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Cubs’ Aramis Ramirez turns down All-Star invite

PITTSBURGH PA - JULY 10:  Aramis Ramirez #16 Chicago Cubs throws first base against Pittsburgh Pirates during game July

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 10: Aramis Ramirez #16 of the Chicago Cubs throws to first base against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on July 10, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\118750800.jpg

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Updated: July 11, 2011 2:09AM

PITTSBURGH — Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez declined an opportunity for a third career All-Star selection Sunday, choosing to stick with plans that already were in motion to travel home to the ­Dominican Republic with his family for the break.

‘‘It was the last day, so I already have plans for my family,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s just too late.’’

A third-base spot opened on the National League roster when elected starter Placido Polanco of the Philadelphia Phillies was scratched because of a sore back. NL manager Bruce Bochy selected Ramirez to replace Polanco and contacted the Cubs on Sunday.

Ramirez finished the first half hitting .298 with 15 home runs and 51 RBI — numbers that far exceed most major-league third basemen.

‘‘If [they asked Saturday], probably,’’ Ramirez said of accepting. ‘‘It gives you a day to [adjust]. But I show up this morning, and they told me. No chance. I couldn’t make it.’’

His family already has traveled from Chicago to the Dominican.

‘‘It’s tough,’’ said Cubs manager Mike Quade, who lobbied for Ramirez when it looked like a roster spot might open. ‘‘It’s a great ­honor, but you get that call [at the last minute], and you’ve got that three days with family [planned]. I understand.’’

After Ramirez’s decision, Bochy tabbed his own Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants for the spot.

‘‘What would an All-Star Game be without a Panda?’’ Quade quipped.

Shortstop Starlin Castro remains the Cubs’ lone All-Star, with Quade along as a member of Bochy’s coaching staff.

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