Reds outfielder at third Midsummer Classic, while breakout slugger is a first-timer
By Megan Zahneis
Same destination, different perspectives.
That's the story for Reds teammates Adam Duvall and Jay Bruce at this year's All-Star Game presented by MasterCard (today at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX).
Duvall, 27, is making his first Midsummer Classic appearance -- and made his first in Monday's T-Mobile All-Star Home Run Derby -- while fellow outfielder Bruce, only two years older, cracked his third roster. Duvall advanced to the semifinals of the Home Run Derby -- hitting 26 home runs overall -- but was eliminated by former Red Todd Frazier.
Bruce, who hadn't been an All-Star since 2012, wasn't supposed to be here. Despite a first half in which he batted .267/.315/.538, Bruce's name was absent from the All-Star roster until Saturday afternoon, when injuries to Yoenis Cespedes and Dexter Fowler prompted National League manager Terry Collins to name Bruce and the Pirates' Starling Marte as replacements.
The Texas native initially downplayed disappointment at not making the cut and had planned to spend the break at home with his wife and 11-week-old son.
"There could have been worse things," Bruce said. "I've dealt with a lot of things worse than not making the All-Star team in my career. I feel like I deal pretty well with things. I've been around a while now, through a lot of ups and downs. It wasn't the end of the world."
The end of the world it was not, but luckily Bruce had booked hotel rooms in San Diego just in case, and he's all too happy to make use of them.
"Being an All-Star is obviously everyone's goal. Especially when you feel like when you have a legitimate shot based on your play, that makes you more hungry for it," Bruce said. "Being here before makes you even more [eager] -- you wanna get back because you know what it's like. You look around this room, there are a bunch of to-be Hall of Famers and guys who have really impacted the game."
That honor is one Bruce knows won't be lost on Duvall, who is one of the Cinderella stories of this year's roster.
A late bloomer, Duvall didn't make his Major League debut until June 2014 with the Giants. In 2015, he was acquired by the Reds, along with pitching prospect Keury Mella, in a Trade Deadline deal for starter Mike Leake.
That move is turning out pretty well for the Reds, who have gotten a bona fide power hitter in Duvall (whose team-leading 23 dingers -- followed by Bruce's 18 -- lands him in a five-way tie for fourth place league-wide).
Duvall, for his part, is happy to play the underdog, although he'll lose that title if he keeps up his performance from the first half.
"As I started hitting more homers [this season], I started getting more notoriety and publicity," Duvall said. "All that is fine, but I don't wanna take advantage of it or have that be my main purpose. The main purpose is to go out there and play ball and have fun with it."
And though he played baseball growing up, Duvall, a native of Louisville, Ky., didn't attend many games, making the festivities this week especially eye-opening.
With that in mind, old pro and teammate Bruce said he advised Duvall to take it slow this week.
"I told [Duvall] to try his best and slow it down and take it all in," Bruce said. "When I made my first [All-Star Game], that's what Joey [Votto] told me. Because it is a whirlwind. You're going to blink tomorrow and the game is going to be over. If you don't get a chance to take it all in and soak it up, it can be elusive."
That said, Bruce knows his buddy has an extra challenge -- representing the Reds in the Home Run Derby -- on his hands.
"That's an entirely different show he has to put on," Bruce said Monday afternoon. "I'm going to be the hype man for him tonight with the Gatorade and the towel."
Watch the 2016 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 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 87th All-Star Game, in San Diego, 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.
Megan Zahneis is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.