07/09/12 9:41 PM ET
Orioles All-Stars enjoying the company
First time since '05 that club has had more than one representative
By Paul Hagen / MLB.com
"The best thing about this is we were able to get three guys here instead of just the one we've had the last six or seven years. So it's nice to be here with some teammates and some guys you can go through it with," said catcher Matt Wieters, who was honored for the second straight year.
That's a tribute to the fact that the Orioles, predicted by few to contend this season, are right in contention at the break.
And that, in turn, has made things a little more interesting for Wieters, outfielder Adam Jones (who also represented the O's in 2009) and closer Jim Johnson, a first-time selection. Every player competes for personal pride and for their league and for home-field advantage in the World Series when they come to the All-Star Game. This time, though, they can think about how it might help their own team.
"Last year was my first year, and it still got all the competitive juices going. But we'd be really excited if this did turn out to benefit us by winning this game," Wieters said during Monday's Gatorade All-Star Workout Day.
Jones hadn't really thought about it in those terms, but conceded the point.
"This is a game. I want to win it. It does count. It's a game that counts for home-field advantage. And it's a game that I'm able to participate in. So I want to come out on the winning side," he said.
"I've just looked at it as getting a chance to play for the American League All-Stars. And I want to beat the National League All-Stars. And they feel the exact same way," Jones continued. "But it's important to try to secure the home-field advantage. If we're there, it will be awesome to have an extra World Series game at Camden Yards. I'm excited. Who wouldn't be? You're among the best players in the game right now."
American League lineup
|1. Derek Jeter, NYY||R||SS|
|2. Robinson Cano, NYY||L||2B|
|3. Josh Hamilton, TEX||L||LF|
|4. Jose Bautista, TOR||R||RF|
|5. Prince Fielder, DET||L||1B|
|6. Adrian Beltre, TEX||R||3B|
|7. David Ortiz, BOS||L||DH|
|8. Mike Napoli, TEX||R||C|
|9. Curtis Granderson, NYY||L||CF|
|Justin Verlander, DET||R||P|
And the Orioles, at 45-40, have been among the best teams this season.
"We expected a lot from ourselves," Wieters said. "That was the thing going into Spring Training. Everybody on the outside can say and watch and believe what they see. But we knew going in we had a different team and a different mentality going in. And we were really able to amp up some areas that were needed. Our bullpen's been great, and getting two starters this offseason really helped us. [Jason] Hammel and [Wei-Yin] Chen have both been huge for us."
So has the 29-year-old Johnson, who has a Major League-leading 26 saves at the break after coming into the season with a career total of 21.
"We need to prove to ourselves we can win in this division," Johnson said. "The competitive nature is going to come out no matter what, whether you have one representative last year, or being in last place or first place. But when you play in a game, you always want to do your best."
The advice Johnson got from players who had been All-Stars before was to be sure to have fun.
"Just enjoy the experience. And that's kind of what I'm trying to do," he said. He wanted to share the experience, too. Among those he brought along is Ed Foley, his baseball coach from Union-Endicott (N.Y.) High School.
Wieters said pitching will continue to be the key for the Orioles in the second half.
"You're going to have to score runs to win in the AL East, but the key is to hold the other team down and hope you can get some timely hits," he said.
The three Orioles All-Stars have enjoyed the company. And they also enjoy the idea that they might just be able to take advantage of the home-field advantage that would come with a win Tuesday night.
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com
Paul Hagen is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.