HOUSTON -- All-Star voting ends at 10:59 p.m. CT on Thursday, and that's how long Josh Hamilton has to go in trying to maintain his lead for the third and final spot in the American League outfield's starting lineup.
Hamilton has been a starter on the AL team for the past three seasons, but his lead over Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is the tightest race at any position. In the last update, Hamilton has received 3,173,000 votes, and that puts him in third place just ahead Ellsbury with 3,051,675 votes. Jose Bautista (5,263,840) of the Blue Jays and Curtis Granderson (4,582,419) of the Yankees hold the top two spots.
"If I get voted to go, I will go happily and enjoy it and be proud to represent the Rangers," Hamilton said. "If Ellsbury beats me out, congratulations to him and I will go to the beach for a couple of days."
Hamilton is trying to become only the second Rangers player (Ivan Rodriguez) to start four straight All-Star Games. His candidacy this year was hurt when he missed six weeks with a fractured bone in his right arm. But he went into Wednesday's game hitting .297 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs. He had a .354 on-base percentage and a .529 slugging percentage over 42 games.
Manager Ron Washington said he feels Hamilton is deserving of being selected.
"He's the reigning MVP," Washington said. "For the games he has played, he has produced."
If Ellsbury jumps into third place, Hamilton could be voted in by the players as a reserve or be added to the team by Washington as the AL manager.