07/04/10 7:21 PM ET
Capps earns first All-Star Game appearance
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
Capps is off to the best start of his career, saving 22 games -- second in the Major Leagues -- with a 3.19 ERA.
"To be able to represent the Washington Nationals and what that stands for -- not only for the city, but to the people in this room and the organization for the way they treated me -- it's an honor for me to do it," Capps said.
Capps' best month came in April, when he finished the month with a big league-best 10 saves, converting each of his save opportunities in 12 games pitched. Capps, 26, posted a 0.68 ERA, struck out 15 batters and held opposing hitters to a .226 batting average in his first month with the Nationals.
After being non-tendered by the Pirates after the 2009 season, some wondered if Capps was healthy after saving 27 games with 5.80 ERA. During the month of April, Capps proved he is 100 percent.
"It has been a lot of fun for me. I had a couple of first halves where I thought I had a chance to make the All-Star team, but it didn't work out," Capps said. "For the way things ended last season and to be able to bounce back and come here with a new beginning -- with this team and group of guys -- it is a little extra special."
Capps received the news about his All-Star selection early Sunday morning at Nationals Park. Pitching coach Steve McCatty told Capps to go into manager Jim Riggleman's office. When someone calls a player into the manager's office, according to Capps, it's usually means bad news.
In the room was McCatty, Riggleman and genral manager Mike Rizzo. During the first few seconds, no one said a word, but Rizzo finally was the one who gave Capps the good news about his selection to the All-Star team.
"I'm very proud of Matt. He's a great addition to the ball club," Riggleman said. "It's one of the issues that Mike addressed over the winter, and we see why he addressed it in that direction. Matt's just a class act and a power-pitching strike-thrower. I'm really happy for him that he made it."
It was Rizzo who signed Capps to one-year, $3.5 million contract with performance bonuses worth $425,000. From Day 1, Rizzo thought getting Capps was a big deal.
"Going into the winter, we knew we had to address the bullpen," Rizzo said. "It was an obvious problem last year, and we thought we attacked that pretty good. We knew we had a few pieces from last year's club, and when we added Sean Burnett to the club via trade last year, we went into the winter with the idea that we needed to get a guy that we could count on at the end of the game. Matt fit our profile.
"He was a guy who has had success in the past, had a track record. I had seen him pitch frequently and really liked his stuff. He is good for us in 2010 and we feel beyond."
It was an emotional moment for Capps, because he was thinking about his father, who passed away unexpectedly in October.
"I wish he could see it. He'll be with me [in spirit]," said Capps trying to fight back tears. "It's an exciting time. It's something that you work your whole life for. To be voted on by your peers [that] you compete against, it makes it all the more special.
"It was almost a little bit of a relief, not knowing what to expect or what I was going in the office for. Truthfully, I didn't know today was the day they decided the All-Star team. I didn't know what to expect."
After receiving the news, Capps called his wife, mother, brother and in-laws. All except maybe his brother will go and watch Capps in Anaheim.
Don't look for Capps to rest on his laurels, saying there is still more than half a season to go.
"I'm paid to do a job here with the Washington Nationals -- first and foremost. That's where I'm at," Capps said.
Fans, having already starters and this week the final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.