For the first time in his career, Kevin Frandsen will play in a AAA All-Star Game this year after being selected to represent the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in this year's game, which will be held July 11 in Buffalo. Frandsen joked about the honor and wasn't afraid to let it be known that it was the first time he was selected to an all-star team other than in the Arizona Fall League.
While Frandsen isn't a veteran of all-star games, he is the type of player that could help a major league team. He's played in the majors with San Francisco and with the Angels, holding a .243 career average in 228 major league games. In 2008, Frandsen may have been in position to truly show what he could do to help a major league team when Omar Vizquel went down with an injury and Frandsen was named the team's opening day - and until Vizquel returned - everyday shortstop. Only problem was that Frandsen got hurt in that opening day game, suffering a torn Achilles, the same injury that has kept Ryan Howard out of the Phillies lineup since he suffered the injury last October. In Frandsen's case, it caused him to miss the opportunity of playing everyday. Instead, his 2008 season with the Giants consisted of just that one game and the 0-for-1 performance that he posted.
Now, at 30 years of age, Kevin Frandsen is a different player. He's gotten more major league experience, but he's also spent a lot more time in the minors and has learned a lot about the game of baseball. "I don't think I could help a major league team, I know that I could help a major league team. The last couple of years, I've felt more and more that I'm really ready to play at that level and contribute," said Frandsen, who last played in the majors with the Angels in 2010. In his time with AAA Lehigh Valley covering last season and this season, Frandsen has hit .296 and has been a regular in the IronPigs lineup.
"He's hard to take out of the lineup," admitted Pigs manager Ryne Sandberg. "Just when you think he might need a day off, he'll go out and get a bunch of hits and you know you don't want to sit him down then." This season, Frandsen has started in 51 straight games and has appeared in 62 straight games with the IronPigs.
This season, Frandsen started the year 0-for-21 and finished the first month of the season with just a .197 average. Since then, Frandsen has hit safely in 38 of his last 54 games and is hitting at a .323 clip with 20 multi-hit games, including getting hits in six straight at-bats, tying an IronPigs franchise record. Even early on, Frandsen was hitting the ball hard, but just wasn't getting hits to drop in for him. "There was one road trip where I thought I could have had at least seven or eight hits, but I was hitting the ball right at guys," remembers Frandsen. "I never lost confidence though, because I know I can hit."
When you watch Frandsen on the field, he's easy to spot with his bright red and yellow cleats. They cause fans to ask why he wears the flashy shoes, but it's nothing even remotely resembling a fashion statement. Instead, it's to pay tribute to his brother, D.J., who passed away from cancer in 2004. D.J. fought cancer for 19 years. A good friend of the Frandsen family was former major league pitcher Dave Righetti, who wore the number 19 and gave it to Frandsen when he reached the majors. The recurring number 19 and the brave way that D.J. fought cancer led the Frandsen family to form a foundation; "19 For Life," which is dedicated to carrying out the things that D.J. Frandsen believed in, like giving back, making a difference and never giving up.
Frandsen's shoes, made for him by Nike, feature DJ on the back of the shoe and the words "Go The Distance" on the inside of one soul and "Never Give Up" on the other. Frandsen has those same words tattooed around his left wrist. "When you're dealing with something like that [cancer], you have to go the distance," explained Frandsen. "You can never give up."