CLEVELAND -- Though the primary focus of next week's Midsummer Classic will be devoted to the top players in the Majors, a portion of the publicity will be dedicated to a group of Americans truly worthy of celebration.
Before the 84th All-Star Game at Citi Field begins on Tuesday, 30 veterans and military service members -- one for each club -- will be recognized in a pregame ceremony as part of the Tribute for Heroes campaign, a national initiative organized by Major League Baseball and People magazine. On Wednesday, the winners were announced, with World War II veteran Raymond T. Matwich chosen as the Indians' representative.
A resident of Leavittsburg, Ohio, Matwich is a 92-year-old Army vet who guarded the door to the war room where the plans for Operation Dragoon -- the invasion of south France -- were put together. Following the end of the war, Matwich received five Battle Stars and was discharged as a Corporal.
The 30 winners were decided by fan voting. They came from a pool of 90 finalists, who were chosen by the league, the magazine and a panel that featured two retired generals and seven players, including Indians first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher.
"It's so nice to be able to put the spotlight on them and to let everybody know who the real heroes are," Swisher said. "For people that do things like that, I don't know if I could do something like that. The pride that I have for people like that, it's just amazing."
In addition to being recognized before the All-Star Game, the 30 winners will take part in other festivities during the week, such as a private tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, a VIP reception on the Intrepid, the All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet and the Chevrolet Home Run Derby.
McAllister slated for rehab outing on Saturday
CLEVELAND -- It's been more than a month since Indians right-hander Zach McAllister pitched in a professional baseball game.
On Saturday, he'll return to the mound in a rehab start with Double-A Akron, the club announced on Wednesday. The outing will be McAllister's first since June 2, when he lost to the Rays at home. The right-hander has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 3 with a right middle finger sprain, which prevented him from throwing breaking balls against Tampa Bay.
Though McAllister won't snap off any hooks on Saturday, he's been able to do so in bullpen sessions and on flat ground. If everything goes well, he'll incorporate breaking balls in his next rehab outing.
"Everything has gone great," said Tribe manager Terry Francona, who thinks McAllister is capable of lasting about four innings on Saturday. "Anybody that's been around him for two seconds, you see what kind of kid he is. He's about as diligent as you can be. And no, there's no ill-effects from anything he's done throwing."
McAllister has perhaps been the most consistent pitcher in the Indians' rotation. In 11 outings this season, he's 4-5 with a 3.43 ERA. Over 65 2/3 total innings, McAllister has issued 22 walks and 45 strikeouts.
Salazar primed for his Major League debut
CLEVELAND -- Shortly after finishing up a card game with Indians catcher Carlos Santana on Wednesday, right-hander Danny Salazar moved over to his new locker to take questions from reporters, all of whom wanted to learn a little more about the kid on the verge of his Major League debut.
A day earlier, Tribe manager Terry Francona announced that Salazar would be called up from Triple-A Columbus to start in Thursday's series finale against Toronto. In 10 games with the Clippers, Salazar went 3-2 with a 3.40 ERA. Across 42 1/3 innings, the 23-year-old tallied 13 walks and 49 strikeouts.
"I'm ready for this," said Salazar, the Tribe's No. 8 prospect according to MLB.com. "I've been practicing a lot. I've been working hard every day and waiting for this moment."
Salazar has had two Spring Training experiences, but he's never pitched in a Major League game that counted. He began the season with Double-A Akron, where he went 2-3 with a 2.67 ERA over seven starts.
"When I got called up to Triple-A, it was exciting, too" Salazar said. "I just thought to myself, 'OK, you're getting there. Step by step.'"
Francona said the organization brought Salazar to Cleveland a day before his start to help with the transition. This way, he can get a glimpse of Toronto's lineup and get all greetings out of the way early.
"He'll stick around for four or five innings and then get out of here like most guys do," the skipper said before Wednesday's game. "And if he has any brains at all, he probably won't sleep a wink. And he'll probably tell everybody tomorrow he did.
"This is just another step for him -- and a big one -- and hopefully he helps us get a win."
Quote to note
"He's a little bit like Michael Brantley in the batting order. Cody, we've kind of pitched him all over, and he's very valuable because he can come in, he throws strikes, he can get swing and miss, and he competes. Especially for a young kid, the game rarely speeds up on him, and that will only get better with experience. But he's done a terrific job. He's just going to get better."
-- Francona, on reliever Cody Allen.
• The Indians' 4-2 loss to Detroit on Monday, which was televised by SportsTime Ohio, received an 8.5 household rating, the club's best mark since Opening Day. The finale of the recent four-game series against the Tigers was also the highest-rated non-opener for Cleveland since Aug. 31, 2011, when the Tribe beat Oakland, 4-3, in 16 innings.
Following Tuesday's 3-0 win over Toronto, the Indians' season-average rating on SportsTime Ohio is up 10 percent, when compared to the first 86 telecasts of 2012.
• In Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays, Cleveland faced right-hander Esmil Rogers, who was traded to Toronto in November in exchange for Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes. In 2012, Rogers made 44 relief appearances for the Tribe, going 3-1 with a 3.06 ERA.
• Tuesday's shutout of the Blue Jays was Cleveland's 11th team shutout of 2013, which trails only Pittsburgh's 12 for the most in baseball. The Indians haven't recorded 11 shutouts in a season since coming away with 13 in 2008. The last Indians team to reach as many shutouts in its first 90 games was the '68 club, which had 17 shutouts in that span.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.