Yankees manager Joe Girardi returns to the dugout after taking...

Yankees manager Joe Girardi returns to the dugout after taking out pitcher Phil Hughes in the 6th inning against the Seattle Mariners. (June 29, 2010) Credit: John Dunn

Call it the effects of the so-called Year of the Pitcher, because Thursday it was all about the guys on the mound. Or at least it seemed that way as managers Joe Girardi and Charlie Manuel danced around potential starters during an All-Star Game conference call.

Girardi, who will lead the American League for the first time, said Rays lefthander David Price (12-4) is a "strong candidate" to start Tuesday night in Anaheim, Calif. Manuel, however, played his hand a little closer to the vest.

The Rockies' Ubaldo Jiménez, a staggering 14-1, and the Marlins' Josh Johnson, he of the 1.70 ERA, are "top-notch pitchers," Manuel said. "Once I get there, [coaches] Bruce Bochy and Bud Black, we'll sit and talk and organize our team in the best way."

It'll be a big call for the National League, which hasn't won an All-Star Game since 1996. Beginning in 2003, the league that has won the All-Star Game has gotten the home-field advantage in the World Series. Then again, there hasn't been a Game 7 since 2002; there have been three sweeps, two five-game series and two six-game series since then.

"We haven't won for so long," Manuel said. "I think home-field advantage in baseball gives you an advantage . . . The first priority of the game is to go there and win."

Girardi agreed. "In the postseason last year, we went 7-1 at home," he said. "It's our responsibility to win this game."

As for any further predictions, Girardi would only say, "It has a chance to be a low-scoring game. I think it is the year of the pitcher."