Former Bama catcher selected as starter for MLB All-Star game

With Sunday's announcement of the rosters for the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, former University of Alabama catcher Alex Avila has been named the starting catcher for the American League squad.

"Alex continues to make the UA family proud, and we're excited with his selection to this year's MLB All-Star Game," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "He has tremendous passion and skill to play the game of baseball as shown with him being selected as one of the best players at the major league level. We are extremely proud of Alex."

Avila, who played for Alabama from 2006-08, becomes the first UA player since 1961 to play in the Midsummer Classic. This season, Avila his hitting .299 through 68 games for the Detroit Tigers, with 10 home runs and 46 RBI. Alabama has had 62 players make it to the major leagues and Avila becomes the third UA player to be selected as an All-Star. Avila will be the first UA player to start in a MLB All-Star Game.

With Minnesota's Joe Mauer missing significant time due to injury, Avila became a first-time All-Star, edging out the Yankees' Russell Martin despite trailing throughout the voting process.

"It's been exciting the last few weeks just being in the conversation," Avila said. "The excitement from the rest of my teammates and the fans, the way they've supported me and campaigned on my behalf, that's been special."

Luke Sewell (Chicago White Sox) and Frank Lary (Detroit Tigers) were the only other Alabama baseball players that earned selections to the Midsummer Classic. Sewell was the first Crimson Tide player selected to a MLB All-Star Game in 1937, while Lary is the only UA player with multiple appearances, in 1960 and 1961. Avila becomes the first UA player to earn a MLB All-Star selection in 50 years.

The 2011 MLB All-Star game will be played on July 12, 2011 at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. First pitch for the 82nd annual Midsummer Classic is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.

INFORMATION SOURCE: University of Alabama Athletics