One thing became clear the more David Price talked about being selected for tonight's All-Star Game in Kansas City: he was more thrilled for his nephew, Corey, than he was for himself.
"My nephew gets to hang out in the clubhouse with the guys he sees on Sports Center night in and night out. That's the part that I enjoy the most," Price, a three-time all-star, said. "Obviously playing in the game, representing the AL East and the Tampa Bay Rays is a good feeling, as well.
Corey had such a good time hanging with his uncle at the 2011 All-Star Game that he asked Price if they could return this year.
That was made possible by a first-half that saw Price go 11-4 with a 2.82 in his 17 starts while being matched with an All-Star lineup of opposing pitchers that included Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Josh Beckett and R.A. Dickey.
"He's electric from the left-side. There is nothing else you can say. He's pretty dominant. As far as I'm concerned he's one of the best pitchers in the game," teammate James Shields said.
Price is looking more like the 2010 David Price, who won 19 games, started the All-Star Game for the American League and finished second in the AL Cy Young Award voting, because he's breaking away from a pitcher with an above-average fastball and developing into a complete pitcher.
"In the beginning I talked about fastball command and he's gotten much better with that, and then it was the development of other pitches, and he's done that," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Now it's the understanding of when to use his pitches is the next level. When that comes together that's when he's really going to get really as good as he can become."
And how good can that be?
"Not unlike what Sabathia has grown into. Not unlike what Verlander has grown into," Maddon said. "I think he's slowly arriving at that level, maybe quickly, I don't know. Fastball command has everything to do with getting to that level."
Shields said Price's skills plus his work ethic will soon lift his game above most of the pitchers in the major leagues.
"As long as he stays healthy," Shields said, "he can definitely be a hall of fame-type pitcher."