Trio of Rays still have shot at ASG

Trio of Rays still have shot at ASG

ST. PETERSBURG -- Time is running out for fans to vote their favorite Tampa Bay Rays players into this summer's All-Star Game in St. Louis.

Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford and Jason Bartlett all remain in contention at their respective positions to earn starting spots on the American League squad, which will be managed by the Rays' Joe Maddon. But the days are running short for fans to fill out their ballots. The coming homestand will afford Rays fans one last opportunity to vote at Tropicana Field; the final day of voting at Tropicana Field is June 28.

Longoria, who leads all third basemen with 2,488,076 votes, was not on last year's ballot; however, he did earn a spot on the 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 American League 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, fifth among outfielders in the balloting, has been an All-Star in the past and is completely healthy this season, which has shown on the basepaths where he leads Major League Baseball in stolen bases. Currently the longest tenured Ray, Crawford is the team's all-time leader in hits, RBIs, at-bats, runs, stolen bases, triples and games.

Bartlett, who was last season's team MVP as voted on by the reporters who cover the team, is off to a hot start despite spending time on the disable list with a left-ankle sprain. He is second among shortstops, trailing the Yankees' Derek Jeter.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com 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 MLB.com.

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 MLB.com.

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 MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.

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