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Dellin Betances is one excited All-Star

Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances delivers a pitch against

Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth inning of a game at Yankee Stadium on Monday, June 30, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

MINNEAPOLIS - It is his first All-Star Game, and Dellin Betances acts and speaks like the wide-eyed rookie that he is.

But make no mistake. The quiet righthander, one of the sport's dominant relievers in the first half of the season, isn't the least bit shocked to be here.

"I can't say surprised," he said Monday. "I'm excited."

Betances, 26, looked to his left and saw Derek Jeter, the player commanding the most attention, as this will be the shortstop's final All-Star appearance.

Across the way was Toronto slugger Jose Bautista, and beyond that, well -- everywhere Betances looked, there was another All-Star.

He took in his surroundings again. "I still can't believe it. It's all kicking in now," he said.

But . . .

"I can't say I'm surprised because for me, I've always believed in myself and I knew if things came together, I could pitch well at the major-league level," he said. "I'm thrilled to be here and get selected to participate in the All-Star Game, but I can't say surprised."

Betances, selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2006 draft out of Brooklyn's Grand Street Campus High School, had been a failed starter, mostly because of a lack of control.

The Yankees shifted the 6-8, 260-pounder to the bullpen toward the end of last season and Betances flourished. That kind of performance continued during a near-perfect spring training, one that forced the Yankees to include him in their bullpen.

Given a middle-innings role at first, Betances again forced the club's hand. He soon was called upon in the most critical situations -- and dominated.

Betances, with a fastball that has reached 99 mph and a knee-quivering curveball that no one has quite figured out, entered the break 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA, a 0.70 WHIP and 84 strikeouts in 551/3 innings.

"Dellin used to be a starter so this is a new role for him," said Jeter, clearly more eager to talk about Betances' first All-Star Game than his 14th. "I would imagine that takes an adjustment period, but he's settled in and been as dominant as any reliever probably in baseball. He's been as dominant as anyone and he deserves to be here as much as anyone."

Betances -- who has an estimated 10 family members in attendance who made the 20-hour drive from New York -- flew with Jeter in a private plane after Sunday night's game in Baltimore. He practically glowed when talking about his first time here coinciding with Jeter's last.

"I'm just trying to stay as close to him as I can," Betances said. "I'm going to be with him wherever he goes because everyone knows who he is and respects him.

"I'm just honored to be here in [his] last year. That makes it more special for me because that's someone I grew up watching as a kid. To be here in his last year, I'm honored about that.''

New York Sports