Led by Harper & Trout, a record 5 rookie All-Stars

By Ronald Blum

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, July 10 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

American League's Yu Darvish, of the Texas Rangers, stands during warmups at MLB All-Star baseball batting practice, Monday, July 9, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo.

Charlie Riedel, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ryan Cook thought about the assembled stars and wondered whether he belonged.

"Sometimes I'm like, 'Huh, I don't know,'" Oakland's rookie closer said before adding: "When we get on the field, I think I fit in just fine."

He is among a record five rookie All-Stars picked for Tuesday night's game, joined by Washington outfielder Bryce Harper, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Texas pitcher Yu Darvish and Arizona pitcher Wade Miley.

When Miley arrived for spring training, he wasn't thinking about taking his place among the Jeters and Verlanders.

"I was kind of packed to go to Reno," he said. "I was surprised I made the team and in the same sense thrilled."

Before coming to the U.S. during the offseason, Darvish was a five-time All-Star in Japan's Pacific League. Those All-Star games are nothing like this one.

"They build up this event a lot more here," he said through a translator. "I know how special it is to be selected."

Harper, just 19, and the 20-year-old Trout form baseball's youthful dynamic duo.

Harper is the youngest position player in All-Star history and a key part of the Washington Nationals' emergence as a first-place team. Trout, a year older, is leading the American League in hitting and helping the Los Angeles Angels turn around their season after a sloppy start.

Coincidentally, both came up to the major leagues on April 28, Harper for his debut and Trout for his return following a pair of stints last year.

In a room full of baseball's best, even the veterans are taking notice of Harper and Trout.

"Speed. Power. Excitement. Youth. Energy," Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson said. "If they are able to stay healthy, they can completely transform the game as they get, five, 10, 15 years of big league time."

For now, both will start Tuesday night's game on the bench.

With the result determining home-field advantage in the World Series for the 10th straight year, AL manager Ron Washington will start reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander. The NL's Tony La Russa, the first inactive All-Star manager since the AL's Bob Lemon in 1979, chose San Francisco's Matt Cain — coming off a perfect game last month — over knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets.

Trout was on a flight from Salt Lake City to Cleveland when he saw on Twitter that Harper was being called up the same day. Trout hadn't let many people know he was joining the big league team.

"Knowing he was getting called up that same day was pretty funny," Trout said.

A son of former Minnesota minor league infielder Jeff Trout, Mike was taken by the Angels with the 25th pick in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft. Idolizing Derek Jeter, he played shortstop at Millville Senior High in New Jersey until he was moved to the outfield in his senior year. He understands why he lasted so late in the first round.

"A lot of risk. East Coast kid. Didn't play all year," he said. "You look at the teams in Florida and California, they've got perfect weather all year. They can play all year."

Harper had the greater renown, appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was just 16 with the headline "CHOSEN ONE." With sunglasses hanging from the top of his shirt and a neatly cropped beard, he has the big league look. A hint of acne reveals he's still a teenager.

"So much pressure — no, I'm just kidding," he said, joshing with the media.

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