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Wilson proud after All-Star outing

Wilson proud after All-Star outing

NEW YORK -- When Brian Wilson stepped onto the field of Yankee Stadium on Monday afternoon for batting practice, it was the first time he had seen the inside of its walls.

But growing up on the East Coast, Wilson was certainly familiar with the Yankees. Especially being a Red Sox fan.

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He wasn't cheering for any of the Boston players Tuesday night as the seven Red Sox All-Stars sat in the opposing dugout. But Wilson said before the game that if he could face anyone when he was on the mound, he wanted it to be a Yankees batter.

"It's pretty surreal," Wilson said. "It's funny because I watched those guys as I grew up playing the game, and now to have the chance to face some of them is really exciting."

Wilson didn't get to pitch against Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, but he assumed his role during a crucial moment for the National League in its 4-3 loss to the American League.

With his team clinging to a one-run lead, Wilson was tapped to take the mound in the eighth inning to hold on to the advantage. The right-hander retired both batters he faced, recording a flyout against Carlos Quentin and battling through a nine-pitch at-bat to send Carlos Guillen out swinging.

"I thought it was exhilarating," Wilson said. "It didn't matter what inning I pitched, I was going to go out there and try to get three outs or however many outs they needed."

After the second out, Wilson handed the ball to NL manager Clint Hurdle of the Rockies as Mets closer Billy Wagner took over.

"I walked off with my head held high," Wilson said. "It's always awkward; during the season I don't really get taken out in the middle of an inning, but it was a good feeling."

Wilson made the trip to New York with teammate Tim Lincecum, but Wilson represented the Giants alone when he jogged onto the field for the All-Star Game. Lincecum woke up Tuesday morning with flu-like symptoms.

He was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital and diagnosed with the flu and dehydration. Lincecum was released to rest, but was forced to miss his first All-Star Game.

The National League ran through its entire pitching staff during the 15-inning game, though Lincecum's illness left them one man short. Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca said if Lincecum was healthy, he would have thrown the 15th inning instead of Brad Lidge, but that would have been the only change.

"His absence really didn't have a big effect on the game," Apodaca said. "It's just knowing that you have another arm in there and you're not down to your last one. But as far as the outcome, that wasn't the difference."

While Wilson couldn't share the game experience with his fellow San Francisco All-Star, he took in the full experience in New York. He shagged fly balls in the outfield during Monday's batting practice, though he said he didn't have much to worry about since most of the balls were soaring over the wall.

Monday night, Wilson got a front-row seat to witness Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton make history with 28 first-round home runs during the State Farm Home Run Derby. Wilson said watching the performance made him feel more like a fan than Hamilton's All-Star opponent.

"That's one of the most insane displays I've seen in sports," Wilson said. "I don't even know how to describe it. I felt like I paid money to watch that, and it was pretty exciting to watch the ball fly off the bat like that."

And All-Stars from both leagues got the chance to feel like kids again when the largest gathering of Hall of Famers stood on the field prior to Tuesday's game.

But through all the festivities and celebrations, Wilson simply wanted the chance to step onto the mound, and once he was there, he could feel what the All-Star Game was about.

"It's a great experience," he said. "I'm just honored to represent my team and come down here. I got the opportunity to chuck the ball like I wanted to, and I really got to soak it all in."

Samantha Newman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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