Pregame notes: 2013 All-Star Game
While just being here is a story in its own right for every All-Star, especially for the 39 first-time All-Stars, a few have a little extra flavor - starting with Mets phenom Matt Harvey, who will become just the sixth man to start the All-Star Game in his home park and first since Roger Clemens in Houston in 2004.
"It's a huge honor and something I'm very excited about; the fans have been great here all year, and you know, hopefully I can make them proud," Harvey said. "They have been behind me and the team all year. Having the opportunity to take the ball is something I'll never forget and very thankful for, especially at home. It's my first All?Star Game and it being at home, it's extremely special and I'm very, very thankful."
Harvey will join select company in also being just the third Met to start the All-Star Game, joining Doc Gooden and Tom Seaver in that respect.
"To be named with those guys, they are two of the best," Harvey said. "The support that Doc has given me is amazing, and hopefully I'm making him proud. It's going to be a good experience."
Both starters come in a little nicked up, as Harvey had his start skipped on Saturday to help a blister heal and AL hurler Max Scherzer was struck on the left wrist with a line drive in his final pre-break outing, but neither the Tigers' righty nor the NL skipper were worried about their respective maladies.
"Naturally I talked to (Mets manager) Terry (Collins) a few times and he let me know exactly where (Harvey's) at….he's only limited to 100 or 120 pitches," NL manager Bruce Bochy laughed. "But Terry's sitting beside me in the dugout and it's great to have him here; Harvey's fine, and the one thing (AL manager) Jimmy (Leyland) and I both will do is hopefully take care of these players and send him back in the same type of shape they came in."
"It hurt throughout the game but I was always able to pitch through it, and I've been able to ice it and treat it, and it's doing a lot better," Scherzer added of his wrist. "I really doubt it's going to affect me."
Of the rest of the players here, the intrigue on the veteran end belongs mostly to Mariano Rivera, who Leyland insists will pitch in his 13th and final All-Star Game.
"Mariano Rivera I assume is going to come in very healthy and you can rest assured, he will be on the mound at some point and you will see him pitch," Leyland said. "Whether it's one hitter or an inning depends on how the game goes, but you will see No. 42 pitch."
On the flip side are those 39 first-timers, and all of the AL rookies we polled couldn't have been happier to be in Queens.
"I'm very sweaty, but that's the only complaint you'll get out of me," laughed Cleveland's Jason Kipnis as he noted the steamy on-field temperature. "This is awesome so far, and I'm on cloud nine right now."
"It's because of guys like (Kipnis) that I'm here representing the Tribe," added his teammate Justin Masterson, "and it's pretty incredible to be here. New York does it big and it's pretty great. It's a lot of fun, especially for my first time, and I can see why it's great for people who have been here multiple times; the craziness that it is, it's just enjoyable."
And for Toronto pitcher Steve Delabar, who beat out David Robertson among others to win the AL Final Vote and join teammates Jose Bautista, Brett Cecil and Edwin Encarnacion, it's even more meaningful.
"It was a huge honor to be up for consideration with the guys I was up against, and then to win it, I say thank you to all the fans, because without them I wouldn't be here," Delabar said.
And, like pretty much everyone, he doesn't care whether he pitches the second or ninth inning, as long he gets to play - because he knows that middle relief is usually the one spot that gets little to no love in All-Star proceedings.
"You can tab everybody in the bullpen as a set-up guy, even a long guy…typically in an All-Star Game, you see closers and starters and not so many middle relievers," Delabar said. "So to have two from the same team is pretty incredible, but it's a testament to how we have to piece it together these days."
As for the lineups, it may seem hard to put one together given the talent level in the game, but Leyland for one thought it was a bit of a foolproof undertaking no matter how you go about it.
"Well even I can't mess that one up, I don't think. We put speed up front and a bunch of power guys together, a little lefty/righty… I don't think that makes a lot of difference in that game but you don't know how it's going to play out," Leyland said. "You have to put them somewhere and I feel comfortable with the lineup that I made out and I feel very comfortable with it, as I'm sure Bruce does his."
Leyland won't have Home Run Derby champ Yoenis Cespedes but he does have current MLB home run leader Chris Davis, and one of Davis' Orioles teammates gave a bit of a scouting report on what has made the AL's cleanup hitter so dangerous in 2013.
"There really is no strike zone for him; he's hitting balls out of the park that most guys swing and miss at, because they're nowhere near the plate," Tillman said. "He's just so strong and has the ability to barrel balls up, and that's working for him right now."
The full American League order: LF Mike Trout, 2B Robinson Cano, 3B Miguel Cabrera, 1B Chris Davis, RF Jose Bautista, DH David Ortiz, CF Adam Jones, C Joe Mauer, SS J.J. Hardy.
And, the full National League order: 2B Brandon Phillips, RF Carlos Beltran, 1B Joey Votto, 3B David Wright, LF Carlos Gonzalez, C Yadier Molina, SS Troy Tulowitzki, DH Michael Cuddyer, CF Bryce Harper.
Enjoy the All-Star Game everybody!