Sox leading way for AL in All-Star Game
Five Boston starters top vote-getters at their positions
All-Star break? That term might not apply to many members of the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
Ever since winning the American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians last October, manager Terry Francona and his coaching staff have known that they would be working during the All-Star festivities at Yankee Stadium.
And judging by the first update of the online voting totals, there could be several Boston players making the familiar trip to the Bronx.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia -- last year's American League Rookie of the Year -- hasn't seen anything close to a sophomore jinx as of yet. And he currently leads the balloting at his position, trailed by Robinson Cano (Yankees), Placido Polanco (Tigers), Brian Roberts (Orioles) and Ian Kinsler (Ranger). Pedroia is vying to be an All-Star for the first time.
"It's my second year, and I'm trying to improve over the first year," said Pedroia. "Next year, I want to be better than this season, and the year after that, better than the year before. I don't try to think about having a bad year or letting any of that negative stuff go into my mind. I'm a very positive guy and I expect a lot of good things out of myself."
He has plenty of teammates with similar drive, none more so than Kevin Youkilis. The man known throughout Red Sox Nation as Youuuuuukkkkkkkk is on the All-Star ballot for the first time in his career -- thanks to David Ortiz being listed as a designated hitter this year -- and Youkilis is the early leader at first base. Youkilis has been one of Boston's top hitters during the early portion of the season, as his production numbers are on par with Ortiz and future Hall of Famer Manny Ramirez.
Justin Morneau (Twins), Jason Giambi (Yankees), Carlos Guillen (Tigers) and Carlos Pena (Rays) round out the top five at first base.
The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game, being held at Yankee Stadium in its final season, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD, and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
The Midsummer Classic will be the fourth held at Yankee Stadium and the eighth in New York City. The Yankees previously hosted the All-Star Game in 1939, 1960 and 1977; the Polo Grounds held the game in 1934 and 1942; Ebbets Field was the site in 1949; and Shea Stadium hosted the 1964 tilt.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the Monster 2008 All-Star Game Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until Wednesday, July 2 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Starting rosters will be announced during the 2008 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on Sunday, July 6. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the Monster 2008 All-Star Final Vote at MLB.com.
And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet at the All-Star Game via the Monster 2008 All-Star Game MVP vote at MLB.com.
As for other Boston players who could be going to the All-Star Game, captain Jason Varitek is the current leader behind the plate. Varitek, vying for his third All-Star appearance, has four talented catchers behind him in Ivan Rodriguez (Tigers), Joe Mauer (Twins), Jorge Posada (Yankees) and Victor Martinez (Indians).
Of course, no Sox player is more synonymous with the word All-Star than Ramirez. The left fielder made the team in his first seven years with the Red Sox and currently leads all outfielders. This would be Ramirez's 12th All-Star selection. J.D. Drew (11th) and Coco Crisp (12th) are both in the top 15. Jacoby Ellsbury is not on the ballot. Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners) and Vladimir Guerrero (Angels) are currently on pace to join Ramirez as the American League starting outfielders. Josh Hamilton (Rangers) and Magglio Ordonez (Tigers) are in the top five.
After being listed at first base the last two years, Ortiz is on the ballot at DH this year and unsurprisingly, he is in the lead. The left-handed masher has been an All-Star the last four years. There is plenty of other star power on the ballot at DH. Rounding out the top five are the Yankees' Hideki Matsui, Jim Thome of the White Sox, Detroit's Gary Sheffield and Travis Hafner of the Indians.
Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, who was the Most Valuable Player of last year's World Series, is second behind Alex Rodriguez at the hot corner.
Boston shortstop Julio Lugo is fourth at his position, trailing Derek Jeter (Yankees), Edger Renteria (Tigers) and Michael Young (Rangers).
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.