SEATTLE – When Pablo López was asked about which hitter he most wanted to face during Tuesday's All-Star Game, he had no hesitation in his response: Luis Arraez.

No, it's not because they were traded for each other in January. Not because they were teammates during the World Baseball Classic, either.

The reason, López said, is he wouldn't have to think much during their matchup. Arraez is so difficult to strike out, so he would just pitch to contact and hope he hit it at a fielder.

"Pablo is amazing," said Arraez, laughing when he heard López's response. "If I faced Pablo, I'd just go out there and try to do my thing. He's a nasty pitcher. He's so smart."

López and Arraez didn't have much of a relationship until they played together for Team Venezuela in the WBC this spring. Now, they FaceTime regularly. They chatted at the team hotel Monday morning and connected again after they arrived at the ballpark.

"I faced him in the minor leagues, in low-A, a lot," said Arraez, who hasn't faced López in the majors. "When we faced Minnesota [in April], he pitched, but I was hurt with my finger. I said I don't want to face Pablo because maybe he'd make me feel bad, I don't know."

Arraez smiled when he was asked what he thinks about the offseason trade, now that it's turned into a swap of 2023 All-Stars. López was added to the AL roster on Saturday as a replacement for Toronto's Kevin Gausman, making him a first-time All-Star.

"This is good because both teams, they did a really good job, especially Minnesota with Pablo," Arraez said. "He's the guy you want in the clubhouse. He's an amazing guy."

Arraez, who will start for the National League at second base and bat sixth, is one of the players at the All-Star Game with the biggest spotlight on him. His batting average is .383, last above .400 on June 21, at a time when few hitters bat above .300.

Houston's Dusty Baker, the American League manager, saw Arraez at the team hotel Monday morning and told him he was one of his favorite hitters to watch.

"I told my son to watch him," Baker said. "He's full of energy. He is like the Energizer Bunny."

Cano an All-Star after trade

When the Twins traded four players to Baltimore for All-Star reliever Jorge López at last year's trade deadline, Yennier Cano felt more like a throw-in than the key to the deal.

Almost a year later, Cano has transformed into one of the best relievers in the sport. He entered the All-Star break with a 1.48 ERA in 37 relief appearances for the Orioles, tallying 38 strikeouts and six walks in 42⅔ innings.

"To tell you the truth, I was a little upset last year when they traded me," Cano said through an interpreter.

It was a little bit of a full-circle moment when Cano returned to Target Field last weekend. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning in Baltimore's 3-1, 10-inning victory over the Twins on Friday. He said some trainers and coaches joked with him, "Hey, hop over to our bullpen."

The 29-year-old from Cuba credited mechanical tweaks for his success this year, and the birth of his 4-month-old son, Cristopher.

"It's made a big difference now, being a dad, having a different responsibility, and it changed some of my perspective," Cano said. "Pairing that with all the hard work I've put in during the offseason, I think all those things combined have helped me have this season.

"Honestly, I never thought about making the All-Star Game. My mind-set was just putting together some good seasons at the big-league level, establishing myself."

Rooker surpasses own expectations

Oakland's Brent Rooker, who was drafted at No. 35 overall by the Twins in 2017 and played 65 games with the team from 2020-21, admits he surpassed even his own expectations this season.

Rooker was traded twice — he was sent to the Padres along with Taylor Rogers in exchange for Chris Paddack and Emilio Págan before Opening Day 2022, then was dealt again from San Diego to the Royals last August — and then designated for assignment by Kansas City before he was claimed off waivers by the Athletics last winter.

Rooker was on the A's roster bubble throughout spring training, but he propelled a red-hot April into his first selection to an All-Star team. Already at a career-high in games played in a major league season, Rooker is hitting .246 with 16 homers and 44 RBI.

"This whole experience has been unbelievable," Rooker said. "The past three years, where I've been in my career, this isn't really something I ever thought was possible."