PHILADELPHIA – Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens was 10 years old and watching on TV from his native Curacao when John Smoltz started the last All-Star game for the Braves in 1996.
Now Jurrjens has a chance to get the nod himself Tuesday in Phoenix in his first ever trip to an All-Star game. An announcement on the starters won’t be made until Monday.
Jurrjens is leading the National League in ERA (1.87) and wins (12). Though he said he would understand if Giants manager Bruce Bochy goes with the more veteran Roy Halladay, who’s leading the league in innings pitched (143 1/3 innings) and complete games (six) and is second in strikeouts (138).
“You could not go wrong with those three guys,” said Jurrjens, referring to Phillies veteran All-Stars Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
Hamels is ineligible to pitch Tuesday because he pitched Sunday for the Phillies, so the choice likely comes down to Jurrjens, Halladay and Lee.
Jurrjens said he grew up watching the All-Star game in Curacao but it got to be an ever bigger deal in that area when his fellow countryman and former Brave Andruw Jones made his first All-Star team as a Brave in 2000. It was the first of five appearances for the former Braves Gold Glove center fielder.
Jurrjens became the second player from Curacao ever to make the All-Star game. On Sunday morning he was still focused on the Phillies series, but he knew that would change when he landed Sunday night in Phoenix.
“I think when I get out there it’s going to hit me,” Jurrjens said.
Hudson set to open second half
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he plans to start Tim Hudson against the Nationals when the Braves return from the All-Star break on Friday.
The rest of the Braves rotation depends on how much Jurrjens pitches Tuesday night in the All-Star game. As it is, Gonzalez plans to pitch Jurrjens on Saturday against the Nationals, followed by Tommy Hanson on Sunday. Derek Lowe would then start Monday against the Rockies and followed by Brandon Beachy.
If Jurrjens pitches multiple innings in the All-Star game, Gonzalez might push him back to Sunday and pitch Hanson on Saturday.