BOSTON -- Bill Criswell of Windermere, Fla., is the Rays' winner for PEOPLE magazine's "All-Stars Among Us" campaign, which debuted in 2009 and recognizes individuals who are serving their communities in extraordinary ways.
The 30 "All-Stars Among Us," one representing each MLB club, will attend and be honored during the pregame ceremony of the All-Star Game on July 13 on FOX beginning at 8 p.m. ET. In addition, one of the winners will be featured in the July 19th issue of PEOPLE, which hits newsstands during the week of the All-Star Game.
Fans across the nation cast 1.7 million votes -- more than double the amount of votes from the previous year -- at PeopleAllStars.com to select the 30 "All-Stars Among Us" winners out of the pool of 90 finalists who are serving as leaders within their communities.
Criswell established "Home at Last" to give U.S. soldiers injured in Iraq a fresh start in life by giving them mortgage-free homes. Thus far two homes have been completed with construction on a third beginning Thursday. As project chairman, Criswell organizes and coordinates the fundraising, candidate's application process, construction team, media coverage, dedication ceremony and the closing for the family.
"Major League Baseball is privileged to recognize this team of 'All-Stars' whose selfless and tireless work is making a significant impact within communities across the nation," said MLB Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "Together with PEOPLE magazine, we look forward to using the All-Star Game, the premiere sporting event of the summer, as a platform to honor to these 30 winners and their worthy causes.
The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Upton sits, but not for disciplinary reasons
BOSTON -- B.J. Upton was not in the starting lineup in Tuesday night's 8-5 loss to the Red Sox, but Rays manager Joe Maddon said the move was not made as a disciplinary action.
"I just did not want to start him tonight based on a lot of different items that I'm looking at," Maddon said. "Often times, I don't start somebody. A day off after a day off is part of the reason. I just chose not to start him tonight. But he's definitely available for the game."
That proved to be the case, as Upton entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and tripled, then trotted out to center field for the ninth.
Upton and Evan Longoria had words during Sunday's loss to the D-backs after Upton did not run hard after a ball hit to the outfield.
"We've had a lot of conversations lately," Maddon said. "We had one after the game [Sunday]. We had one yesterday and also today. We had some wonderful conversations -- very frank. I just wanted to share with him some of my past experiences as a young man and as a manager today.
"He's a wonderful young man. That's the thing I don't want to get lost in all of this. B.J. is really, really one of my favorite people. This is a good guy. And I think sometimes it's interpreted the other way. [There's] not a malicious bone in his body -- wonderful young man, we've talked things through and everything is fine."
Upton said before the game he is ready to put the incident behind him and move on.
"I'll be ready to come off the bench," Upton said. "I'll be ready to go -- no big deal."
Upton would not go into details about his conversation with Maddon, noting only: "[We] just cleared the air. We both came to an agreement and we'll just move on."
Upton did speak to the team prior to the game.
"He just apologized, that's it," Carl Crawford said. "It's cool."
Blalock designated for assignment by Rays
BOSTON -- The Rays designated Hank Blalock for assignment after Tuesday night's game to make room for Gabe Kapler, who will be activated from the 15-day disabled list.
Kapler (right hip flexor strain) spent the weekend playing for Class A Charlotte, and he will be with the team for Wednesday night's game against the Red Sox.
Blalock handled the news with class and professionalism.
"I try not to think about possible roster moves that might happen in the future," Blalock said. "If you think like that, then you're not being a good teammate for that day. So everyone knew that Kap was getting ready to come off the DL, and they told me that I was going to be the one the roster move was made for.
"Hopefully there will be a team that wants me to play for them. ... I'm not sure how the designated for assignment or released thing works out, or whatever. I'll fly back to Tampa and pack my stuff up and go be with my family in San Diego, and we'll see if there's another team that wants me."
Blalock has spoken on several occasions about how much he enjoyed playing alongside the group of players the Rays have on their roster.
"This is such a high-energy team, and there's so much emotion on this team that this team is capable of winning the World Series," Blalock said.
Blalock saw limited duty, hitting .254 with a home run and seven RBIs in 63 at-bats for the Rays.
"Every part-time player wishes he could play on a more consistent basis," Blalock said. "But my role that was explained to me when they brought me up [from Triple-A Durham] a couple of months ago was that I was going to be a part-time DH kind of thing. So I kind of just accepted that, tried to do whatever I could to help the team win when I was in there. That's it."
Rays manager Joe Maddon called Blalock "a real pro."
"I thought he did a great job for us in our clubhouse," Maddon said. "His work ethic is spectacular. And I really wish I had a longer time to work with this fellow, because he's really an interesting young man and he works and he really loves to play this game. The at-bats weren't going to be there and the opportunities weren't going to be there, and that's unfortunate. But he made a really good impression on all of us."
Crawford back in lineup against Red Sox
BOSTON -- While B.J. Upton was out of the lineup Tuesday night, Carl Crawford, who has been nursing a sore left shoulder, was back in the lineup against the Red Sox.
"I'm going to try and play and do everything I normally do," Crawford said. "We rehabbed it for a few days. And I think this is the only way I'm going to be able to test it is by getting the live game experience. So I'm going to try and test it out today and hopefully have no setbacks."
Crawford said his shoulder is a little bit sore and noted it probably will remain so for a while.
"I think the quicker I get out there and get used to how it's going to be all the time, then the better," Crawford said.
Crawford said he was encouraged about how much improvement the shoulder has made, though.
"I hit today, so that felt really good, so if anything, I can DH," Crawford said. "I'm happy about that. So we'll just have to go from there."
Crawford left Thursday's game against the Padres after two innings and did not play during the Rays' three-game series against the D-backs over the weekend.
Maddon said Crawford wanted to play.
"I'm not quite sure [if he's 100-percent healthy]," Maddon said. "But he insisted he was well enough to play."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.