Gators in MLB: Rays' catcher Mike Zunino named to All-Star team

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Tampa Bay Rays' Mike Zunino singles in a run against the Kansas City Royals during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

Tampa Bay catcher and former University of Florida standout Mike Zunino was elected Sunday as a reserve for the July 13 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Denver’s Coors Field.

A first-time All-Star in his ninth Major League season, the 30-year-old Zunino was chosen by his peers, voted in as a player selection, as the only catcher behind fan-elected starter Salvador Perez.

“It was special just to see the genuine excitement from the other guys,” Zunino told the team's website. “It means a lot to me. I think one of the biggest messages (Rays manager Kevin Cash) Cashy pounds home is to be a good teammate, and to see those guys excited and just the congratulations, it's special.”

His power (18 home runs) and excellent defense behind the plate have made him one of the Rays’ most valuable players.