Haren revels in All-Star experience
Right-hander's two innings finish off memorable break
SAN FRANCISCO -- A's righty Dan Haren was formally introduced to the national baseball media as the American League's starting pitcher for the All-Star Game on Monday morning.On Monday night, he got to hobnob with his fellow hardball heroes at the Home Run Derby. And before pitching two innings in Tuesday's Midsummer Classic at AT&T Park, he got to see Giants legend Willie Mays in person for the first time during a moving tribute to the Hall of Fame center fielder. Everything about Haren's first All-Star experience was full. His stomach, however, was not. "I had jitters all day," Haren said after giving up a run on two hits. "I could barely eat anything. I ate half an egg omelet when I woke up, and that was all I had in me. I had no appetite." Not much time to warm up, either. He spent part of the time allotted for that to soak in the Mays tribute. "It was a little weird," Haren admitted. "I wanted to pay my respects to the players and to Willie Mays. I was just kind of wondering how I was going to get loose. I got on the mound late, but I probably made three throws that I felt could have gone through a brick wall. My adrenaline was flowing. Once I got that under me, I was good to go." Haren, who went 10-3 with a 2.30 ERA in the first half, has pitched in plenty of big games. He went to the World Series with the 2004 Cardinals, and he pitched in the AL Championship Series with the A's last fall. This, he conceded, was a slightly different animal. "I don't think I've ever had as much jitters or nervousness going into a game as I did today -- even in the World Series," he said. "Getting the ball from A-Rod [Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez] at the start of the first inning, I could just sit back and think about how far I've come. "This is something I'll remember the rest of my life."
He doesn't even want to forget the bottom of the first inning, in which the NL grabbed an early lead against Haren. Mets shortstop Jose Reyes led off with a single and promptly stole second base despite the presence of perennial Gold Glover Pudge Rodriguez behind the plate."Obviously he stole that one off me, 'cause Pudge made an awesome throw, right on the bag," Haren said. "I was probably pretty slow to the plate." With a runner in scoring position and nobody out, in stepped crowd favorite Barry Bonds. "I knew I wasn't going to walk him. That's for sure," Haren said. "I was going to give him a pitch to hit. If I walked him, I'd probably get booed off the mound, just come in the clubhouse and shower up." So he gave Bonds a couple of fastballs to get ahead in the count and eventually retired him on a fly ball to right field. "Getting the first out was nice," Haren said. "I didn't make a very good pitch to Bonds, but getting the out was nice. Haren then struck out Carlos Beltran, but Ken Griffey Jr. singled up the middle to score Reyes and give the NL a 1-0 lead. In the second inning, Haren issued a leadoff walk to Prince Fielder before retiring the next three hitters and calling it a night. Actually, he didn't quite call it a night at that point. He went into the clubhouse to get some ice for his arm, then headed back to the dugout to soak as much of the experience as possible before driving across the Bay Bridge to his East Bay home. But not before getting something in that stomach. "Now I'm very hungry," he said. "I'm going to try to get some protein in me before I pass out. I'm looking forward to getting home, laying on the bed and thinking about how cool the last two days have been."
Mychael Urban is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.