Just thinking about this All-Star experience gives me chills. I've played baseball for a long, long time, and I've worked my tail off. Now, to be in this position for the first time at this stage of my career is very enjoyable. It's a wonderful experience.

When I take that field for the first time, however, I will be very emotional. Of course, because it's a dream come true, but mostly because I wish my little boy could be here, too. He would have loved to have seen me play in the All-Star Game.

But he is going to be right with me in spirit. So you might see a couple of tears come from my eyes while I'm out there.

His initials will be on my hat. I also put his initials -- J.R. -- in the dirt on the side of the mound. I do that every time I pitch.

There's a sense of accomplishment, too. My baseball journey to get here has been a long one. I started with Baltimore in 1991 as a starting pitcher. In 1995 I got moved to the bullpen. I started off in the 'pen as a long reliever before moved to the setup role, a role that I now relish.

I've overcome a major surgery -- Tommy John Surgery in 2007 -- but what gave me hope was that I saw a lot of people come back from that. I knew it would take a long time, but I knew I could come back if I worked hard. So that's what I did. I felt that if I kept working hard I could come back and be even stronger.

It wasn't easy, especially at the beginning. I've been let go, and I've been a non-roster invitee to camp a few times, but since changing to a setup role, my career has really taken off like a rocket. That's why I'm here at the All-Star Game.

A veteran of 19 Major League seasons with seven different teams, left-hander Arthur Rhodes is a first-time All-Star with the Reds at 40. He lost his five-year-old son, Jordan, in 2008.