ANAHEIM, Calif. — In those sweet, delicious moments before the game begins, it will hit him. Only then will David Price be able to fully appreciate the significance of what he has accomplished.
The way he imagines it, the national anthem will be playing, and his fellow All-Stars will be lining up for introductions, and the colors and the emotions of the evening will swirl in front of him. He will think about the history, about all the great pitchers who have been in his position, about the brief, impressive journey that has brought him to this point.
It is then that David Price, tonight's starting pitcher for the American League All-Stars, will savor a moment just for himself.
Until then, well, this is still pretty cool.
Price, the 24-year-old left-hander of the Rays, was announced the starter by Yankees and AL manager Joe Girardi on Monday. In only his second full season in the majors, Price is 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA. He is tied for the AL lead in victories and leads it in ERA.
"It's awesome," Price said. "Obviously, it's an honor just to be here, but to start is incredible. Sure, I wanted it."
Once he had it, however, he kept it to himself. That, too, says something about Price.
Most players would have run around telling everyone. Not Price, whose teammates didn't even know.
"I sat next to him on the plane ride out here," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "At one point, I asked him, 'Are you starting?' And he nodded yes. Then he said, 'Nah, I'm kidding.' So I really didn't know. When we landed, I asked him again. 'Are you starting?' And he finally told me that he was."
Said leftfielder Carl Crawford: "I asked him every day, and he kept saying he didn't know. He's pretty good at playing hooky."
Longoria and Crawford will join Price in tonight's starting lineup. Longoria will hit sixth. Crawford will hit ninth.
"It doesn't matter to me," Crawford said. "Where else am I going to hit in this lineup? I'm just happy to be in it."
The real news Monday, however, was Price. He found out Sunday from pitching coach Jim Hickey that he was going to start. Price could have found out Saturday, but he forgot Hickey had told him he wanted to talk to him.
"I just didn't tell anyone," Price said. "I was trying to keep it cool."
It is no small thing when a player starts an All-Star Game in the 42nd start of his career. Price will be the youngest All-Star starter since Dwight Gooden in 1988 at age 23.
"My goals are set higher than this," Price said. "I don't want to stop with this. I want this to be the first of several starts."
Price, known as extremely competitive by his teammates, also talked about the importance not only of starting but of pitching well.
"I don't want to go out there and give up a five-spot," Price said. "I want to put up two zeroes. That's my job. This is going to be a great, great experience, but I want to do my job."
For Price, the selection comes in what Girardi suggests will be remembered as "the year of the young pitcher."
"His numbers speak for themselves," Girardi said. "He was tops among the player voting. He's right on schedule. I thought he deserved to pitch.
"We see so many young kids who are pitching at such a high level. We have so many in our division. It doesn't just stop with David Price. You look at (Boston's Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester), (Jeff) Niemann, their whole staff in Tampa, (Toronto's) Ricky Romero. It seemed like 15 years ago, it was the time of young shortstops. … Right now, the influx of young pitchers is incredible."
This year, the list starts with Price. The All-Star Game, too.
Price said he hadn't heard how long he will pitch, although most starters go two innings.
"I'm really excited for him," Longoria said. "No one deserves a starting spot more than him."
So why has Price been so successful?
"He has that 98 mph fastball, for one thing," Crawford said.
Tonight, he points it at the National League.
Awesome, he said.