Three Rays among AL best in ASG votes

Three Rays among AL best in ASG votes

ST. PETERSBURG -- The early returns are in for the American League All-Star balloting and three Rays find themselves among the tops at their positions.

Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, and Jason Bartlett are all among the leaders, but each will need the help of Rays fans at the ballot box if they are to be elected as starters for the 2009 game in St. Louis.

Longoria, who was named the AL Rookie of the Year in 2008, was not on last year's ballot. However, he did earn a spot on last year's team after winning the "Final Vote" fan ballot with a record 9 million votes, becoming the youngest Rays position player ever to make the club. Rays fans will now have a chance to vote for Longoria, who appears earmarked to become an AL staple at third base for the coming years.

Not only did Longoria make last year's team, he participated in the Home Run Derby, and went 1-for-4 with a ground-rule RBI double as he entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the DH spot.

Crawford has been an All-Star in the past and is completely healthy this season, which has shown on the basepaths where he leads both leagues in stolen bases.

Bartlett, who was last season's team MVP as voted on by the reporters who cover the team, is off to a hot start and continues to provide quiet leadership for the team.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at and all 30 club sites until July 2 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

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

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 Midsummer Classic via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote at

The All-Star Game 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 will offer extensive online coverage.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.