It's a cool honor to get to represent the Orioles and myself at the All-Star Game. I'm pretty thrilled about it. I didn't think I was going to go, but my mom always said she was praying for me and kept voting for me. I guess all her hard work paid off.

My mom has good instincts about a lot of things. When I was first traded to the Orioles, she said it was the best thing that could happen for my career. She was right about that, too.

To be honest, I wasn't that excited about being traded from Seattle to Baltimore. I liked being with the Mariners on the West Coast. From a baseball standpoint, however, my mom was right -- it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I'm now glad I was given that opportunity. I love it here.

One thing I like about our organization is all the young talent we have. When people say I'm part of the young group that can bring the O's back into contention, it's cool to be part of the conversation. I've only been with the Orioles for a short time, but everything I've heard is positive.

We have a lot of young guys on the team who are getting a chance to see what life is like up here in the Major Leagues. I'm getting that opportunity right now. I think with a little seasoning our team can be great. I don't see why we can't get our feet under us this year and come back next year with a winning season.

We have a lot of young pitching talent and a lot guys with tons of potential. I'm just excited to be part of this new movement. The front office has dedicated a lot of time and effort into reshaping this team into the winning ways of the past.

Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to see a lot of our young pitching talent during Spring Training this year. I always seemed to be on another field when they were pitching, but there was a lot of buzz in the clubhouse about guys like Jake Arrieta or Brian Matusz.

As for our future, you just have to look at what Tampa Bay did. They had a magical year last season. They just played better than almost every team last year. I don't think our team is that far from being able to achieve that. I love our lineup and would put it up against anyone else's.

You never know what can happen in this game, and the Rays proved that last year.

Center fielder Adam Jones, a first-time All-Star at the age of 23, had a .308 average with 12 homers, 47 RBIs and 55 runs scored entering the final weekend of the first half. He's the first Baltimore outfielder to be selected for the game since B.J. Surhoff in 1999.