Five Rangers in line early for All-Star starts

Five Rangers in line early for All-Star starts

Five Rangers in line early for All-Star starts
OAKLAND -- Josh Hamilton is well on his way to his fifth straight All-Star Game. He is expected to have several teammates go with him.

But they will not be watching him in the Home Run Derby. Hamilton said on Tuesday that he has already told the Commissioner's Office that he will not participate again this year. Hamilton set a record with 28 home runs in the first round of the 2008 Derby in Yankee Stadium.

It is one of the most memorable moments in the history of the Derby even though Justin Morneau ended up winning that year. Hamilton has not participated in the Derby since then.

"It's just not the right time," Hamilton said. "I haven't done it the past couple of years. I want to be healthy and the best I can be. I don't want to risk anything entertaining the fans. So I respectfully declined again. You just take one swing ... you've got to be smart about it."

Hamilton is the leading vote-getter in both leagues, with 2,587,991 votes in the first ballot update in the All-Star voting as he bids to start in the American League outfield for the fifth straight season.

He is not alone among his teammates. Second baseman Ian Kinsler, catcher Mike Napoli and third baseman Adrian Beltre lead the voting at their positions. Nelson Cruz is third among outfielders. Five starters would be a first for the Rangers.

Cruz was selected to the 2009 AL All-Star team as a reserve but did not get to play in the game. He did participate in the Home Run Derby. He was shocked to hear that he was third in the outfield voting behind Hamilton and Curtis Granderson of the Yankees.

"I'm glad people like me and they're really into Nellie," Cruz said. "There are a lot of good outfielders, so I'm glad to hear I have a lot of support from the fans."

Of those five, Napoli is the only one who has never been to an All-Star Game.

"Awesome ... thanks to our fans," Napoli said. "It would mean a lot to me. It would mean a lot to every player to make the All-Star Game. I want my numbers to prove I deserve to be an All-Star. I love the fans giving me such great sport."

The Rangers went into Tuesday's games leading the AL in attendance, which may have something to do with having five players in position to be starters. The Rangers are also two-time defending AL champions.

"If we keep getting 40,000 people in the ballpark, this thing could work," said manager Ron Washington, who will manage the AL team for the second straight year.

"There's no doubt our fans are very supportive and we've played well enough for them to continue to support us," Beltre said.

"The coolest thing is Wash making it two years in a row as manager," Kinsler said. "We'd like for him to be the manager again next year."

Michael Young is second behind the Red Sox's David Ortiz among designated hitters, and Elvis Andrus is second among shortstops behind the Yankees' Derek Jeter. Young has been to seven All-Star Games.

Kinsler has been to two All-Star Games but has never started. Beltre started at third base for the AL last year.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via your mobile device -- using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until Thursday, June 28, at 10:59 p.m. CT.

Fans can also once again participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby. The 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby -- part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day -- will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 9.

The 2012 AL and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 1, on the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show, televised nationally on TBS. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com.

The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on Tuesday, July 10. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.

The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and Sirius XM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com or royals.com/asg.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.