Before he learned that he would start on Sunday afternoon in the first-half finale against the Baltimore Orioles so that he wouldn't be available to pitch in the 2015 MLB All-Star Game, Max Scherzer talked to reporters last week in the nation's capital about what it meant to make the National League roster for the Midsummer Classic.
"I grew up wanting to be a baseball player," Scherzer said. "Grew up wanting to be a pitcher. Something that I've always dreamed of. You always dreamed of making the All-Star game, but it never seemed like a reality.
"It wasn't until 10-15 years later where you actually had the realistic dream like, 'Hey, I can do this.'"
Scherzer won't pitch, but the 30-year-old right-hander is in Cincinnati for his third trip to the All-Star Game, after making the American League roster in each of his last two seasons with the Detroit Tigers in 2013-14.
"To be able to do it and obviously now for me my third time, it's special," he said. "This is something major for us. We appreciate what this means because when we were ten, we were watching the games, watching the All-Star Games and watching everybody in those games. I definitely remember when Pedro [Martinez] in that '99 All-Star Game when he faced all those top hitters and struck them out. So it -- this game does mean something."
"It's unbelievable," Harper told reporters. It's the 22-year-old slugger's third trip too.
"Being able to play alongside some of the best baseball players in the world is a lot of fun," Harper said. "Guys that you play against, being able to get able to get to know them a little bit for those couple days and playing against the guys that you see across the dugout and playing for a manager that you've never played for and it's just an all-around great experience."
"You're celebrating with the other top players in the league," Harper continued. "Guys who are having great seasons and having fun with everybody. It's an absolute event and I wish every player got to experience it."
Harper's starting in right field after leading all vote-getters in the National League voting with 13,964,950 fan votes, which was the third-highest total league-wide.
San Francisco Giants' manager Bruce Bochy, who watched Harper go 5 for 17 with three home runs in four games last October and 5 for 8 with two doubles and a home run in three games when the defending World Series Champions visited the nation's capital earlier this month, has Harper hitting third in the NL's imposing lineup after the then-20-year-old slugger hit ninth when he was voted on to the All-Star team for the first time in 2013 after being added to the roster and coming off the bench in his rookie campaign in 2012.
Through 81 games, the no.1 overall pick of the 2010 Draft has 21 doubles, 26 HRs and a .339/.464/.704 line in 343 plate appearances, over which he's been worth +5.7 fWAR.
Scherzer finished the "first-half" at +4.7 fWAR, with a (10-7) record, a 2.11 ERA, a 2.19 FIP, 14 walks (0.95 BB/9) and 150 Ks (10.23 K/9) in 18 starts and 132 innings pitched.
Both Harper and Scherzer met with the media on Monday afternoon in Cincinnati and talked more about what it meant to be there for the All-Star Game: