Passing the torch: Matt Harvey relishes first All-Star Game as Mariano Rivera plays his last

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(PIX11) — Mets’ phenom Matt Harvey is living the dream.

The boy who grew up a Yankees fan in Mystic, Conn., is now the Mets’ prodigy, and will be the starting pitcher for Tuesday night’s 84th All-Star Game.

The 24-year-old will become the youngest hurler to hold this honor since former Mets’ great, Doc Gooden, started in the 1988 All-Star Game at the tender age of  23. Harvey says the night will be extra special with his family and friends in attendance: “As a kid, you dream about playing in the All-Star Game … I am thankful for the opportunity and will cherish this for life.”

Harvey brings in impressive numbers with a 7-2 record, a 2.35 ERA and  leads the National League with 147 strikeouts at the halfway mark.  Harvey will become the first pitcher from the host team to start in an All-Star Game since Houston’s Roger Clemens did so back in 2004.

“Starting in the All-Star game is special, but doing so in your home park, Citi Field, makes me more comfortable heading into tonight’s game,” says Harvey.

Harvey will face the big boppers from the American League like Yankees’ second baseman Robinson Cano, yet Harvey isn’t fazed by this daunting task.  He says he’s waited all his life for this moment: “Obviously, these are the best of the best, but I will not change my approach for anything”.

From starter to closer, Yankees’ Mariano Rivera  makes his 13th and final All-Star appearance for the American League.  And what better place to do so than NYC?

“This is NYC, my home, although Citi Field is not my home park, it’s the All-Star and it means a lot.”  Yankees teammate, starting All-Star 2nd baseman Robinson Cano, makes his fifth All-Star appearance and is in awe of the success of Rivera: “He’s one of the best ever to pay the game.  He’s always professional and the perfect player.”

This is one of Mo’s best seasons ever: converting 30 of 32 saves with a 1.83 ERA. But will he be nervous as he takes the mound for the last time as an All-Star?

“I’m going to go into this game to have fun … but I will treat it like my last one.”

Rivera goes into his last All-Star Game unsure about his emotions, but he will do something special to commemorate his last go-around.  What will he do?  We’ll have to wait until Tuesday night.

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