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A.J. Pierzynski doesn’t think he’ll win ‘popularity contest’ for All-Star spot

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is hit by pitch from White Sox starter Jake Peavy fifth inning Saturday. | Mike Stobe~Getty

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is hit by a pitch from White Sox starter Jake Peavy in the fifth inning Saturday. | Mike Stobe~Getty Images

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Updated: August 2, 2012 10:42AM

NEW YORK — Catcher A.J. Pierzynski is having an All-Star-caliber season, and he knows it. He’s also pretty sure he won’t go to the All-Star Game on July 10 in Kansas City, Mo.

‘‘It’s the ultimate personal reward as a player to be voted as an All-Star, to go there and enjoy the game,’’ Pierzynski said Saturday. ‘‘At the same time, I know how it works. It’s a popularity contest, and I know I’m probably not going to win it and I’m not going to go.’’

Pierzynski leads major-league catchers with 45 RBI. He’s second with 14 home runs (four shy of his career high) and fifth with a .285 batting average. He was an All-Star in 2002 and 2006 but would treasure this one because his two children are now old enough to experience it.

‘‘I think I deserve it,’’ Pierzynski said. ‘‘But if not, it’s OK.’’

Starters, reserves, pitchers and the five Final Vote candidates for the last spot on each All-Star team will be announced Sunday.

‘‘I’d love to go, but I know how it works,’’ Pierzynski said. ‘‘I know how the votes go. The fans vote and they pick who they pick, and the players get the second vote. As we know, in every publication, I usually don’t win those players’ votes — except for the other things. But it’s fine.’’

Pierzynski was voted the most hated player in baseball in a Men’s Journal survey of 100 players that came out June 13.

Rios eyes playoffs

Outfielder Alex Rios, an All-Star in 2006 and 2007 who is batting .306 with 10 homers, 48 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 16 attempts, said he doesn’t care whether he plays in the All-Star Game.

‘‘If I can help the team win and get to where we want go, that’s going to be my All-Star,’’ Rios said. ‘‘I’ve never been to the playoffs before, and I would enjoy that so much. It would make my year.’’

Manager Robin Ventura said Pierzynski, Rios, first baseman Paul Konerko and designated hitter Adam Dunn are worthy of All-Star consideration, along with pitchers Chris Sale and
Jake Peavy.

Humber off to rehab

Right-hander Philip Humber, who is on the disabled list with what he calls a strained right forearm, left for his rehab assignment Sunday for Class AAA Charlotte in Gwinnett, Ga. He said he wasn’t sure when he would be back with the Sox.

‘‘That’s out of my pay grade now,’’ Humber said. ‘‘I don’t really know. I’m just taking it one day at a time. [Trainer] Hermie [Schneider] is in charge in the training room.’’

Schneider has been busy, with Humber, left-hander John Danks and right-hander Brian Bruney on the DL and right-hander Jesse Crain trying to avoid it.

Pitching for a cause

Peavy contributed $100 to cancer research for every strikeout in the majors Saturday in honor of former San Diego Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds, who died of pancreatic cancer last Sunday. Peavy had 11 strikeouts Saturday. Yankees pitchers struck out 13 Sox.

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