Tie rod play usually shows up as left/right play. Ball joints are up/down play. I think I'd take it to an independent mechanic I trust and have him give the front end a good going over to find what the true problem is. Years ago I was on a road trip and stopped to get my tires rotated they claimed I needed new tie rod ends but they'd just been checked about a week prior. I drove that car approximately another 100K miles I never changed the tie rod ends and when I sold the car tires were still wearing evenly. Some jobs such as tie rod ends are so easy and fast some shops use them as an easy dollar.