Pudge among Tigers' ballot reps
Catcher joined by Sheffield, others in running for All-Star Game
DETROIT -- The Tigers already have an All-Star manager this year. The quest to see who will join him begins on Wednesday.
While Jim Leyland will be running the American League squad on the basis of the Tigers' trip to the World Series last fall, he has very little power in determining the roster. He has no say in the lineup, which again will be decided by the fans.
Major League Baseball released this year's ballot on Wednesday, the first day of online balloting. While the Tigers' early offensive struggles don't give them anyone with the momentum of, say, Chris Shelton last year going in April, they'll have no problems with recognizable names coming off their World Series appearance.
Ivan Rodriguez's quest for an even dozen All-Star starts begins here, as does Gary Sheffield's hope to return to the Midsummer Classic. Any chance of Curtis Granderson starting his first, however, will have to be as a write-in candidate.
Rodriguez, a 13-time All-Star and 11-time starter, will try to extend his record among catchers. He took advantage of a late surge in balloting last summer to beat out Boston's Jason Varitek for the starting nod, pushing him past Mike Piazza and Johnny Bench and into record territory. If he can repeat, he'll also become the first Tigers player to make four consecutive All-Star teams since Lou Whitaker made it five straight times from 1983-87.
Sheffield is a nine-time All-Star who made it in three straight seasons with the Braves and Yankees before injuries left him out of last year's Midsummer Classic. But with the game in a National League ballpark and the designated hitter not available, Sheffield's inclusion as an outfielder meant another Tigers player had to be left off.
That bit of tough luck fell on Granderson, one of the better-hitting Tigers on the team over the first two-plus weeks of the season. Though Granderson has battled with strikeouts, he has also shown a quicker bat on his way to productivity atop the batting order.
Others have their hopes, as well. Placido Polanco's torrid start gives him some much-needed momentum in hopes of taking the starting spot at second base. Mark Loretta, last year's surprise AL starter at second, is now with the Astros in the NL, opening up the race.
Magglio Ordonez is on the ballot in hopes of making the team for the second straight year with the Tigers. Carlos Guillen, coming off one of the best seasons of his career, re-enters the AL's crowded ballot at shortstop hoping for his first appearance since 2004.
Outfielder Craig Monroe, third baseman Brandon Inge and first baseman Sean Casey round out the ballot.
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 28, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Voting at Comerica Park begins on Sunday and runs through June 14.
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.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.