All-Star Game finally welcomes Burnett

Oldest participant represents Pirates in righty's first and last Midsummer Classic

All-Star Game finally welcomes Burnett

This is Andrew McCutchen's fifth time taking part in the annual All-Star festivities. It's the second for closer Mark Melancon. It's Gerrit Cole's first, but the Pirates' young ace appears destined for several more.

But for A.J. Burnett, this week's All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile will be his first and his last. In his 17th and final Major League season, the 38-year-old right-hander finally gets to stand among the game's elite players at the Midsummer Classic.

"If there's one guy on our team I wanted to make it, it'd be him. You can tell that we're all happy," McCutchen said Monday in Cincinnati. "We're enjoying the moment with him. It's great to be able to celebrate."

Burnett has said since Spring Training he's going to retire at the end of the season. That's still the plan, he said Monday, even as he sat in a room filled with the National League's best.

This was no charity selection for Burnett, either. He earned the honor. Burnett owns the NL's second-lowest ERA, at 2.11, and he serves as the clubhouse leader for a Pirates team with the league's second-best record.

Burnett has found a home with the Pirates, which is why he returned to Pittsburgh this offseason. The unabashed Batman fan -- seriously, just look at his cleats Tuesday night -- makes that much clear every chance he gets.

"Pittsburgh is my Gotham," Burnett said. "They accept me as that guy. I love it. It's cool."

Not many players get to call their own shot and go out at the top of their game like Burnett, this year's oldest All-Star, appears to be doing.

Burnett pitches into the 8th

"I think that's 100 percent why I chose Pittsburgh," Burnett said. "This is where I've been the happiest. I wanted to make sure that if I'm going to end my career, I'm going to end it the happiest way I can."

You might be wondering, then, why Burnett would choose to call it a career. The answers flanked him during Monday's media availability: 14-year-old A.J. Jr. and 11-year-old Ashton.

After he was officially picked by NL manager Bruce Bochy, Burnett said he was excited to take his sons to this week's events at Great American Ball Park.

Burnett specifically mentioned wanting to sit with his family on the field during the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders and experience that, for the first time, together.

"It's special to see him here," Cole said. "It's more special that I get to be here and experience his joy and bringing his family and his kids, Ashton and A.J. What a tremendous experience. It's fun to be a part of."

Burnett would agree. It was worth the wait.

"Wish I would've done it a long time ago," Burnett said.

During the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile in Cincinnati on Tuesday, 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.

The 86th Midsummer Classic will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (coverage begins 7 p.m. ET), 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.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.