Burnett relishing long-awaited first All-Star nod

Veteran right-hander headed to Midsummer Classic for 1st time in 17th season

Burnett relishing long-awaited first All-Star nod

PITTSBURGH -- A.J. Burnett was the Pirates' undeniable star of All-Star announcement day -- both during the game, as he set up the Bucs' 2-1 walk-off victory over San Diego on Monday night, and prior to it, when manager Clint Hurdle stood in the middle of the clubhouse and read off the honor roll.

After he heard his name, Burnett was "waiting for, 'Just kidding,' or something."

"But we're really going, so it's cool," the veteran right-hander said.

Burnett's selection to his first All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile as a 38-year-old in his 17th season was loudly applauded by teammates -- literally, when Hurdle made the announcement. As happy as anyone for "Batman" was his so-called "Robin," although Jeff Locke did have one regret.

"I finally don't have anything over him any more," said Locke, an All-Star in 2013. "That was the only thing I'd ever done that he hadn't."

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Burnett, of course, is doing a lot of things he hadn't done before, the most prominent of which could be his refusal to give up home runs. The erstwhile macho-driven fireballer, who from 2009-11 allowed an average of 27 homers in 33 starts, is again on pace to make 33 starts -- and surrender six homers. He has been taken deep once in his last 11 starts, 81 innings and by the last 321 batters he has faced.

Burnett named to first ASG

Yes, Burnett is not going out with a bang.

He is going to Cincinnati for the 86th Midsummer Classic with, among others, Gerrit Cole. Their genuine, mutual happiness for each other should drive a final nail into musings about whether either carries any baggage from Cole, not Burnett, getting the ball for Game 5 of the 2013 National League Division Series against the Cardinals.

"I'm most excited that he got picked for an obviously deserved honor, and that it has worked out this way after he'd not been picked before," said Cole, or, as manager Clint Hurdle on Tuesday portrayed his corral, the young bull.

Burnett pitches into the 8th

"When two-fifths of your rotation ends up in an All-Star Game, that does well for the organization and everybody that played a part in it." Hurdle said. "You've got a young bull and an experienced bull.

"I won't call him old," Hurdle added of Burnett, "'cause I've got to live with him the second half of the season."

Burnett is the third-oldest player, in terms of service time, to be selected to his first All-Star team. Arthur Rhodes was in his 19th season when making his All-Star debut in 2010, and Doyle Alexander was chosen in his 18th season in 1988. Also picked for their first All-Star teams during their 17th seasons were Jamie Moyer (2003) and knuckleballers Tim Wakefield (2009) and Charlie Hough (1986).

Voting is open now at MLB.com to select the final player for each League's 34-man roster via the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each League until 4 p.m. ET on Friday.

During the Midsummer Classic in Cincinnati on Tuesday, July 14, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Chevrolet, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

MLB.TV Premium subscribers will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities, including the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on Monday, July 13. The Derby will feature a new format with brackets and timed rounds and will be broadcast live by ESPN and MLB.com beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

The 86th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (7 p.m. ET air time, 8:15 first pitch), in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.