Trio join established Braves on ballot
Diaz, Johnson, Thorman among All-Star Game contenders
ATLANTA -- Left fielder Matt Diaz is one of three Braves players who find their name on the All-Star ballot for the first time this year.
The ballots were released Wednesday, and fans immediately have the opportunity to vote online or at stadiums for players they believe deserve to play in this year's All-Star Game, which will be staged July 10 at San Francisco's AT&T Park.
In their first year as big-league regulars, Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson and first baseman Scott Thorman also make their debut on the All-Star ballots. Diaz, who is used in a platoon role, was chosen over Ryan Langerhans to serve as Atlanta's third outfield candidate.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the Monster 2007 All-Star Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until Thursday, June 28th at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Last year, catcher Brian McCann, shortstop Edgar Renteria and center fielder Andruw Jones represented the Braves at the Midsummer Classic. Jones and Renteria are each hoping to earn their sixth career selection. McCann, who is arguably the National League's best all-around backstop, certainly has reason to believe he'll be joining the other All-Stars in San Francisco this year.
Fans around the world will again have the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team via the Monster 2007 All-Star Final Vote. The vote will begin immediately following the 2007 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show Presented by Chevrolet, which will be televised by Turner Sports on Sunday, July 1.
Selecting the rosters isn't the end of the fun in 2007, either. Concluding the All-Star balloting process, 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.com 2007 All-Star Game MVP Vote at MLB.com.
The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will have exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.
Two Braves certain to get some voting attention are third baseman Chipper Jones and Jeff Francoeur. Jones is a five-time All-Star who hasn't appeared in a Midsummer Classic since 2001. When he's able to stay healthy, he remains one of the game's top offensive talents.
Francoeur, who has one of the game's strongest arms, is beginning to bring consistency to the offensive facet of his game, which includes plenty of power. He and McCann have been close friends since their childhood and are hoping that this year will be the first in which they get to experience an All-Star Game together.
While Diaz is a longshot to earn an All-Star selection this year, his inclusion on the ballot is justified. He has proven to be a consistent offensive threat who, with continued success, may begin to get significantly more playing time than Langerhans.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.