First came the celebration. Then came the stress.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle gave Mark Melancon a phone call Saturday to let him know he had been selected to the National League All-Star team. Melancon will serve as a replacement for Jeff Locke, who is inactive due to a lower-back injury.
The short notice left Melancon scrambling to get a group of 14 friends and family members to Citi Field Tuesday in New York. Melancon joked that he had been working travel site Kayak.com to help book fares for family from Denver and Omaha, Neb.
He didn't have enough time to find himself a flight and will instead drive to New York.
"If we could've had a West Coast All-Star Game it would've been a little better," Melancon said laughing. "I tried to get my personal Kayak.com lady and have her go to work."
This is the first All-Star selection for Melancon, 28, and for good reason. He is 2-1 this season with an NL-best ERA of 0.81.
But even with a league-leading ERA, Melancon's successes weren't enough to originally solicit an unlikely All-Star invite for a setup man.
"A lot of guys are well deserving of it, but they don't have that 'S' behind their name," Melancon said of setup men not being awarded saves. "It doesn't seem to pack that punch."
Melancon joins Locke, Jason Grilli, Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen in representing the Pirates in New York. The five All-Stars are the most the club has had since 1972, when Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Steve Blass, Al Oliver and Manny Sanguillen played in Atlanta.
"It's great to see Mark go," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "He's pitched extraordinarily well. The eighth inning has almost been automatic."
First Published July 14, 2013 5:30 PM