ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays didn't know exactly what to expect when they signed Fernando Rodney to a modest free agent contract last winter, hoping after two down seasons with the Angels he could regain past form and contribute to their Kyle Farnsworth-led bullpen.
They knew what they could expect from David Price, their young lefty who is one of the game's most talented pitchers, but weren't sure what the results would be as he dropped from a 19-6 record in 2010 to 12-13 last season while insisting he had pitched better.
But today, they know this much: Both are All-Stars, selected to the American League squad for the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City, Mo.
"Extremely deserving," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Should have absolutely made the team. It would have been a baseball crime had they not."
Both were elected by their peers, though not with much margin: Rodney the third of three relievers voted in (behind Baltimore's Jim Johnson and Cleveland's Chris Perez); Price the last of the five starters (behind Detroit's Justin Verlander, Chicago's Chris Sale, New York's injured CC Sabathia and Los Angeles' Jered Weaver). It is the fifth straight year the Rays have had multiple selections after having one rep in nine of their first 10.
Rodney, 35, was pleased to make his first All-Star team and plans to dedicate the honor to his late father by having his name, Ulise, on his practice jersey: "I'd like him to be here with me." Also, he'll wear his cap to the side, and bring his arrows.
Rodney came to spring training willing to take any role in the bullpen after signing for $1.75 million, with a $2.5 million 2012 option. But with Farnsworth injured just before the opener, Rodney stepped in and stepped up, logging 22 saves (in 23 chances), one shy of the major-league lead, to go with a 2-1 record and stunning 1.01 ERA in 37 games. Last season he was 3-5 with three saves and a 4.50 ERA in just 39 games for the Angels.
"I feel great, I feel happy," he said. "I made the team because (the Rays) gave me the chance to pitch. I didn't have too many chances last year, so I can show I can pitch. This year it happened. I'd like to tell (Angels manager) Mike Scioscia thank you."
Maddon said Rays scouts and executives were confident Rodney would be better this season but acknowledged, "it's a little bit more than we expected, and what he expected also."
Once Rodney, one of the most well-liked players in the clubhouse, got the news, there were plenty of hugs and congrats. "He's been the heart and soul of the bullpen this year," reliever Joel Peralta said.
Price, 26, joined third baseman Evan Longoria as the only Rays to make three straight All-Star teams. Price also joined Sabathia, Verlander and Weaver as the only AL pitchers to make it 2010-12.
"It definitely feels good, especially being nominated by your peers, the opposing players you play against and your teammates," Price said.
He earned their votes with a stellar first half, riding improved fastball command to share the AL lead in wins with an 11-4 record and posting a 2.92 ERA, joining Mets knuckleballer, and potential NL starter, R.A. Dickey as the majors' only pitchers with 11 wins and sub-3.00 ERAs.
Price, too, will share the honor with his family, especially his 8-year-old nephew, Corey, who has pretty much made it a standing request that he expects to go each year. "He already texted me," Price said.
Price started the 2010 All-Star Game but didn't get to pitch last year due to a turf toe injury. Though he left Friday's start with back stiffness, he felt "normal" during a bullpen session Sunday and, assuming no issues Wednesday against the Yankees, is set to pitch in Kansas City, and possibly start again. "It's definitely an honor if you get to," he said.
"I really like him,'' AL manager Ron Washington said. "I hope he's able to pitch this year.''
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.