The Norman Transcript

National Sports

July 16, 2013

Boys of summer

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

Then there’s Harvey, the New York Mets ace with 29 major league starts to his name. His next one will be Tuesday night on his home mound opposite Detroit Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer.

“For me, he’s the best pitcher in the game,” Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross said this month. “Not even just in the National League. He’s really good. I faced a lot of those guys in the American League last year and I can’t say that I saw anyone better than him.

“His mound presence is as good as you’ll see.”

There are 12 All-Stars this season 24 or younger, seven in the National League. That’s the most since a dozen were selected in 1993, according to STATS — a group that included Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza, Gary Sheffield, Mike Mussina and Juan Gonzalez.

The only player from that bunch under 23 was 21-year-old catcher Ivan Rodriguez. This year, there are four.

That doesn’t include Los Angeles Dodgers sensation Yasiel Puig, left out of the game after six electric weeks in the big leagues at 22. More to come from him, for sure.

“Every guy that you just mentioned plays the game hard, plays it the right way every day. It’s so much fun to be part of that,” Harper said.

“I’m not going to back off the throttle at all. I’m full speed every day.”

In all, 12 players who qualified as rookies last season made the All-Star team this year. So much for sophomore slumps.

“There’s definitely a different breed of ballplayer coming out,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said last weekend. “This seems to be one of those cycles where a lot of young players are flashing quick.”

Although fresh faces are taking over, that doesn’t mean all the old guys are out. Mariano Rivera, Torii Hunter, Carlos Beltran and Bartolo Colon are back at the Midsummer Classic, bringing decades of experience and wisdom.

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