NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The players representing the Yankees at the All-Star Game have no problem admitting they are like kids in a candy store.
Having been recognized by fans and peers as one of the best in the game at their respective positions, Brett Gardner, Dellin Betances and Mark Teixeira are treating their experience at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati as if it could be their last.
In other words, they are enjoying every second of their time.
“That’s pretty special; some pretty good company,” Gardner told reporters on Monday. “This is my eighth year with the Yankees and I haven’t really come close to making an All-Star team. For the first half that I’ve had and the first half the team has had, I’m excited to be here representing the Yankees and the American League.”
Gardner, who hit .302 with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs during the first half, was named to the game late last week after Kansas City’s Alex Gordon went down with an injury.
“It’ll be cool — you’re talking about the best players in the game,” Gardner said. “My kids are here, so I’m going to have some fun with it and make some great memories.”
Teixeira, who on Tuesday night will be competing in his third All-Star Game, but first since 2009, said the normally reserved Gardner is a lot more excited about being chosen than he’s let on.
“Gardy plays it pretty close to the vest,” Teixeira said. “He’s not a guy that’s going to be overemotional, but I knew how important it was. He’s a guy that has consistently gotten better as his career has gone on, and here he is in his early 30s making his first All-Star Game.”
Now 35 and enjoying a renaissance season following back-to-back years derailed by injuries, Teixeira has been a production machine this season for the first-place Yankees, driving in AL-leading 62 runs, which matches his RBI total from all of last season — in 41 less games.
“Once the health was there, it took April to kind of get settled into the season and realize that the swing is feeling good,” Teixeira said. “I’m hitting the ball out of the ballpark and doing things that I was used to being able to do.”
Making his second appearance, Betances didn’t get to pitch in last year’s Midsummer Classic at Target Field in Minneapolis. He’s hoping he makes a late-inning appearance on Tuesday night.
“It would mean a lot,” Betances said. “I get to represent the best team, the New York Yankees. That’s something that I take pride in. Obviously the game means a lot. Just to get to pitch in front of my family will definitely be something that I’ll look forward to.”
Though Betances has been utterly dominant this season, going 5-2 with a 1.53 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 41 appearances spanning 47 innings, he said he’s simply in awe of all the players that make up the All-Star rosters.
“Anytime you get to come to this event is obviously an honor and a thrill. I’m just excited,” Betances said. “I’ve gotten to meet a lot of players here today and I’m just excited. Especially thinking about a lot of the guys that you face, it’s truly an honor. I’m just hoping that this time I get a chance to pitch in the game.”