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Pudge second in AL voting for catchers

Pudge needs fans support in All-Star voting

If the Tigers are going to have an All-Star Game starter on July 12 at Comerica Park, Ivan Rodriguez needs some votes.

After retaking the starting nod last year upon his return to the American League, the Tigers backstop and future Hall of Famer is at risk of losing the AL vote. The first round of balloting results, released Tuesday, shows Boston's Jason Varitek ahead of Pudge in balloting, 425,878 to 365,533.

The last time Pudge was not the an All-Star starting catcher was two years ago, his lone year in the National League with the Florida Marlins. He also lost out to Yankees starter Jorge Posada during an injury-plagued 2002 season. Rodriguez started in nine consecutive All-Star Games before that, tying Johnny Bench's record at the position.

While Rodriguez has been healthy this year and remains one of the Tigers' catalysts, his offensive pace has been down from last season in most categories.

Lost in the offensive numbers, however, is a defensive renaissance that has placed him back among the AL leaders. He has thrown 12 of 25 would-be basestealers while committing a lone error and one passed ball all season.

Two other Tigers rank among the top five at their positions. Dmitri Young and Carlos Guillen stand fourth among AL designated hitters and shortstops, respectively.

A combination of a May swoon offensively and bad weather for much of spring has helped to hurt Detroit's potential for All-Stars. Though Comerica Park began in-stadium balloting first this year as the host stadium, the Tigers have had three weather-related postponements. One was made up on what was originally scheduled as an off-day, the other played as part of a doubleheader.

Fans can cast their ballots online at MLB.com or at ballparks around the Majors. In-stadium balloting at Comerica Park runs through June 15.

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

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