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Rays call Collins' decision courageous, monumental

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KANSAS CITY -- NBA center Jason Collins became the first active male player on a major American sports team to reveal that he's gay, detailing his story in a piece for Sports Illustrated on Monday.

The reaction inside the Rays' clubhouse echoed the sentiments across the baseball world: Collins should be applauded for his courage in telling his story while he's still playing and for breaking a barrier in a sports culture that doesn't always encourage it.

"It does take a lot of courage to do something like that when you're a professional athlete," David Price said.

Sam Fuld, who was a freshman at Stanford when Collins and his brother, Jarron, were seniors, said he did not know either personally.

"Jason and Jarron were seven-foot twins, so they had a big presence on campus," Fuld said. "I think they were pretty well-respected and well-liked, a pretty popular duo on campus."

"I think it's a pretty big deal," Fuld added. "And I think you'll probably see a snowball effect, and within a year, it probably won't be seen as such a big deal. But because he's the first, I consider it pretty monumental."

Evan Longoria said he is indifferent about anybody's sexual orientation, but he didn't like the idea of somebody having anxiety derived from keeping stuff inside.

"I'd much rather a guy who is dealing with those sorts of things either be open about it in the clubhouse or in the media or both," Longoria said. "Because I feel like it's something that probably eats away at people for a long time. I'm happy for him. I'm happy that he had the courage to do it."

Longoria feels like there is a negative misconception about how professional athletes would react to a fellow player coming out.

"Truth of the matter, I wouldn't have a different opinion [of a player], and I don't think anybody else would," Longoria said. "And if that would help that guy become a better person, a better player, be a better human being, whatever he may be, or more comfortable in his own skin, it's something that should be considered by that person and done."

Rays manager Joe Maddon believes that 10 years from now, people will likely look back and wonder why such an announcement as Collins' wasn't made sooner.

"It's just how we work as human beings," Maddon said. "Somebody has to be courageous and take a stand and then, of course, it becomes more accepted mainstream-wise, and then there's no conversation, it's just how we live. I'm very happy that it did occur. I'm a big believer in gay rights. So it's going to work out well."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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