As a child, Jose Berrios grew up closely watching his idols, Pedro Martinez and Ivan Rodriguez, play in the All-Star Game, hoping he would one day have the chance to do the same. On Tuesday, the 24-year-old Twins ace got his chance.Berrios made his All-Star debut for the American League
As a child, Jose Berrios grew up closely watching his idols, Pedro Martinez and Ivan Rodriguez, play in the All-Star Game, hoping he would one day have the chance to do the same. On Tuesday, the 24-year-old Twins ace got his chance.
Berrios made his All-Star debut for the American League at the 2018 MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at Nationals Park in Washington. With his wife and three kids watching from the stands, the right-hander tossed a clean fifth inning for the American League and sat down three of the four batters he faced. The AL went on to win, 8-6, in 10 innings.
Berrios, the Twins lone All-Star representative, forced a loud out from Yadier Molina when the Cardinals catcher hit a long flyout to the warning track in center field to end the inning.
"It scared me a little bit," Berrios said. "If [Molina] hit a homer, everybody would have enjoyed it too."
At this time a year ago, the talented Berrios was trying to find his footing with the Twins and spent parts of 2017 bouncing up and down between the Minors and Majors. But on Tuesday, he was on the mound with the game's elite stars, smiling after he retired his friend and fellow Puerto Rican Javier Baez of the Cubs. Likewise, Rodriguez is also from Puerto Rico.
After Berrios got Baez to fly out to right, the two began to tease each other as Baez headed back to the dugout.
"We were just laughing and smiling, you know," Berrios said. "He's my brother, and I love him. I enjoy watching him play baseball."
Tuesday was the culmination of plenty of hard work for Berrios. He has made the difficult jump from highly touted prospect to staff ace in just his third Major League season, and he's tallied a 9-7 record and 3.68 ERA while striking out 127 batters and walking just 29 this season.
Around this time four years ago, Berrios and fellow All-Stars Francisco Lindor and Baez were playing in the MLB Futures Game. Now, they've gone head-to-head in the Midsummer Classic.
In the time that has passed in those four seasons, Berrios has endeared himself to Twins fans with a glowing personality that he often displays on Twitter and Instagram. He has even gone viral thanks to the impressive workout videos he posts during the offseason -- including one in which he pushed a truck.
You don't have to search long to find the last Twins starter to throw in an All-Star Game -- Ervin Santana represented Minnesota last year, as did former Twins closer Brandon Kintzler. But Santana has missed the entire 2018 season to date due to an injured finger, and Kintzler now pitches for the Nationals.
Berrios has stepped up in place of Santana to become Minnesota's stopper this year. As he said last week, he hopes that Tuesday was just the first of many All-Star appearances.
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com.