KANSAS CITY -- This year's quartet of Yankees All-Stars was blinking through bleary eyes after an early-morning arrival, but all four Bombers were counting on the festivities to make the trip to the heartland well worth their while.
"We got in late, man," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "We got in about 5 o'clock in the morning, so excuse me if I don't know what I'm saying right now. But it's always fun to be here."
The Yankees' representatives had to hustle to Kansas City after wrapping up their first half with a Sunday-night victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park, but for Jeter, Curtis Granderson and CC Sabathia, their most important assigned task for Monday was cheering on a teammate.
Robinson Cano had the heavy workload ahead. He admitted to feeling some fatigue as he prepared to serve as the captain for the American League squad in the State Farm Home Run Derby, as well as defend his 2011 title, won with a long-ball barrage at Chase Field in Phoenix.
"Last year was good. I don't know about this year," Cano said. "It's going to be outdoors. [We'll] see what happens after. I know we had a long day yesterday. I don't want to put negative things in my mind; just get ready for tonight. Hopefully we win it."
He didn't. Indeed, despite having his father, former big leaguer Jose Cano, throwing to him, he was shut out in the Derby. But one of the players he chose to participate, the Tigers' Prince Fielder, was the winner.
It's the 13th All-Star selection for Jeter, the AL's leadoff hitter and starting shortstop. Though he missed last year's contest because he was resting a calf injury, Jeter said attending was very special for him.
"You appreciate when the fans appreciate how you play," Jeter said. "It's fun to be on the field with the best players in the game. It's an honor. Every player, they're lying to you if they tell you otherwise."
Jeter said that he was impressed with how the renovated Kauffman Stadium stacked up as an All-Star venue.
"When I first came up, it was an old AstroTurf park -- 150 degrees on the turf, it wasn't too fun to come here and play because it was challenging," Jeter said. "They've done a great job with the stadium, and the fans always show up when we come out here. I think it's a great place for an All-Star Game."
Jeter joins Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. (1989-96) and Ozzie Smith (1983-92) as the only shortstops named to start at least seven straight Midsummer Classics. Cano said it is a thrill to be able to share the diamond with his double-play partner.
"It's always fun. Being with those guys in the same clubhouse again, you feel like you're home," Cano said. "To be able to spend time with some of the guys and your teammates ... that's something that you're looking forward to."
Granderson, who will hit ninth and play center field for the AL, is making his third All-Star appearance and second successive fan-elected start. He's the first Yankees outfielder to earn back-to-back fan-elected starts since Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield in 1987-88.
"No matter what, you're going to have fun," Granderson said. "Every game I step out there, whether it be an All-Star Game or a regular game, I'm always trying to have as much fun as possible. That's going to be the main thing.
"As long as you're having fun, you're going to have that competitive nature and go out there and try to win -- just like the other guys on the other side are going to be trying to win."
Sabathia is on the disabled list with a groin strain that will keep him from pitching in the game, but he said that he wanted to bring his family to Kansas City, especially since his son, CC Jr., wanted to take advantage of the festivities.
"They're huge fans," Sabathia said. "They just ran around the corner and said, 'I just saw Josh Hamilton! He's over there!' That's fun to be a part of that and to have these guys share it with me."
The 83rd Major League Baseball 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. Pregame ceremonies begin tonight at 7:30 ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.