respect” complex that Baltimore fans have suffered with for the past decade or so. Remember when the Orioles won more regular-season games than any other American League team for a five-year period under Buck Showalter and Fangraphs stubbornly predicted they would finish under .500 in four of them?

Well, while this wasn’t that, it was still galling, but Westburg didn’t join in my whine-fest and maybe his positive outlook received a karmic payback a couple hours later. He would celebrate the late All-Star invitation with a home run Tuesday night, but the O’s still suffered a lopsided 9-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Oriole Park.

“I get that side and, yes, I was a little surprised,” Westburg said before being told he was on the team after all. “There are a lot of guys that deserve it in this clubhouse, but there’s also a lot of guys in other clubhouses that deserve it, too.”

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