Start or no, Lester excited about ASG trip

Start or no, Lester excited about ASG trip

CHICAGO -- Left-hander Jon Lester remembers his first All-Star Game, in 2010 as a member of the Red Sox, and how cool it was to meet some of the top players in the game. This year he was named to the National League All-Star team for the first time, and he could start Tuesday's game at Petco Park in San Diego, depending on what the Mets' Terry Collins wants to do.

When the Cubs were in New York last week, Collins, who will manage the NL team, mentioned that he had a few names he was considering for the starting assignment, including Lester and his teammate Jake Arrieta, who was named to the All-Star Game for the first time in his career.

"I really don't care [about starting]," said Lester, who is 9-4 with a 2.67 ERA and will face the Pirates on Saturday. "If they told me to start, I'd obviously be excited. I'm not going to sit up here and make a case for me to start an All-Star Game.

"I'm in a room full of the best players in the world. It's the good old cliche of, 'I'm just happy to be here.' If [Collins] wants me to start, great. I'll be more than excited and thrilled. I think it's just a cool experience to even go and be a part of it. If I don't pitch, great, if I get an inning or a batter, however he wants to use me, I don't care. I'm excited to go and be a part of it."

Lester, 32, who also was named to the American League All-Star teams in 2011 and 2014, cherishes the experience. He recalled being excited to meet Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter at one event.

"I've been fortunate to be in a couple [All-Star Games]," he said. "For me, it never gets old. It's always a crazy time. You don't get a lot of time to sit down and enjoy it until it's over."

Lester will have plenty of company in San Diego, as he and Arrieta are part of the Cubs' seven-player contingent. It'll be the first All-Star Game for Addison Russell, 22, and Dexter Fowler, 30.

"It could be your last All-Star Game, it could be your only All-Star Game," Lester said. "Hopefully, they can relish it and take it all in. I had a chance in '11; I was on the [disabled list] and they asked if I wanted to go, and I said, 'Absolutely, I'm not missing out.' This could be it. I hope those guys are able to really sit back -- especially Addy, he's so young. I hope he's able to take it all in, because it is a fun experience. I'll always remember that first one."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.