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Despite issues, Tampa Bay Rays' David Price enjoyed All-Star Game

NEW YORK — Even with the "mental train wreck" of an endless itinerary of commitments, the anxiety over accidentally beaning a fan during warmups and the immense pressure that built until he threw the first pitch, LHP David Price swore he actually enjoyed his first All-Star experience.

Well, until he got to Yankee Stadium on Friday afternoon and found himself wearing James Shields' warmup top, Wade Davis' shoes and Reid Brignac's sliding shorts and T-shirt because his own equipment was mistakenly shipped from Anaheim to the Yankees' spring stadium in Tampa rather than New York.

Price, LF Carl Crawford, 3B Evan Longoria and RHP Rafael Soriano rejoined the Rays on Friday better for the experience and ready to resume the season.

"Everybody's fine," manager Joe Maddon said. "They all reported well."

Crawford was still glowing about being introduced as a starter for the first time in his four All-Star appearances.

"It gives you chills; gives you excitement," he said. "You can't really still believe it's really happening when it's going on. You just try to absorb the moment."

Soriano said he had "a great time." Longoria wasn't available.

Price, 24, said he was caught off-guard by the incessant demands on his time, amplified because he was the AL starter.

"It was a mental train wreck," he said. "There was a lot of stuff going on those two days. You didn't really have a lot of free time. I saw my parents once."

The nerves and pressure built while trying to figure out where and when he could warm up during the lengthy pregame ceremonies. Then while doing so on the warning track, he threw a ball that struck a female fan in the neck. "I gave her the ball and a hug," he said.

The nervousness was similar — though not quite as bad — as his 2008 Game 7 AL Championship Series appearance, but he said it went away once he got to the mound and delivered two scoreless innings.

"A big relief, just a big weight lifted off my chest," he said.

So what was the best part?

"Probably after I threw, just to be able to chill, not have to worry about anything in the dugout and talk to the guys," Price said.

Missing man: 2B Sean Rodriguez had to be scratched when complications from Thursday's accidental fire sprinkler flooding of his Redington Beach condo prevented him from getting to New York for the game.

Maddon was unaware of the delay when he posted the original lineup with Rodriguez at second but said he had no problem with him putting family concerns first.

"A lot of internal damage to the pad caused him to really need to stay with his family a bit longer," Maddon said.

Ben Zobrist moved from rightfield to second, and Gabe Kapler started in right, with Maddon joking that fate may know better. It looked good when Kapler made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Nick Swisher in the fifth, but not as good when Kapler went 0-for-4 and his throw to the plate was too late to stop the final run.

Practical application: Amid all the glowing tributes to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, there is a tangible benefit for the players, and that wasn't lost on free-agent-to-be Crawford.

"We definitely appreciate what he's done for baseball with the salaries, especially me in my case," Crawford said. "You can't ask for a better situation, so I'm definitely grateful for that."

Ready to roll: RHP Jeff Niemann won't have any restrictions when he starts today, convinced, and convincing to the coaches, that the back tightness that forced him out of Sunday's game is no longer an issue.

"As far as I know, he's going to be fine," Maddon said.

Miscellany: Shields allowed two more homers, making it an AL-high 21 for the season. … Joaquin Benoit allowed his third run of the season, all on solo homers. … Principal owner Stuart Sternberg and several members of his ownership group were on hand.

Despite issues, Tampa Bay Rays' David Price enjoyed All-Star Game 07/17/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 17, 2010 1:25am]

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