Tired Rangers wake up for whirlwind of ASG

Tired Rangers wake up for whirlwind of ASG

Tired Rangers wake up for whirlwind of ASG
KANSAS CITY -- The Rangers arrived at the 83rd All-Star Game under the cover of darkness in the wee hours of Monday morning. Most of Kansas City had called it a night when the eight Rangers players were dropped off at their hotel around 3 a.m. CT.

There were three autograph seekers still hanging around hoping to get lucky. But they were chasing after eight tired players who had endured a 46-minute rain delay and 13 innings before edging the Twins, 4-3, on Sunday night in Arlington.

"I think I got to sleep around 4," second baseman Ian Kinsler said.

The Rangers were still able to rouse themselves and be at Arrowhead Stadium for a 1:15 p.m. media availability before heading across the parking lot to Kauffman Stadium and the Monday workout.

"It's a whirlwind," Kinsler said. "You're constantly doing things and moving around. You just enjoy it and soak it all in and try to have as much fun as you can."

Kinsler is here for the third time in his career. This was a first for pitcher Yu Darvish, although he pitched in five All-Star Games in Japan.

"The first thing I noticed is they build this thing up a lot more than they do in Japan," Darvish said. "The players are also treated better."

This was also Darvish's first trip ever to Kansas City, and a local reporter said he needed to try the town's renown barbecue.

"I'll think about it," Darvish said.

The media availability lasts 45 minutes. Players sit at individual tables while hundreds of credentialed media work the room, asking questions in English, Spanish and Japanese. There was also a TV crew from Taiwan.

Mike Napoli was asked by one guy with a microphone if he wanted to give a "shout out" to all the Rangers fans in Europe.

American League lineup
Player, Team Bats Pos.
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

"Shout out to all Rangers fans in Europe," Napoli mumbled into the microphone.

Any particular country?

"I guess Italy," Napoli said.

He was also asked about White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski's insinuation that Napoli didn't deserve to be at the All-Star Game because of his low batting average.

"He's had a great year, you can't take that away from him," Napoli said. "But the fans voted me in. There were other ways he could have gotten in."

Napoli suggested the support of Rangers fans in voting him onto the All-Star team may be a factor this offseason when he is a free agent.

"It's been great in Texas, the fan support is amazing," Napoli said. "I definitely love playing in front of them. It will definitely help when the offseason comes around."

Yes, it is the All-Star Game. But what's a media gathering around Josh Hamilton without somebody asking him about his pending free agency. From the first day of Spring Training until now, it's just not a topic that goes untouched.

"I haven't thought about the contract one bit," said Hamilton, who always draws a big crowd at the All-Star Game. "I'll keep saying it. I'm praying about it. My wife's praying about it. I love Texas. We'd love to stay in Texas. But obviously we put the talks, as a mutual agreement, on hold between us and the club until the season's over. When the season's over, we'll restart them. So it's not like we're going to run off into free agency and give everybody a shot before the Rangers. [The Rangers] have the first shot, man."

He did at least give a better response than Adrian Beltre when asked if he could go back in time, what would be the one game in history that he would watch.

"I can't go back in time," Beltre pointed out.

Hamilton, Beltre and Napoli will start for the AL on Tuesday night. Beltre will be batting sixth and playing third base for the home team at Kauffman Stadium. The most famous third baseman ever for the home team at Kauffman Stadium was George Brett.

"I never saw Brett play," Beltre said. "I'm not that old, but I've seen many highlights of him, and he was a tremendous player. He's a Hall of Famer. It's nice to be here and to be starting, but I'm not a shadow of what George Brett was. I'm just happy to be a part of this."

Matt Harrison is not starting. Manager Ron Washington picked Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander to start for the AL on Tuesday night. Harrison is still expected to pitch, but doesn't known when.

"They just said somehow they're going to try to get me in the game," Harrison said. "It would be a thrill to pitch to at least one batter. Verlander is well-deserving. He is leading the league in just about everything."

Not wins. Harrison and David Price of the Rays are tied for wins in the AL with 11.

"I can't wait to speak to a few guys," Harrison said, referring to some of the other pitchers on the AL staff. "I've seen those guys across the field, but when we get in that clubhouse, I want to pick some of their brains and see how they go about their business. There is definitely a lot to learn here. It's a great thing to be here, but picking up a little information really helps."

The eight players are the most from any team here at the All-Star Game. The Cardinals are next with five.

"I think the thing that separates us as a team from others is our heart," said shortstop Elvis Andrus, here for his second All-Star Game. "We have a lot of heart. We are professional and we have talent, but we care about winning and each other. It's a great combination."

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 6:30 p.m. CT. 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.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.