CHICAGO -- The Pirates will send four players to represent the organization and the National League at the 2013 All-Star Game, Major League Baseball announced Saturday night.
Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Jason Grilli and Jeff Locke will play for the NL July 16 at Citi Field in New York. All but McCutchen are first-time All-Stars.
"This is the third year in a row we've had multiple guys go, and it's been a long time since that's happened," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We're not the team that gets the one guy, the token guy."
The previous time the Pirates had four players selected to the game was 1981. A club-record eight Pirates played in the 1960 game.
For Grilli, who leads the NL with 28 saves, it is a meaningful accomplishment in a career that almost ended in 2010 because of a severe right quad injury. As he held on to the envelope that told him he was an All-Star, he struggled to explain what the honor meant.
"I don't think there is any way to describe it," he said. "I've seen so many guys get this envelope here, and I can't even open it yet because I'll lose it. I've just got to take my time and digest everything."
After Hurdle informed players in the clubhouse Saturday before a game against the Chicago Cubs, Grilli found his dad, Steve, on the field and hugged him. Steve was with the team as part of the Pirates' father-son weekend.
"The last time we roomed together was when my leg was disconnected," Grilli said, referring to his time spent rehabilitating in 2010. "We were able to room here and share this memory in Chicago, have a catch at Wrigley."
A former first-round draft pick in 1997 for the San Francisco Giants, Grilli, 36, is a closer this season for the first time in his career. It is the third consecutive season the Pirates closer is an All-Star after Joel Hanrahan represented the team in 2011 and 2012.
The All-Star Game will be a bit of a homecoming for Grilli, who grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., and played collegiately at Seton Hall in nearby South Orange, N.J. It is even more of one for Alvarez, 26, who grew up across the East River from Citi Field in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York.
"It's obviously a huge privilege and an honor to be selected to the All-Star Game," Alvarez said. "The fact that it's at home, it's all the much more sweeter."
A former first-round pick like Grilli, Alvarez also is making his first All-Star appearance. He is tied for second in the NL, and is first among third basemen, with 22 home runs. He also leads NL third basemen with 57 RBIs.
Once a target of fan criticism, Alvarez is flourishing this season -- though he started by hitting .089 in his first 13 games.
"I hadn't had the best of starts, but it didn't really let my feelings about what I know I can do falter or waiver at all," he said.
Locke, 25, might be the Pirates' biggest surprise. He entered the season holding onto the fifth and final spot in the rotation and has the second-best ERA (2.12) in the NL. He is also tied with Francisco Liriano for the team lead in wins with eight.
After losing his first start of the season, Locke has gone undefeated in his past 16 starts, a team record. This is the first All-Star selection for Locke, who had one career win before this season began.
Locke was a bit caught off guard by the announcement.
"Cutch was pretty much a guarantee and Grilli was up there, too, but I didn't really think I was going to get in," he said. "I really didn't, because a lot of it's a popularity contest and guys who've been there before. It's tough to let a new guy in, but I'm honored."
Grilli, Alvarez and McCutchen were voted in by the players. Locke was selected by NL manager Bruce Bochy.
"I don't even know what it means but everyone says it's a good thing," Locke said.
It is the third consecutive All-Star selection for McCutchen, 26, who finished third in MVP voting in 2012. He leads all Pirates position players with a .301 batting average and approaches the break with a lot of momentum after starting the year hitting .247 in April.
Freddy Sanchez was the most recent Pirates player to appear in three All-Star games, and Bobby Bonilla was the previous Pirates player to appear in at least three in a row, representing the team for four consecutive years from 1988-91.
"McCutchen was as excited as any of them," Hurdle said.
First Published July 6, 2013 10:15 PM