Longoria has company as All-Star hopeful

Longoria has company as All-Star hopeful

The player inching closer to a return from injury remains the Rays' best chance at being voted onto the American League All-Star team.

Third baseman Evan Longoria's 1,061,901 votes place him third in the competition to start at the hot corner in the Midsummer Classic. Longoria trails Detroit's Miguel Cabrera by about 250,000 votes and Texas' Adrian Beltre by more than 500,000 votes.

Longoria, who also checked in in third place for the initial ballot release last week, could begin a rehab assignment this week. The 26-year-old, recovering from a partially torn left hamstring, hasn't played since April 30. In 23 games, the three-time All-Star is batting .329 with four home runs and 19 RBIs.

No longer is Longoria the only Rays player vying for a starting spot in the All-Star Game. B.J. Upton rose up the ranks this week, placing 13th among AL outfielders. Upton, with 504,914 votes, remains nearly 900,000 tallies behind Texas' Nelson Cruz for the third outfield starting spot. Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton leads all players, with more than 3.8 million votes.

Upton is batting .282 with four homers and 22 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.

The Rays, who hold the AL's best record, could be best represented in the All-Star Game on the AL pitching staff. While Tampa Bay is hitting just .237 as a team, it has several deserving pitching candidates.

David Price has compiled an 8-3 record and a 2.40 ERA through 12 starts. James Shields has amassed seven victories and 81 strikeouts. Closer Fernando Rodney has notched 18 saves while carrying a microscopic 0.94 ERA.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via a mobile device -- using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until June 28 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

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 8 p.m. ET on July 9.

The 2012 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on 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.

And the voting doesn't end there. 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 on 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.

Zack Meisel is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @zackmeisel. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.