Loaded outfield in line for All-Star push
Dodgers' youngsters Kemp, Ethier join Ramirez on ballot
LOS ANGELES -- One reason the Dodgers made few changes in their everyday lineup over the winter was the anticipated improvement of their young core.
Outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are proving the point, getting off to the kind of fast starts that result in All-Star votes, with the balloting process beginning Wednesday. Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until July 2 at 8:59 p.m. PT.
Starting rosters will be announced during the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on July 5. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint 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 Award presented by Chevrolet at the 80th Midsummer Classic via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote at MLB.com.
The July 14 All-Star Game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.
Balloting at Dodger Stadium begins May 3 and ends June 17.
"I'm really not worried about that right now," said Kemp, who carried a 14-game hitting streak into Wednesday's game against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. "If you play well, good things happen. Of course you want to make that [All-Star] team, but you want to win games.
"That's not something that I'm even worried about. It's still early. The team is playing well, and that's all I'm worried about right now."
Two weeks into the season, Kemp was batting .383 with nine extra-base hits and was second on the club with 14 RBIs. Ethier led the club with four homers and 16 RBIs and already had captured National League Player of the Week honors.
"It's nice [to be on the ballot], but it's too early [to be concerned about the voting]," Ethier said. "I guess it's nice for the fans, because it gives them a long time to look at it. At the same time, I don't think it's an accurate portrayal of a whole season. A lot of people's performances change from the first half to the second half."
Both players are benefiting from run-producing opportunities created by the ability of Orlando Hudson and Manny Ramirez to be on base. Hudson has been leading the team with an average just below .400, while Ramirez leads the Major Leagues in walks, translating into an on-base percentage of nearly .500.
Conceivably, all of the Dodgers' starting outfielders -- Ramirez, Kemp and Ethier -- could be deserving of All-Star status. The last time the Dodgers had an All-Star outfielder was Shawn Green in 2002. The last time they had two in the same season was Brett Butler and Darryl Strawberry in 1991.
What's it going to take to make the All Star team?
"I think it's the size of your paycheck," Ethier said. "The bigger your paycheck, the more likely you are going to be in the game."
And Ethier's chances considering that criterion?
"Not very good," he said, laughing.
Michael Murphy is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.