Cook named to A.L. All-Star team; Reddick left out

ARLINGTON — A’s righty Ryan Cook’s birthday celebration continued in a memorable way Sunday, when the rookie reliever was named to the American League All-Star team.

Cook, who turned 25 on Saturday, was handpicked by A.L. manager Ron Washington for the July 10 game in Kansas City, after turning in an incredible performance over Oakland’s first 79 games in his first full professional season.

The hard-throwing right-hander entered the day with a 0.97 WHIP and 1.59 ERA, which is tied for eighth among all A.L. relievers. His .109 opponents’ average ranks second, as does his opponents’ slugging percentage (.164), and he has not allowed a home run in 34 innings.

Originally a 27th-round Draft pick by the D-backs in 2008, Cook has surely done his part for his newest team, following a trade that sent him to the A’s alongside Jarrod Parker and Collin Cowgill for All-Star hurler Trevor Cahill during the offseason.

He quietly earned a bullpen spot out of Spring Training and managed to string together 23 consecutive scoreless innings, marking the longest scoreless streak to start a season by an A’s pitcher on the Opening Day roster since at least 1918. In the 13 outings that have followed, Cook has allowed runs on just two occasions.

Progressively entrusted with pivotal eighth-inning situations in a setup role, Cook is now viewed as the team’s closer, ahead of veterans Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes.

The A’s are among four teams to not have anyone picked in the players’ or fans’ votes, and this marks the ninth straight year they have been represented at baseball’s Midsummer Classic by pitchers, after outfielder Josh Reddick was left out of the mix despite his 18 home runs. Catcher Ramon Hernandez was the last A’s position player to earn the nod in 2003.

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