KANSAS CITY -- There will not be many more difficult first All-Star assignments than those faced by Angels rookies Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo as the NL blistered the AL 8-0 in the 83rd All-Star Game on Tuesday night.
Each entered the game in the sixth inning -- just in time to face Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and his 75 m.p.h. floating butterflies.
Next time they batted, they had to face the 100 m.p.h. heat of Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.
Trout laced a single against Dickey, then drew a walk in the eighth during an at-bat in which Chapman hit 101 m.p.h. three times and 100 once.
"He was pretty nasty," Trout said of Chapman. "Against both pitchers, you have to keep your swing short."
Trout liked facing the knuckleball the best, for one simple reason: He knocked a hit.
Trumbo, who struck out twice, had seen plenty of Chapman on television but had never faced him.
"It's coming in hot," Trumbo said of Chapman's heater. "He's got explosive stuff. I've never seen him up close.
"Going from a knuckleball to that, it's quite challenging."
Trumbo saw six knuckleballs in seven pitches against Dickey, fouling three of them off. Crazy thing was, on a 1 and 2 count, Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz called for a fastball. That caught Dickey off-guard, let alone Trumbo. But Dickey threw the fastball anyway ... and it went for ball two.
"I would have felt really bad if I came to the All-Star Game and struck out somebody with a fastball instead of a knuckleball," Dickey quipped.
Trumbo wasn't expecting the fastball, and he chuckled when Dickey's quote was relayed to him.
"I think all bets are off there," Trumbo said. "Anything's fair at the All-Star Game.
"I just think, against him, you've got to look knuckleball. It's a very effective pitch. That fastball, fortunately, was a ball."
But in the end, it did Trumbo no good. The knuckler still got him.