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Fuentes fueled by All-Star atmosphere

Fuentes fueled by All-Star Game atmosphere

DETROIT -- Colorado left-handed pitcher Brian Fuentes picked up a baseball and walked in front of the National League dugout, looking for someone to help him warm up before Tuesday night's 76th Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Comerica Park.

But he couldn't find anyone. Even though his teammates were wearing bright orange batting practice jerseys, he couldn't spot one amid all the reporters, camera crews and celebrities.

Was Fuentes nervous? He certainly had reason to be before the game, considering that National League manager Tony La Russa had figured on using him against a key left-handed hitter.

"I really haven't had a chance to get nervous," Fuentes said before the game. "There are so many people around, it doesn't feel like a game yet. I'm sure once I get into the bullpen and start thinking about hitters and looking at when I could pitch, I'll get a little nervous.

"I don't know a lot about [American League All-Star] hitters, but we had a meeting before the game and the catchers know some guys over there, so I'll just go with that."

Alas, Fuentes could sit back and enjoy the trip.

The AL scored steadily early on, robbing Fuentes, 29, of his dream of pitching a dramatic inning to help the NL earn home-field advantage for the World Series. He did not appear in the AL's 7-5 victory.

But at least Fuentes accomplished his goal of getting the heart pumping.

"I got up [to warm up] twice, so it was cool," he said. "I got to feel it, that adrenaline. It kind of reminded me of the first time I heard my phone [ring] before my first big league appearance, that kind of feeling. But it didn't pan out."

So Fuentes' next big innings will come after the Rockies resume the season's second half on Friday night at Cincinnati. Fuentes has 12 saves in 14 chances, including 11 in 12 tries since becoming the full-time closer in May.

All-Star Game 2005

But Fuentes, who brought his wife, Barbara, his father, Dave, and a buddy to share in the festivities, nonetheless had responsibilities to guys that he has to be around for more than one special night.

"I had my responsibilities explained to me," Fuentes said, laughing. "I'm bringing back T-shirts for all the guys on the [Rockies]. I really didn't know what to get. They have caps, T-shirts, all kinds of things.

"But I remember Todd [Helton, who went to the last five All-Star Games] bringing back stuff for us every year, so I know the deal."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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