Pirates' Harrison, McCutchen, Watson picked for All-Star Game
Reigning MVP Andrew McCutchen will represent the Pirates at the All-Star Game for the fourth year in a row and will make his first start after collecting the most fan votes of any National League outfielder.
And he won't be the only Pirates player at the game.
In two of the more rare appointments in terms of roles, setup man Tony Watson and utility man Josh Harrison will be making their first trips to the All-Star Game, on July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis. Both were selected to the team by manager Mike Matheny.
“You definitely appreciate it because it lets you know that the work you've done has not gone unnoticed,” said Harrison, who is the first utility player named to the NL All-Star team since Omar Infante in 2010. “It's one of those things where you don't want to get caught up in it but it's hard not to. It feels good.”
Harrison has made 49 starts at positions including right field, left field, third base and second base this season and is batting .298 with 21 extra-base hits, including five home runs, and 25 RBIs. Just last season he split time between Triple-A Indianapolis and the Pirates.
“Guys have been saying, ‘Get ready to go to Minnesota,' ” Harrison said. “You never really know. It's definitely a blessing and a dream come true.”
Watson knew his name had come up in conversations. With All-Star nods generally going to starters and closers, however, he felt he was on the outside looking in even though Pirates setup man Mark Melancon was picked in 2013 and, before him, Evan Meek in 2010.
“To be in the conversation was great,” Watson said. “To actually get picked is kind of surreal. It's just a great honor. There are other guys in the same role I am who are very deserving. I'm anxious to see the other guys who make the team because there are guys even in this division doing the same thing I'm doing so hopefully they get the accolades, too.”
Watson is in rare company. He has been charged with just one earned run since April 22 and his 0.59 ERA since Aug. 6, 2013, is the best among major league relievers. Since April 24, he has struck out 37 batters in 31 appearances and posted a 0.29 ERA and made 21 straight scoreless appearances before suffering a blown save June 16 at Miami. He has been scored on in just four of his 41 appearances and leads the majors with 22 holds.
He is the first left-handed reliever to make the All-Star team as a Pirate.
As of June 10, McCutchen was fourth among outfielders in fan voting, trailing the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig, Miami's Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Gomez of the Brewers. In the final balloting update issued last week, he was first, and finished with 4,519,440 votes. Gomez was second with 4,068,745. He is the first Pirates player to start an All-Star Game since Jason Bay in 2006.
“It definitely takes us winning to get the recognition,” McCutchen said. “We've done that the past couple years, and we're doing a good job this year. It's good to see and I'm happy that the fans came out and voted. It's definitely an honor.”
He is the first Pirates' position player to be named to four consecutive All-Star Games since Bobby Bonilla from 1988-1991 and the first outfielder since Roberto Clemente from 1969-1972.
This is also the first time since 1990-1993 that the Pirates will send multiple representatives to the All-Star Game in four consecutive years. They will be joined by manager Clint Hurdle, who will serve as coach, and assistant athletic trainer Ben Potenziano.
McCutchen said every aspect of the All-Star Game is fun, and that no one thing stands above the rest. He said you have to make the most of it. It's a piece of advice he will get to share next week with his two teammates.
“They earned it,” McCutchen said of Watson and Harrison. “Both of them have been lights out all year. And then (Harrison) just getting the opportunity and wherever it is, he's made the most of it. You couldn't ask for more from both of these guys.”