Fans select Okajima to All-Stars


BOSTON (AP) – Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima was added to the American League All-Star roster Thursday night as the winner of the 32nd man Internet vote, giving Boston a leading six players in the game.

The voting ended at 6 p.m., and the results were released shortly before the start of Boston’s game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. When the announcement was put on the scoreboard during the sixth inning, Okajima got a standing ovation from the fans and his teammates.

He removed his cap, waved with both hands, and bowed repeatedly in each direction.

Okajima received 4.3 million votes in four days to beat Detroit starter Jeremy Bonderman, Minnesota reliever Pat Neshek, Los Angeles Angels starter Kelvim Escobar and Toronto starter Roy Halladay.

Red Sox pitchers Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon were already named to the roster for Tuesday’s game in San Francisco, along with third baseman Mike Lowell and sluggers Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz.

It’s the first time that the Red Sox have ever had more than two pitchers at the All-Star game.

Okajima is 2-0 with a 0.88 ERA and four saves in 38 relief appearances this season. He is the sixth native of Japan to be selected for the All-Star game and the ninth Red Sox rookie; Okajima played 12 years in Japan before making his U.S. major league debut this season.

Okajima is the third Red Sox player to win the Internet voting, joining Johnny Damon (2002) and Jason Varitek (’03).