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Bourn relishes first All-Star experience

Bourn relishes first All-Star experience

ANAHEIM -- Michael Bourn knew a couple of innings early that he would be entering the 81st All-Star Game in the eighth inning.

Still, when you're participating in your first Midsummer Classic there are bound to be plenty of butterflies in your stomach.

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"My nerves were jumping," Bourn said. "I'm never nervous to where I'm scared, but I was anxious. This is the wrong sport to play when you're too anxious."

Bourn went into the game as a defensive replacement for Matt Holliday in left and wound up getting an at-bat in the ninth inning against former teammate Jose Valverde.

Unfortunately for Bourn, Valverde was on top of his game in this one. After taking a fastball for a called strike, Valverde got Bourn to swing and miss on a pair of split-finger fastballs.

Still, despite the strikeout, Bourn got to be part of a National League team that won an All-Star Game for the first time since 1996.

"I wish I would have gotten a hit, but I'm just glad we got the victory," Bourn said. "That's our first win in the last 14 years so hopefully we'll put a streak together like the American League did. The game means something now. The National League has home-field advantage in the World Series and that's a big thing because you've got the first two games at your house."

Even more challenging for Bourn than hitting a Valverde pitch was trying to name his favorite part of his All-Star experience.

"All of it was enjoyable to me," Bourn said. "I enjoyed every bit of it. You're playing with the best of the best."

Bourn was shocked when he saw how many autographs he had to sign pregame.

"I have to sign all these autographs?" he said when he saw the dozens and dozens of baseballs that were placed on tables for each All-Star Game participant to sign.

Bourn was not complaining, mind you.

"It will take a little while to finish it off," he said. "But I'm happy to do it, it's worth it to be here."

Named to his first All-Star Game, Bourn soaked up all he could from the experience from the time he arrived in Anaheim late Sunday night. He was especially happy to be sharing the time with fellow Houston natives Chris Young and Carl Crawford.

Monday, following a morning of meeting the media, Bourn sat on the field and watched the State Farm Home Run Derby.

"It's amazing how far they can hit the ball," Bourn said. "I think the most impressive to me was Miguel Cabrera because he was hitting to center field and opposite and out. I mean, you're supposed to pull the ball, but going oppo and out? That's not easy."

Bourn did not stay for the final round because he wanted to get plenty of rest for Tuesday's game.

"I've been enjoying everything," he said. "I enjoyed the Derby and the festivities. The real cool part of it is getting to be in the dugout to watch the game and take it all in."

Just getting to the All-Star Game is an accomplishment in itself.

"It's not easy to make this game and every time you make it , you appreciate it, you enjoy it and it gives you motivation to work and hopefully get back next year," Bourn said. I'm thankful for the opportunity and I hope to be back here again some time. There's nothing like the first time, though."

Steve Gilbert 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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