PITTSBURGH – Now, Mitch Keller can think about the All-Star Game.
The Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander said after he beat the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night that he was not thinking about the possibility of being selected to the Midsummer Classic.
Keller can plan his trip to Seattle as he will be the Pirates’ lone player on the National League roster, which will be played June 11 at T-Mobile Park.
Major League Baseball announced the All-Star rosters late Sunday afternoon, but Keller found out prior to the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park. It is the first All-Star selection of his five-year career.
“It’s definitely hard not to,” Keller said of thinking ahead. “But like I said, the moment you start thinking about something like that, for me at least, if I start thinking about other things that are out of my control, it’s not a good outcome that comes with it. Just trying to put it as far back in your mind as you can and go out there and play. Let the hard work and execution take care of itself.”
Usually cool and rather reserved, Keller got emotional when talking to reporters about the honor. He even almost teared up at one point.
“A lot of hard work, a lot of people supporting me along the way,” Keller said. “Family, coaches, teammates, probably a lot of people I’m missing. Just everybody the past couple years. It’s really cool. Really cool moment.”
Keller is 9-3 with a 3.34 ERA in 17 starts this season with 118 strikeouts in 105 innings.
Keller faces the Dodgers on Monday night at Dodger Stadium to start a four-game series as well as a seven-game road trip that leads into the All-Star break.
While many players cherish the four-day All-Star break to get away from the grind of a six-month season, Keller isn’t complaining.
“This is a cool All-Star break,” he said. “I’ll go work. I don’t want a break. That’s cool.”
Pirates manager Derek Shelton, who will be on the NL coaching staff, was hoping some of his other players – particularly closer David Bednar and outfielder/designated hitter Andrew McCutchen – would also be selected but is thrilled for Keller.
“He deserves to be on this team,” Shelton said. “I do think we have some other people that do deserve to be on this team. I think it’s unfortunate that we’re in a situation where we only have one, but Mitch deserves to be on this team.”