SAN DIEGO -- Even though it will mark his third appearance in the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, his selection this year felt even more special for Manny Machado.It was the first time he was voted in as the American League's starting third baseman, after serving as a reserve last
SAN DIEGO -- Even though it will mark his third appearance in the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, his selection this year felt even more special for Manny Machado.
It was the first time he was voted in as the American League's starting third baseman, after serving as a reserve last year and in 2013, a fact that makes this appearance mean a little more to him.
"It's awesome, just for the fans that voted me in and recognized the opportunity that I'm one of the best in the league," said Machado, who will hit third in the AL lineup. "So it's an honor. I'm very humbled by the opportunity that they've given me."
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Of course Machado, who just turned 24 last week, has spent the first half firmly establishing himself as one of the most elite players in baseball. He enters the break hitting .318/.375/.569 with 19 homers and a .944 OPS. Machado headlines a group of five Orioles All-Stars -- including Mark Trumbo, Matt Wieters, Zach Britton and first-timer Brad Brach -- a reward for a team that leads the AL East by two games at the break.
"This has been probably the most fun I've had in the Major Leagues," Trumbo said. "This team in particular, a lot of it is contributed to the fact that we've been playing winning baseball."
The fact that Trumbo leads the Majors in homers with 28 helps as well. This is his second career All-Star appearance, and one that carries extra significance considering he is enjoying a breakout season through the first half.
• All-Star rosters
Whether these Orioles are here for the first time or are multiple-time All-Stars, getting to experience the All-Star Game is special either way.
Even as Brach sat among his peers on Monday afternoon, the fact that he was an All-Star had still yet to sink in. He had made this a goal during the offseason, especially with the game in San Diego, where he began his career. The Padres drafted Brach in 2008, and he stayed in the organization until he was designated for assignment by San Diego and eventually traded to Baltimore in November 2013.
"You see where the All-Star Game's at and just kind of think, 'Wow, that would be pretty cool to go back there,'" Brach said. "I knew the way I finished last year, if I continued doing that, not that I thought I'd make the All-Star team, [but] I knew I at least had maybe a consideration."
• All-Star gear
Brach has found a home in Baltimore, where he has settled into his role as a setup man and carries a 0.91 ERA in 40 appearances. He said he was looking forward to picking the brain of fellow AL relievers such as the Yankees' Dellin Betances and the Royals' Kelvin Herrera.
The Orioles have built their own formidable bullpen, with Brach and Britton at the end. Britton made his first All-Star appearance last season
"Last year, I didn't enjoy it as much, because there's a lot of things people want you to go do, and you feel like you're just moving around all the time," Britton said. "You don't get to kind of enjoy it. I think this year I know -- just kind of soak it all in."
Wieters is in his fourth All-Star Game, but first since 2014, which he missed because of Tommy John surgery.
"It's a huge blessing," Wieters said. "I feel so lucky to be able to be back, especially two years ago never knowing how Tommy John surgery is going to go. To be able to get to experience this all again after the surgery, it leaves me speechless."
Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.