San Diego, California -- The San Diego Padres have reached the All-Star break with a record of 38-51 -- the fourth-worst in the National League. While the Padres haven’t played well as a whole, there are a few bright spots in a down season.
First baseman Wil Myers and starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz both made their first All-Star teams in 2016 and their appearances were hardly a token appearance given to a couple of hometown players.
Myers, 25, is in the midst of a breakout campaign that resulted in being named the starting designated hitter for the National League All-Star team. The 2013 Rookie of the Year is hitting a robust .286/.351/.522, with an already career-high 19 homers and 60 RBI. He is also second in the National League with 60 runs scored. Myers relished his All-Star experience, which included participating in the home run derby.
“It was really cool to be here and experience the All-Star game first-hand. It was an amazing experience and it is one that I will never forget,” said Myers shortly after participating in the Midsummer Classic.
Myers received the loudest ovations after being introduced in the pregame ceremonies and caught the ceremonial first pitch from Padres Hall-of-Famer Randy Jones a day after bowing out in the first round of the home run derby.
“Going into that first at-bat, I was extremely nervous -- definitely more nervous that I have ever been for an at-bat in any game. I was able to calm down in those last two at-bats and finally get a hit in my last at-bat. I would say that I was much more nervous for that at-bat than I was in the home run derby.”
In his third, and what turned out to be his final at-bat, Myers lined a double to the right-centerfield gap that was cut off by the centerfielder. Myers could have stopped at first but was going all the way.
“I really wanted an extra-base hit in an All-Star game, so I just decided to go for it.”
For Drew Pomeranz, the path to the All-Star game wasn’t a certainty like it was for Myers. Pomeranz was not initially selected to the squad after the rosters were announced. It was a situation that led to some anxiety for the 27-year-old lefty.
“I didn’t sleep much leading up the moment where I made the team. I was so anxious -- I just wanted to hear a yes or a no -- just a decision either way. Once I heard I made it, I wanted to make sure I had time to get my family out here, “ said Pomeranz shortly after pitching a scoreless frame in the All-Star Game.
Pomeranz has been a huge surprise, if not a revelation in 2016 for San Diego. The former fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, has already reached a career-high with 102 innings pitched, to go with a 2.47 ERA -- good for 4th in the National League. Pomeranz was acquired by San Diego in an off-season trade with the Oakland A’s. Advanced metrics are also favorable of the former Mississippi Rebel, meaning that Pomeranz’s dominance is no fluke. The lefty credits a new pitch for his new-found success.
“I picked up a cutter a couple of weeks before spring training and it has meant a world of difference. I never had a pitch that could get me out of innings or a pitch that I could get an early out on.”
Despite being an injury replacement, National League manager Terry Collins called on Pomeranz to pitch the bottom of the 4th inning. After receiving a huge ovation, Pomeranz proceeded to pitch a scoreless inning, only allowing a single to Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Like Myers, Pomeranz also had some trepidation leading up to his big moment.
“Someone left the phone off the hook in the dugout so it rang for like half-an-inning, so I just got ready early. I just told everybody I’ll be ready to go when you put me in.”
Both players were quick to salute the ovations bestowed upon then from fans and the overall experience they had playing in their first All-Star game in San Diego.
“It’s been non-stop since 7:40am Monday morning but I am glad I have had the experiences I did. I couldn’t have asked for a better time,” said Myers.