NEW YORK -- It is an unhappy coincidence for White Sox reliever Jesse Crain that, after waiting a decade to make his first All-Star team, he is unable to pitch in it due to a sprained right shoulder.
But Crain plans to make the most of his time at Citi Field. He jokingly referred to his week in New York City as a "vacation" with one primary goal: introduce himself to retiring Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.
"Being a relief pitcher and playing for now -- this is my 10th season -- I've never had a chance to meet him," Crain said. "To be able to be here on the same team with him in his most likely last year, it's a pretty cool experience."
Though Crain will not take part in Tuesday's All-Star Game (6:30 p.m. CT on FOX) due to injury, teammate Chris Sale will be a healthy participant at Citi Field. Sale, 24, is making his second straight All-Star appearance in his second year as a starter, thanks to ranking in the top 10 of almost every American League pitching category but wins.
Even with a recent 0-6 stretch over seven starts from June 2-July 6, Sale still posted a 3.10 ERA, 62 strikeouts and a .212 opponents' batting average over those 49 1/3 innings. The fact that Sale received a total of nine runs of support during that stretch helps explain the record. Thanks to a win over Detroit on Thursday, Sale enters the Midsummer Classic with a 6-8 record, 2.85 ERA, 131 strikeouts and just 27 walks over 120 innings.
"Winning and losing is kind of everything in sports," Sale said. "I know everyone said a won-loss record for a pitcher is not the most important stat or even like a pointless stat, but at the end of the day you want to win games. That's what you're sent out there to do. At the end of the day, you still want to win."
It was AL manager Jim Leyland who picked Sale for the team, after the players voted on Sale last year. It also was Sale who drew the Tigers' ire in Thursday's game when he threw high and tight to Prince Fielder on the ensuing pitch following a Miguel Cabrera opposite-field homer. Sale swore postgame that there was no intent behind the pitch -- he was just trying to muscle up in frustration and throw one 120 mph. He planned to convey that point in New York to Fielder and Leyland, after thanking Leyland for taking him to another Midsummer Classic.
"It's still kind of surreal seeing some of these names around here and having my locker in the same locker room with some of these guys," Sale said. "I wouldn't say it's mandatory for me to be here. There are some guys that have some pretty good bodies of work and some great resumes and are working toward the Hall of Fame, and I'm just starting out. So it does get surreal sometimes, but I just try to handle it the best I can."
The 32-year-old Crain posted a franchise-record 29 straight appearances without allowing a run, breaking J.J. Putz's previous mark of 27, and 31 straight games without allowing an earned run to make an extra impact. He also has a 0.74 ERA entering the All-Star break and 46 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings.
Whether he will still be pitching for the White Sox past the non-waiver Trade Deadline, or whether he will even be healthy enough to pitch by then, remain questions to be answered for the veteran.
"It's crossed my mind, but I'm not really thinking about that right now," Crain said. "I'm just trying to get healthy. I was thinking about all the trade stuff when I was pitching before, but now that I've been on the DL, before anything can happen, I need to get healthy anyway. That's what I'm thinking about. I'm happy to represent the White Sox here. That's who I've had my success with and that's the reason I am here. So I'm glad it's with them."
Until he does get healthy, the only question surrounding Crain is how much fun can he have at one of baseball's more storied events.
"I'm extremely excited," Crain said. "Chicago is a great city. Being able to represent the White Sox is a dream come true. This is my third year and they've treated me awesome, and the fans are great. To come here on this big stage and be able to represent them is a great feeling."
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.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less