In 2010, the year he won the Cy Young Award, Felix Hernandez somehow didn't make the All-Star team. The year after, he has made the All-Star...
PHOENIX — In 2010, the year he won the Cy Young Award, Felix Hernandez somehow didn’t make the All-Star team.
The year after, he has made the All-Star team, but he can’t pitch in the game.
Hernandez is one of several aces ineligible by virtue of the MLB rule disqualifying any starters who pitched Sunday. That contingency has knocked out Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, James Shields, Cole Hamels and Matt Cain, in addition to Hernandez.
But Hernandez isn’t going to let that little detail detract him from an enjoyable stint in Phoenix. He’ll take part in all the festivities and even suit up for the game and watch from the AL dugout Tuesday.
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“It’s not going to be strange,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy it. It’s going to be fun.”
Still, Hernandez said he’d rather be pitching.
“If you’re here, you want to pitch,” he said. “But it’s a rule.”
Last year, en route to the Cy Young, Hernandez reached the break with a 7-5 record and a 2.88 earned-run average. He pitched brilliantly in the second half, putting up a 1.53 ERA, though the M’s lack of run support resulted in a 6-7 record. This year, he is 8-7 with a 3.19 ERA at the break.
Asked if he’s happy with his first half, Hernandez said, “Not really. I think it was a decent first half, but I’ve got to be more consistent. Hopefully, my second half will be better or similar to last year.”
Hernandez said he’ll be relaxed on Tuesday, “but I’ve got to do a lot of stuff — ice, play catch. I’ve got to get ready for the second half.”
He’s also got to keep an eye on youthful All-Star teammate Michael Pineda. American League manager Ron Washington joked Monday, “I was messing with Pineda. But he won’t say anything unless Felix says it’s OK.”
Hold on, baby!
Brandon League and his wife, Sasha, hope to leave Phoenix without a new baby, but it’s going to be a race to the wire.
Sasha’s due date is July 20, but they had decided to induce labor in Seattle during the All-Star break, back when an All-Star appearance by Brandon wasn’t on their radar.
The Leagues thought Brandon might have to miss his first All-Star Game, but he is here, and so is Sasha. She flew out on a private plane, and if all goes well, will fly back to Seattle with Brandon after the game on Tuesday. The plan is to induce Wednesday in Seattle.
“She’s not really having any contractions,” League said Monday afternoon. “I think we’re in the clear until Wednesday.”
Just in case, they have the obstetrician they were seeing in Arizona during spring training on call. If Sasha goes into labor before their departure, “We’ll have it here,” League said. “We have everything covered. Everything.”
And he means everything. The Leagues even have an ace in the hole.
“Her dad is a doctor, too,” League said. “He could deliver it in the stands if he wanted to.”
League’s father-in-law is a family practitioner by trade, but “he’s done it all,” League said. “He’s worked in the emergency room. Even if I needed Tommy John (surgery), he could do that.”
Pineda, League to play
American League manager Ron Washington said he plans to use both Pineda and League in the game.
Washington said that he talked to the managers and pitching coaches of each pitcher on his squad to get their guidelines for using that pitcher.
“I want to return these guys just as healthy as they came here,” he said.
Washington added the Mariners told him they are OK with Pineda pitching.
“Oh, he will appear,” Washington said. “He’s in the pecking order. He’s got one inning, and not more than 30 pitches. Hopefully, his one inning he can get out of it with less than 30 pitches.”
Washington assured that League will see action, too — but is not likely to close the game.
“Brandon’s going to get his inning in, because he was chosen by … the players,” Washington said. “He’ll be towards the end of the ballgame.”
The American League will be without its automatic choice to close the game for the past decade, Mariano Rivera, who pulled out because of injury. Washington said he plans to have Detroit’s Jose Valverde do the closing.
“There’s a lot of youth in the All-Star Game this year, first timers,” Washington said. “If it’s a close ballgame, and I have to close it down, I’m more than certain I’m going to give the ball to Valverde.”
• Tim Lincecum was asked to come up with his All-Star team of musicians. He didn’t hesitate. “The band Far East Movement — that’s five positions right there. John Legend has to be in there. Hall and Oates — got to have them in there. The guys from MGMT. Maybe Eminem as the closer.”