NEW YORK -- For one night, the three Rangers All-Stars are not going to think about the standings in the American League West.
Joe Nathan, Nelson Cruz and Yu Darvish are not going to worry about being in second place, or the first-place A's, or what's in store in the second half of the season.
Instead they are going enjoy the All-Star experience, because there will be plenty of time to ponder the rest of the season once Tuesday's game is over. The trio addressed the media at Citi Field on Monday afternoon, and it was apparent that they are having a good time.
"It's very meaningful to be selected for the All-Star Game and be around so many great players, whether I pitch or not," Darvish said with a smile. "It's good to be here with my teammates. Nelson has always been good to me, and I'm happy he is here with me, But at the same time, Joe Nathan always picks on me, and he's also here on the team, so my happiness has been decreased."
Quipped the 38-year-old Nathan: "Pick on the old, huh? I'll get him back for that."
It's hard to blame Nathan for being in such a good mood. The six-time All-Star is from Pine Bush, N.Y., just north of New York City, and he'll have plenty of family and friends at the game. Cruz, who was selected as a reserve in 2009, also will have family in attendance on Tuesday. Darvish was the AL Final Vote winner in 2012 but did not appear in the game.
"I still have a lot of support from here, and I talk to a lot of people I grew up with and went to high school with," Nathan said. "To have a chance to bring them here for an event like this is pretty cool. It's nice to be able to share this moment with them and give them a chance to come down here, have some fun and do something they normally don't get to do."
What Nathan normally does do is get people out. He has 30 saves in 31 chances and a 1.36 ERA, and he has struck out 42 in 39 2/3 innings.
"He's amazing, and he's been consistent all year long," Nelson said. "He's been the star of the team, coming in and closing games."
Cruz is also doing his part, hitting .277 with 22 home runs (among 97 hits) and 69 RBIs in 92 games. This is the type of season he always believed he can have.
"I'm more experienced and more mature," he said. "This year I have been able to stay on the field and be consistent. You always expect more from yourself, but at the same time, I think I'm having a great year. I try to do it every year, but the pitchers are tough."
"I'm really excited for Nelson to be here, and we were really pushing for him," Nathan said. "We would not be where we are without him in the game. Obviously, Yu Darvish is just a special talent. To be here with these three guys is very special. We wish [Adrian] Beltre was with us. He had the numbers, but that's such a tough position."
Cruz is among the players who have been linked to Major League Baseball's investigation into Biogenesis, but he chose not to discuss the subject on Monday.
"I'm here to play baseball. That's my goal," he said. "I've been consistent and doing my job every day. Thinking about winning is easy. I did something good in the first half, and I deserve to be here."
Cruz did enjoy talking about Nathan and Darvish. He has come to appreciate the fun-loving relationship between the friends.
"Me and Yu always joke around with each other and try to keep things relaxed," Nathan said. "There is so much pressure in this game that you have to have fun with each other and enjoy each other's company in the clubhouse."
Darvish is 8-4 with a 3.02 ERA with 157 strikeouts in 139 1/3 innings. He's also a known practical joker.
Nathan knows Darvish well enough to expect another prank this week. And yes, he will try to get him back after it happens.
"He always likes to make my ice bath a little colder than it has to be," Nathan said. "I like my water around 50 degrees, but he likes to dump ice in there to get it around 40 degrees. That's one of the things he has fun with. It's been fun watching his journey over the last two years and how much better of a pitcher he has become."
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th 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. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.