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‘Deserving’ Vazquez finally gets All-Star call

In a case of better late than never, Felipe Vazquez is headed to his second straight All-Star Game.

Major League Baseball announced Saturday that Vazquez has been added to the National League squad for Tuesday night's game at Progressive Field in Cleveland. He is an injury replacement for Brewers closer Josh Haderwho is listed as day-to-day with a sore lower back.

"It's a little late but I'll take it," Vazquez said with a smile after the Pirates beat the Brewers 12-2 on Saturday night at PNC Park.

Clint Hurdle was thrilled to give Vazquez the news before the game, which he did out on the field one-on-one.

"It was fantastic. I felt he was deserving the entire way," Hurdle said. "I think it's a good fit (for the NL) and he's well-deserving."

Vazquez gives the Pirates two All-Stars as first baseman Josh Bell was selected last Sunday. He is likely to be the NL's starting designated hitter.

Bell will also participate in the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night, which has Vazquez excited.

"Last year, I didn't have any teammates in it so I cheered for everybody," Vazquez said. "It'll be good to have Josh there. I'll hand him a Gatorade or something (between rounds). I'm going to be there for him."

Upon the rosters' initial release, Vazquez's name was nowhere to be found, as Will Smith, Kirby Yates and Hader held down the initial relief pitcher roster spots.

In 2019, Vazquez has tallied 19 saves, tied for fifth in the NL, while posting a 2.19 ERA and a 1.135 WHIP to accompany 59 strikeouts in 37 innings of work. Since 2017, he's recorded 77 saves, the third-most among NL pitchers. Only Kenley Jansen (102) and Wade Davis (87) have more. This season, Vazquez is 19 for 20 in save opportunities, converting his first 14 cleanly before blowing a save on June 1, when he allowed two earned runs in a 12-10 loss to the Brewers.

With Vazquez's participation, the Pirates have now sent multiple players to the All-Star Game in seven of the past nine seasons.

Vazquez made his first All-Star Game appearance last year in Washington. He's just as eager about participating again.

"It will pretty much be the same schedule, so I'll be able to relax and know what time I'll have to be everywhere," he said. "I think it'll be more fun this time because I'll know what to do."

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