Push sees White Sox gain vote ground
Iguchi approaching Cano; Dye, Podsednik enter outfield picture
The Charge of the White Brigade has extended from the field to the All-Star ballot boxes. As the reigning World Series champion White Sox made a move on reclaiming leadership of their division, their players have rallied on paper and mouse clicks.Oh, there are no new entries to the American League's leaderboard for the 77th Annual All-Star Game, coming to Pittsburgh's PNC Park on July 11. It's not that easy to dislodge several Yankees and Red Sox, who remain in position to claim seven of the eight starting spots. But the latest AL results of fan balloting, released on Tuesday, reveal several White Sox mounting a closing kick. A.J. Pierzynski, a newcomer last week among catching leaders, rallied into fourth, and outfielders Jermaine Dye and Scott Podsednik both jumped two rungs. This late in the game, however, the only one of them realistically still competing for a start is second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, who is 35,000 votes behind Boston's Mark Loretta -- himself 67,000 votes in arrears of leader Robinson Cano of the Yankees. Not to imply that the champs will have meager representation in Pittsburgh. Their manager -- and the AL's All-Star manager, Ozzie Guillen -- will help round out the rosters, fighting to reward many of his horses with berths. While online balloting will continue through 11:59 p.m. ET on June 29, ballpark voting will continue through June 24. If international online voters give Iguchi enough of a closing kick, this Midsummer Classic could mark yet another benchmark in the evolution of baseball as a global game. With Ichiro Suzuki also trying to rally into his sixth consecutive All-Star start, the 2006 AL lineup could be the first to include two Japanese products. A banner week (264,000 votes) injected the Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki within 77,000 votes of the Yankees' Johnny Damon, who holds onto the third and last starting spot in the outfield with a total of 754,396 votes. The Angels' Vladimir Guerrero, continuing as the only crack in the Boston-Bombers stronghold, leads outfielders with 1,115,476 votes, with Boston's Manny Ramirez hot on his trail, a mere 35,000 behind. The only two other players to crack the million-vote barrier comprise the left side of the Yankees' infield. Shortstop Derek Jeter continues to lead all AL players with his haul of 1,121,712 votes, placing him 345,000 ahead of Baltimore's Miguel Tejada. And third baseman Alex Rodriguez (1,067,369 votes) is the runaway leader on the board, pulling nearly 600,000 ahead of runner-up Mike Lowell of the Red Sox. White Sox third baseman Joe Crede retained a tenuous hold on third place at the hot corner; Toronto's Troy Glaus leapfrogged Eric Chavez of the A's into fourth and charged to within 2,325 of Crede. At first base, Boston's David Ortiz (915,362 votes) pulled away to a lead of 289,000 votes over Jason Giambi of the Yankees.
Catcher Jason Varitek appears in greatest jeopardy of being overtaken by an Eastern Bloc outsider. Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez, whose supporters have been relentless in bridging his deficit, stormed within 35,500 votes of the Boston captain.Yet Pudge also has to watch his back: the Yanks' Jorge Posada remains on his tail, a very bridgeable 105,000 votes behind. Pierzynski, who last week trailed Cleveland's Victor Martinez by 160 votes, now leads him by 46,000 for fourth place. For all of this jockeying, the only newcomer on the leaderboard, which includes the top 15 outfielders and the top five at all other positions, is Seattle second baseman Jose Lopez. Lopez moved into fifth place with a new total of 265,692, knocking Baltimore's Brian Roberts off the board. Fans can continue to vote up to 25 times with the Monster.com 2006 All-Star Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites. The All-Star Game rosters will be released at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 2. The announcement will reveal the 16 elected starters, as determined by fan balloting, and 45 pitchers and reserves, as determined by the player ballot, the two All-Star team managers -- Guillen and Phil Garner of the NL champion Houston Astros -- and Major League Baseball. Fans will once again have the opportunity to select the final position player for each league's 32-man roster at MLB.com. The Final Vote will provide fans the opportunity to cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over a three-day period. Fans added Roy Oswalt (NL) and Podsednik (AL) to the rosters with the Final Vote last summer. For the fourth consecutive year, the league that wins the All-Star Game will receive home-field advantage during the World Series. The AL has won back-to-back-to-back Midsummer Classics since that provision was added prior to the 2003 World Series, and eight straight overall.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.