MLB.com Columnist

Mark Feinsand

Sale, Kimbrel, Betts set for All-Star Game

Sale, Kimbrel, Betts set for All-Star Game

MIAMI -- For Craig Kimbrel, the All-Star experience has become a part of his annual routine. Mookie Betts is hoping to feel that way someday.

The pair are two of the three players representing the Red Sox in Miami, joining American League starting pitcher Chris Sale for the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard (7:30 ET tonight on FOX).

With six All-Star selections before the age of 30, Kimbrel could ultimately challenge Mariano Rivera's record of 13 All-Star Games as a reliever. But Kimbrel isn't thinking beyond 2017 as he tries to help the Red Sox get back to the postseason.

"That's not even a thought," Kimbrel said. "I'm just thinking about season by season, thinking about this year and seeing where it takes me. Everybody wants to plan where their life goes, but you have to worry about right now. That's all I can do."

While Kimbrel is an All-Star for the sixth time in his first seven seasons, Betts is making his second career All-Star appearance, having been selected for the first time a year ago in San Diego.

Kimbrel, Sale on ASG selections

Betts isn't thinking much about the future, either, though he admits that the idea of making the All-Star Game a part of his annual routine is intriguing to him.

"You hope," Betts said when asked if he thought there would be more All-Star Games in his future. "I just want to go out and enjoy it, play the best that I can. Hopefully if there's more, there's more. I'm just going to enjoy No. 2 right now."

Betts was voted in as a starter for the AL last year, and although he finished seventh among outfielders in this year's fan vote, he'll be the league's starting center fielder tonight, getting the nod in place of the injured Mike Trout -- the player that beat him out in last year's AL Most Valuable Player Award vote.

Last year's All-Star experience was a bit of a whirlwind for Betts, but the 24-year-old has felt much more at home during this year's event.

"I've been able to kind of slow everything down and enjoy it so far," Betts said. "Last year, it just seemed like everything happened so fast. I didn't know what to do, where to be, all those type of things. I'm not saying I'm a veteran now, but being that I've done it once, I kind of know what to expect."

This year's selection is particularly meaningful to Kimbrel, who was forced to miss the festivities in San Diego last year after undergoing surgery on his right knee.

"I didn't feel like I had the best of years last year," Kimbrel said. "Getting off to a good start so far this year, it feels pretty good."

Pretty good is an understatement. Kimbrel is at the top of his game this season, pitching perhaps even better than in his years of dominance with the Braves; he has nearly twice as many strikeouts (68) as innings pitched (37 2/3) while issuing just five walks.

Betts, who went 1-for-2 with a run scored in the AL's 4-2 win last year, would love to see Kimbrel save it for Sale -- something he's seen happen five times during the first half.

"Being with them night in and night out is definitely a blessing," Betts said. "To see them go about their business, it's crazy. Sale is laughing and joking as he's punching out 10 and 12 every day; Kimbrel gets ready and shuts down the ninth. It's really cool to see."

Tonight at 7:30 ET, tune in to the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 88th All-Star Game, in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.