Orioles' five All-Stars settle in for their national close-up

Clubs largest contingent since '97 meets with the media at Citi Field

July 15, 2013|By Dan Connolly | The Baltimore Sun

NEW YORK — Along the far side of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at Citi Field on Monday afternoon, there was a scene that hasn't occurred at the All-Star Game in years: A full-fledged Orioles row.

One wall, five tables and five Orioles players — all answering rapid-fire questions that ranged from deep to dumb in the annual media briefing a day before the midsummer classic.

What does Chris Tillman think about the Biogenesis scandal? Why does Chris Davis believe 61 is more impressive than 73? What animal would Adam Jones be if he could be an animal? What's Manny Machado's favorite music video? What piece of baseball memorabilia does J.J. Hardy really want?

The seriousness of the questions didn't really matter. The fact that the quintet — from right to left, Hardy, Davis, Machado, Jones and Tillman — was actually at the All-Star game together was what was significant for an Orioles team that had become accustomed to sending just one player nearly every year.

"This is just awesome to see," said Tillman, who was added to the American League roster Sunday as a replacement for Justin Verlander, who wouldn't have been available to pitch after starting Sunday. "I am happy for the fans. That's the most important thing, it's for Baltimore. Not Tillman or Jonesy or Davis. This is for the city of Baltimore."

The Orioles haven't had five players at an All-Star Game since 1997. That also was the last time they had three starters. Tillman, Davis and Machado are first-time All-Stars.

"This has been awesome, seeing all the guys this morning, it kind of hit me, 'Wow, you are at an All-Star Game,'" said Machado, the Orioles' 21-year-old third baseman who hasn't been in the majors for a full year. "You've got to just step back and take a breath and just enjoy every moment of it."

Machado said he walked around talking to everyone in the American League clubhouse on Monday afternoon. He said he spoke to Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter for a few minutes and then had a chance to meet New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera for the first time.

"I want to pick everyone's brain," Machado said. "They might find me annoying."

Machado wasn't the only one a little star-struck by the event — and by Rivera. Hardy says at some point, maybe in the Orioles' final series against the Yankees in September, he's going to ask Rivera, who is retiring at the end of the season, for a jersey.

"I think that would be one of the most special jerseys I'd have," Hardy said.

Hardy was asked if he had a specific memorable experience against Rivera in his career.

"No, he gets me out every time," Hardy said. "There's nothing memorable about that."

Some of the queries were a little less about baseball and more about entertainment — or just overall nonsensical lines of questioning.

Machado was asked about his favorite current music video — he said he hasn't had time to watch them.

"I actually started listening to the new Jay-Z [album], so I think that's up there right now," Machado said. "And Kanye [West] is the man. Kanye is up there, too."

Jones was asked if he could be an animal, which animal he would be.

And Jones answered it immediately.

"Lion. I'm a Leo," Jones said. "I like to command respect, I get it and we run the show."

Jones added a little of his unique flavor by placing a World Wrestling Entertainment championship belt in front of him during his talk. He got it from a friend a few weeks ago and said he decided to use it as a prop for the night's Home Run Derby. Jones said ultimately he is going to take it back home with him to Baltimore, but he wanted to present it to Monday's winner.

"I want [Davis] to get it, but he has to hit the most home runs per round to get it. It's just my little token of appreciation. Something cool to have around the clubhouse," Jones said. "We've got ping-pong tables and pool and everything else going on in the clubhouse. So I just sit at my locker and play with my belt."

Davis said he was a little worried about his buddy and the gold, jeweled title belt.

"Somebody's gonna take it, I mean, it's a big, shiny belt," Davis joked. "I'm excited about seeing Jonesy get out there and interact. I know he likes to put on a show."

Davis was by far the most mobbed Oriole during the media scrum — perhaps the most popular of any AL player other than Rivera. He was asked about his nutrition routine and said he eats healthy about 80 percent of the time and not-so-healthy the other 20 percent. Sundays, he said, are often his eat-whatever days.

"Donuts, pancakes. I love breakfast. Chicken fried steak is my favorite meal," he said. "I'm as Southern as it gets."

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