Jason Schmidt looks on during an All-Star workout at Minute Maid Park. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)
HOUSTON -- "Happy to be here" wouldn't begin to describe how Giants pitcher Jason Schmidt feels about being at the 75th All-Star Game.
Astounded might work. So would amazed. Just being healthy again after offseason surgery -- arthroscopic or not, it's always a gamble -- is a testament to good medicine and a great work ethic.
Anybody asked about Schmidt would have expected him to be out awhile to start the season. Maybe two or three whiles.
"So did I," said the 31-year-old, making his second straight Midsummer Classic appearance. "I didn't expect to be sitting here, I'll tell you that. I didn't expect to have 11 wins. I didn't expect to do much until the second half. I thought I would rehab at first and maybe win some games 15-10. But it worked out for the best."
Indeed. The right-hander, 11-2 this season with a 2.51 ERA and 134 strikeouts -- second and third best in the National League -- has helped San Francisco stay in the West Division hunt by losing his first two games but winning every decision since then.
While Schmidt hopes the Giants can again make the playoffs this season, for now there's work to be done at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night.
Or maybe not.
The rub is Schmidt threw 127 pitches in guiding the Giants to a 9-2 victory over Arizona on Sunday at SBC Park, and San Francisco manager Felipe Alou is concerned his star hurler might hurt his arm even if he pitches one inning at the game.
"We'll see," said Schmidt. "I'll talk to [NL manager] Jack McKeon about it. We want to play it smart. I would love to pitch in it, but honestly I don't know if I will. I don't know if it's the smart thing to do."
Tuesday is Schmidt's day for a bullpen session, to stretch out his arm and keep it loose for next Saturday's starting assignment at Colorado. That must take precedence, and the veteran will play it safe.
But he'd sure love to play, period.
"Most of my bullpens are terrible, and we'll take everything into consideration," said the nine-year veteran, who started last year's All-Star Game in Chicago and pitched two innings.
"I don't know yet. Last year, everybody was having fun and I wasn't sure what to expect. When I got on the mound and the hitter is up, it's game on. There's no exhibition about it."
In the end, it will be up to Schmidt, but even he worries about how he'll feel once the game commences and those competitive juices start flowing.
"It'll be hard," he said. "It's an honor to be there and you want to face the best of the best. That's why you're here. I'd love to pitch no matter what. But we'll see."
There was speculation Schmidt aggravated his tender right elbow during last season's classic, but in reality he'd dealt with the problem for several years before finally hurting himself during a checked swing in August.
Schmidt was thrilled the Giants won their last three games of the first half and four of their last five contests to stay among the NL West leaders.
Jason Schmidt / P
Weight: 205 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Even to be in contention, he said, is good considering the club was in last place and eight games behind in May.
"We're happy going into the break," Schmidt said. "We're right in it, a half-game out. We couldn't have asked for anything better, especially the way we started the season."
Funny thing, but Schmidt wasn't a big believer in "team chemistry" before this season, that elusive mix and match of individual players melding into a whole.
"But I'm starting to believe it," said Schmidt after seeing the disparate pieces come together for San Francisco -- new pitcher Brett Tomko, catcher A.J. Pierzynski, Dustan Mohr, et al.
"Now we seem to have the right mix, with all the new attitudes coming together and the guys figuring each other out. In the second half we hope to kick butt and take control."
Whether Schmidt pitches or not, the one player he won't face this season is teammate Barry Bonds. But he'd like to. The Big Man has rocked the baseball world with his mere presence, much less the 681 homers he's hit.
Schmidt said Bonds intimidates more managers than anything else.
"From what I hear, the opposing pitchers come in pretty irritated they have to intentionally walk Bonds," he said. "As a pitcher, you want to see if you can get him out. There's no satisfaction in walking the guy. You may save the game, but the name of the game is getting guys out. It's tough."
And if Schmidt were ever to pitch to Bonds?
"He's a guy you'd like to face. If he hits a home run, he does."
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. or the relevant Major League Baseball entity: Major League, Major League Baseball, MLB, the silhouetted batter logo, World Series, National League, American League, Division Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, color combinations, and slogans designating the Major League Baseball clubs and entities, and their respective mascots, events and exhibitions.