WASHINGTON -- J.A. Happ spent a lot of time wondering if this day would ever come. The more time passed and the more his body went through the grind of a season, it seemed like it never would."You never know. So many things kind of have to go right," Happ
WASHINGTON -- J.A. Happ spent a lot of time wondering if this day would ever come. The more time passed and the more his body went through the grind of a season, it seemed like it never would.
"You never know. So many things kind of have to go right," Happ said at All-Star media availability Monday. " … You never know how much you've got left to go."
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So when Blue Jays manager John Gibbons called a team meeting earlier this month to announce that Happ would be representing the squad at the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, he couldn't help but feel a sense of relief.
"I was just hoping there was a chance," said Happ, adding that he's been able to appreciate the honor more after the long wait.
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At 35 years old, Happ, a 12-year veteran who is on his second stint with Toronto, is making his first All-Star appearance in a time of his career when players' talents are expected to be in a decline.
"I think I can appreciate just how difficult of a thing it can be," Happ said. "Those guys that do it year in and year out, it's incredibly impressive to do that. For me, it does mean a lot, finally getting an opportunity and getting nominated for it."
Happ's selection not only feels like the long-awaited notoriety has finally come in his career, but also sends a message to anyone along the way who counted him out and said his place was not with the biggest stars in baseball.
"Early in my career, a lot of that stuff fueled me," Happ said of how he's dealt with doubt. " … Then I started to understand the best way to be constantly motivated is just the inner drive I've always had. I've used that more than trying to get back at people, than who wrote this about me. It certainly feels good to do things people maybe didn't think you could when you first started out."
The moment for Happ comes when he's working through an additional new experience: The possibility of being dealt at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline to a contender. The Phillies -- Happ's former team -- have been near the top of trade rumors recently for the left-hander.
"Those are some of my best baseball memories, being on that team," Happ said of his first years with the Phillies, which saw a World Series win in 2008.
Happ said he would welcome the opportunity to return to Philadelphia with open arms if it comes.
"Yeah, maybe," Happ said, rather enthusiastically.
Despite the noted interest, Happ says he's tried to tune out any trade rumors that have come his way and not let them hamper the incredible honor he feels by being here. After all, he's waited long enough to make it in the first place.
"When it's all said and done and I look back, it's going to be something I'm really proud of," he said.
While watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on Tuesday, fans can submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote.
The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.
For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.
Zachary Silver is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore. Follow him on Twitter at @zachsilver .