After the Royals converted him to relief, Aaron Crow’s career immediately took off, as he failed to allow a run until his 14th appearance of the season. (Jamie Squire/GETTY IMAGES)

Aaron Crow’s unlikely, winding path from draft-pick holdout of the Washington Nationals in 2008 to American League all-star in 2011 included a stay in the independent American Association, another trip through the draft in 2009, an awful minor league season in 2010 and a conversion from starter to reliever this spring.

But as he sat behind a table in a hotel ballroom Monday afternoon, answering reporters’ questions on the eve of the All-Star Game, he said he wouldn’t have changed a single leg of his journey.

“I grew up an hour from Kansas City, so I couldn’t be happier when I got drafted by the Royals,” said Crow, a 24-year-old rookie who is 2-2 with a 2.08 ERA in 36 appearances for the Royals this season. “Last year was rough, but I learned a lot from it, and I couldn’t be happier with everything right now.”

Nationals fans will remember Crow as the first-round draft pick (ninth overall) in 2008 whom the team failed to sign before the deadline, losing their rights to him but gaining a compensatory pick in 2009 that they used to draft Drew Storen, currently the Nationals’ closer. The Royals took Crow with the 12th overall pick in 2009, and this time he signed.

After the Royals converted him to relief, Crow’s career immediately took off, as he didn’t allow a run until his 14th appearance of the season. Still, the Royals have not ruled out switching Crow back to starting after the season.

“I had no problem with it at all,” Crow said of the switch to relief. “I knew if it would help me get to the big leagues, I would gladly do it.”

Hamilton’s emotion

When the doors opened to the hotel ballroom that housed the American League all-star team for media availability Monday, a public-relations official standing near Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton warned the media that Hamilton would discuss the tragic event that occurred last week in Arlington, Tex., only briefly at the start of his session. After that, Hamilton would only address baseball questions.

But Hamilton, the reigning AL most valuable player, spoke at length about the incident — in which a fan sitting in the outfield stands with his young son fell over the railing while reaching for a ball Hamilton had tossed to him, and later died – saying, “I’ve thought about it quite a lot.”

“This is life,” said Hamilton, a devout Christian. “There are tragedies and things that happen that you have no control over and you don’t understand. You’ll never understand.”

Hamilton said he planned to start a memorial fund for the family of the man, Shannon Stone, who was buried Monday. He also said he plans to “reach out” to Stone’s widow and son — ideally, he said, in a face-to-face meeting — at a later time after allowing them an appropriate grieving period.

“I’d love,” Hamilton said, “to know what kind of man Mr. Stone was.”