But for Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, this was mostly educational -- and he made a bit of history along the way.
"Every experience is exactly what you make of it," said Mike Quade, Castro's manager who was serving on the coaching staff of Tuesday's winning National League team. "I watched him the entire time we were here, watched him interact with the greatest players on the planet, and I thought he handled himself really well. It's one thing to have the kind of talent he does, but when you go about your business the way he's going about it, there's a chance he's really going to be something special."
Leading up to the 82nd All-Star Game at Chase Field -- one that finished with a 5-1 NL win and saw the Brewers' Prince Fielder notch Most Valuable Player honors -- Castro was able to pick the brains of some of his Latin-American counterparts; guys like Carlos Beltran, Placido Polanco and one of his idols, Jose Reyes.
On the field, he learned, too.
Castro entered as a pinch-runner for Troy Tulowitzki in the fifth inning and promptly stole second base and then third, on a wild pitch, becoming the fifth player to swipe two bags in an All-Star Game, which ties an All-Star record. He then was thrown out going home on a slow roller to the right side of pitcher Jordan Walden.
Quade acknowledged that was a mistake on Castro's part, but added that only "a top-tier baserunner" would successfully make a read like that.
In the ninth inning, Castro fielded a routine grounder with one out but threw it in the dirt for an error that led to a more adventurous final frame than necessary.
Quade knows one thing: His 21-year-old shortstop wasn't nervous.
"He never does [get nervous]; it's amazing -- whether we're in the ninth inning at home and there's 40,000 [fans], or here in the All-Star Game," Quade said. "I mean, he just plays. He's a very level-headed kid. He gets irritated after a bad at-bat, and then quietly dispenses that and goes about his business. I think he's going to be as good as his talent."
|Starlin Castro tied the record for stolen bases in an All-Star Game, becoming the fifth player to swipe two bases.|
Castro, who struck out in his lone at-bat, was the Cubs' only player representative since third baseman Aramis Ramirez declined an invite. But he wasn't alone in Arizona.
His family moved in with him in Chicago about a month ago, and he was able to fly them in, along with his two siblings, to join him in the most memorable experience of his young career thus far.
More like these are expected.
"It's been a great experience; very incredible," Castro said in Spanish. "The fact I could be here and bring my family over was special. I feel very happy to have had the opportunity to be here."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.