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Snell fans 3, Ramos welcomed back at ASG

Lefty strikes out Home Run Derby champ; catcher receives boisterous applause in former home park
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Blake Snell's goals at the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard were simple: soak in the moment, learn what you can and show what you've got. After all, almost missing out on the honor as a replacement selection -- a perceived slight that offended fellow Rays All-Star Wilson Ramos -- made Snell not want to take the festivities for granted.

Snell learned a lesson on his first pitch of the night, when he came on in relief to open the third inning. Willson Contreras homered to left on a 97.8-mph fastball from Snell, cutting the American League lead to 2-1.

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WASHINGTON -- Blake Snell's goals at the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard were simple: soak in the moment, learn what you can and show what you've got. After all, almost missing out on the honor as a replacement selection -- a perceived slight that offended fellow Rays All-Star Wilson Ramos -- made Snell not want to take the festivities for granted.

Snell learned a lesson on his first pitch of the night, when he came on in relief to open the third inning. Willson Contreras homered to left on a 97.8-mph fastball from Snell, cutting the American League lead to 2-1.

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But the lefty rebounded to strike out Nolan Arenado, Matt Kemp and T-Mobile Home Run Derby champion Bryce Harper, issuing two walks on 39 pitches in 1 2/3 innings of relief -- the second-longest appearance by a Rays pitcher in the All-Star Game. His AL squad eventually won, 8-6, in the 10th.

"It was great. I had a fun time," Snell said. "I'm happy it's over, I'm happy to go see my family and enjoy the moment."

Said Kemp, who struck out looking on a full-count pitch from Snell in the fourth: "He's one of those young arms that's going to be good for a long time."

Tweet from @RaysBaseball: Our boys. 😍#RaysUp | #AllStarGame pic.twitter.com/5jyLgZ7l3K

A first-time All-Star, Snell cut his teeth on the insanity the week can bring. While he took a more reserved approach -- hanging with his family and fellow teammates on the day of the game -- he also made sure to absorb as much as he could from the talent around him, and the experience has made him hungry to return.

"Honestly, [being here] has just really made me more excited to face the new talent that comes in, and hopefully the game gets better and better," Snell said. "You have to keep pushing yourself to be the best."

Some of the festivities caught him off guard, Snell admitted. But next time he's back -- should his progress in 2018 carry forward -- he knows he'll be ready.

"I didn't really know what I was getting into," he said. "I didn't know what to do. But the next time that I do get selected, I'll be ready."

Joining Snell in the nation's capital as a steady hand already with All-Star experience was Ramos, who was welcomed with the loudest cheers at Nationals Park outside of the three players chosen to represent Washington.

During the pregame announcement of his name over the public address system, Ramos, who played for the Nationals for seven years beginning in rookie season, placed his two hands at the top of his head to form horns -- his signature move and a nod to his nickname "The Buffalo" -- to an overwhelming uproar from the home crowd.

Video: 2018 ASG: Ramos introduced to cheers in D.C.

"I enjoyed that very much," Ramos said, of local support during the red-carpet showcase that kicked off the day's festivities. "A lot of fans recognized me, and made me feel great. I enjoyed that moment a lot. My family was happy, and if I have my family happy, I will be happy too.

"I want to enjoy every moment, every minute here."

It was Ramos' second All-Star selection, but he did not appear in the game because of a hamstring injury he sustained over the weekend. Ramos confirmed Tuesday that he will go on the disabled list to start the second half of the season.

"I don't know [how long] exactly," he said. "I know I will go on the disabled list, but I will wait until I get back to Tropicana Field and get it checked by the doctor. But I am feeling better right now. That's a good point."

But Ramos -- who's indicated he'd welcome a return to Washington via trade should it occur -- has made the most of his time back in his one-time home. His family made sure to pay a visit to their favorite dinner spot, Fogo de Chao.

"That's their favorite restaurant here," he said with a smile. "We have a lot of friends working in that place. And they received my family with hugs, and that's very happy for me, for my family. I have good memories here in D.C., and every time I come here, I enjoy it really well."

Zach Silver is a reporter for MLB.com

Tampa Bay Rays, Blake Snell