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Sandy Alcantara returns to site of first All-Star appearance

The 2022 NL Cy Young Award winner reflects on his first All-Star appearance and what it’s like to be back in Cleveland.

Sandy Alcantara #22 of the Miami Marlins pitches in the eighth inning during the 90th MLB All-Star Game at Progressive Field on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images

CLEVELAND, Ohio—While Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara didn’t get the chance to pitch this weekend due to right biceps tendinitis—pushing his scheduled start back to Wednesday in Atlanta—he was still with the team in Cleveland, the site of the 2019 MLB All-Star Game. Alcantara was the Marlins’ lone All-Star that year, coming into the game with a 3.82 ERA.

Of course, Alcantara has reached new heights since that All-Star appearance. He has made yet another All-Star appearance and won the 2022 NL Cy Young Award unanimously. He topped 200 innings pitched and 200 strikeouts in both 2021 and 2022. He’s also been the NL leader in complete games and shutouts twice (2019, 2022). The flame-throwing right-hander has established himself as one of the planet’s best starters.

Speaking pregame about taking the field for the first time in Cleveland since 2019, the weather was at the forefront of Alcantara’s mind.

“I feel so excited to go outside,” he said. “It’s something different because in 2019, it was a little warm and today, it’s super cold.”

Alcantara was scratched from his scheduled start in part due to the uncomfortable conditions, with most of his starts in April coming in a controlled environment at loanDepot park. It’s supposed to be much warmer in Atlanta on Wednesday, so it should play in his favor to get back out there on the mound.

MLB Red Carpet Show, Presented by Chevrolet Photo by Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Alcantara faced three batters during the bottom of the eighth inning of the 2019 MLB All-Star Game: Gleyber Torres, Whit Merrifield, and José Abreu.

Reflecting on that experience, Alcantara said, “Any time I have the opportunity to go to the mound late in a game, I try to compete, and everything went good. So I’m excited to be back here.”

Alcantara has become known for working deep into his games and keeping his composure. It’s unsurprising to look back at this game and be reminded that he retired Abreu on a double play to end the inning and keep the NL alive in a close contest.

I asked what he would tell that young Sandy Alcantara in 2019 ready to take the bump in front of a sold-out crowd in Cleveland. He laughed and said, “I was having fun. So nothing crazy, but to enjoy the moment, try to compete, and respect the other guys out there.”

90th MLB All-Star Game, presented by Mastercard Photo by Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Alcantara says he still has the cap and jersey from the game framed at his home. Despite not being able to pitch in this series, he was excited to be back and relive the memories from his first All-Star Game. From a young, unknown pitcher on a rebuilding Marlins squad to a consensus top pitcher in baseball and Cy Young Award winner, it’s been an amazing journey for Alcantara. At just 27 years old, his journey is far from over.