MINNEAPOLIS -- On one hand, there's the honor of attending the All-Star Game for the fourth time. On the other hand, four days at home with his newborn son.
For Brewers closer Josh Hader, it was an obvious call.
Hader explained his reasons for electing not to attend next week’s Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium, saying his “duty” was to spend the break with his wife, Maria, who on June 15 gave birth to the couple’s first child, Lucas Alexander, after a difficult pregnancy.
MLB named Giants starter Carlos Rodón to the National League All-Star team in Hader’s spot.
“First off, it’s an honor to go to the game, to be named as part of an All-Star selection,” Hader said. “But I think my duty is to be with my family and just to be ready for the second half. My family needs me at this time. It’s the decision we made.”
Hader was away from the Brewers for two stints this season related to the pending birth of his son as Maria dealt with some complications. Since returning to action he has been learning to juggle his obligations to the Brewers, for whom he has compiled a Major League-leading 26 saves entering Tuesday, with his obligations as a father.
“You feel like you’re visiting your family for most of the year. That’s the tough part about it,” Hader said. “I think spending the quality time as much as you can is the end goal, you know? … Everybody knows the grind of baseball, but the ultimate grind is being away from your family and not being able to see them as much as you possibly can. The fortunate thing is we have 4-5 months in the offseason to spend that time, so it’s a give and take. Obviously, family is the most important.”
Rest is also important. Hader began this season with 19 consecutive scoreless appearances, giving him 40 straight scoreless regular-season appearances dating to last season to match Astros reliever Ryan Pressly’s big league record.
But Hader has been more vulnerable on the mound of late. Starting with a June 7 loss to the Phillies in which he surrendered a pair of solo home runs, he allowed six earned runs in his last 11 innings through his All-Star selection on Sunday.
The All-Star break will provide an opportunity to unplug.
“I think just in general, the All-Star break is nice to relax the mind and not really focus on baseball too much,” Hader said. “Even if you’re at the All-Star Game, it’s a little bit relaxed and a different environment than going through the season. Just to be able to get those days from going through the grind will be very beneficial.
“Honestly, I feel like I’m in the best spot I’ve been in my career. I think there’s a lot that I’ve learned to keep my body in shape and in tune, and just the recovery aspect of things. I’ve been able to expand my knowledge on the recovery aspect of things, which has helped me out throughout the daily grind and trying to be ready each and every day.”
Brewers manager Craig Counsell supported Hader’s call.
“Josh has had, the last six weeks, a lot on his plate for sure,” Counsell said. “Road trips are stressful and we have a bunch of guys in this position here where it’s just a difficult spot where you have a newborn and you have to leave. The All-Star Game is a great honor and it’s not an easy choice to make, but it’s a choice and I think we all understand Josh’s choice.”