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Lindor hopes to open eyes as All-Star Ambassador

By RYAN LEWIS • Jul 6, 2019 at 1:00 PM

CLEVELAND — As is the case with many who visit Cleveland but didn't grow up in Northeast Ohio, Francisco Lindor's experience in the 216 area code has been an eye-opening one with unexpected results.

And that is something Lindor hopes to share as a 2019 All-Star ambassador for Cleveland, a title he holds alongside Sandy Alomar Jr. and Jim Thome. All-Star ambassadors are tasked with representing their respective city, its players and its fans ahead of the All-Star Game.

"It's a blessing and an honor," Lindor said of his ambassadorship. "I want to show how good the people in Cleveland are, all the good restaurants, the different things that we have here to do. I know there's not that many things to do, but the things that are here, are pretty cool. It's a great city, and it's not as loud as other cities."

But, really, it's also about Cleveland's food scene, of which the 25-year-old superstar shortstop can't get enough.

"No doubt," he said when asked if he was surprised by it when he came to Cleveland. "There's a few things I didn't expect, like all the cool steakhouses in the area that I love [Marble Room, he says, is No. 1]. They've got Little Italy — that's pretty cool, some great Italian food. A couple of pizza places. I love pizza. There's a lot of things you don't really expect."

On the field, Lindor is doing his part to earn an All-Star selection with a large surge after a slow start in which he opened the season on the injured list. Despite missing the first couple of weeks, Lindor surged up the American League shortstop fWAR leaderboards, and he's provided an offensive spark the Indians have desperately needed as they try to keep pace in the race for the postseason.

Although Lindor did not make the list of finalists in fan voting, if he is chosen as a reserve it would be his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance. But above all, what he wants is to hear the hometown roar of the crowd when his name is announced. That's what stood out in his first All-Star Game in San Diego.

"It was special to be in San Diego, and I remember hearing how the crowd cheer[ed] for Wil Myers," Lindor said. "It was pretty cool for sure, seeing how they were into every team. That's the coolest thing. You have 30 different ballclubs and they're always cheering for every team except that in-town rival. Like in San Diego, it was the Dodgers. Besides that, I think it was pretty cool."

Lindor hasn't yet recorded a hit in an All-Star Game, but he said that doesn't bother him. After all, having an at-bat free of pressure isn't the worst thing every now and then.

"I just enjoy it. I enjoy everything," he said of his All-Star Game experiences. "It's a fun at-bat. Every at-bat is fun, but those are fun because you want to win the game. But if you don't get a hit, it's OK — you're still an All-Star. Nobody can take that away from you."

Although the bigger goal remains having his team play in October, the Midsummer Classic is one of Lindor's favorites. This year, he's already earned the honor of standing next to Thome and Alomar as Cleveland ambassadors, and he hopes the All-Star Game sheds some positive light on a city that often opens eyes once experienced.

And, perhaps one day, his goal is to be in the places of Thome and Alomar.

"It's special. We have two hall of famers, one in the Cleveland Hall of Fame and the other one in the Baseball Hall of Fame," Lindor said. "It's special, unique and to be an ambassador with them, it makes me happy, it makes me proud. They both came out of here. Hopefully, one day I'll be close to them."

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