Tino Martinez continues to do what previously had been thought difficult: Drive New York fans to the All-Star ballot box. The prodigal Yankee continues to lead the voting among American League first basemen for the 76th Annual Midsummer Classic, the latest announced results show. Martinez and the man across the Bombers' infield, third baseman Alex Rodriguez, in fact are the only leaders at their respective positions. But A-Rod has been an All-Star mainstay for a decade.
Martinez's popularity is a little more intriguing. Throughout his 15-year career, he has been an All-Star only twice, and not since 1997. In a balloting update released Monday, he had 473,844. Boston's Kevin Millar was second with 332,888 votes. Although Tino's bat has cooled in June after a torrid May -- he had only two hits in the month's first 12 at-bats -- fans' feelings for him have not. "That's New York -- they love him," manager Joe Torre said. "The thing is, New York doesn't normally vote, from everything we're told. But it's nice to see. That's pretty impressive." But Martinez's lead over Millar of the Red Sox isn't that surprising to those who still recall Martinez's warm Yankee Stadium reception when he made his first first return in 2002 with the St. Louis Cardinals. Warm? How about boiling? In an Interleague game, Martinez homered twice and was accorded the rarest gesture -- a curtain call on the road. "I remember thinking, 'There's something wrong with this picture.' We're trying to beat these guys, and he hits two homers and they're cheering," Torre said. Now they're cheering with their punchouts of ballots. While Rodriguez maintains a 546,608-vote lead over another member of the Red Sox, Bill Mueller, two other Yankees continue to run second at their positions. Derek Jeter remains behind Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada, and DH Jason Giambi is runnerup to Boston's David Ortiz, although far down the track. Outfielders Gary Sheffield (fifth) and Hideki Matsui (sixth) are still in a scrum with fourth-place Johnny Damon behind the trio of incumbent leaders -- Manny Ramirez, Ichiro Suzuki and Vladimir Guerrero. Bernie Williams is 10th. Jorge Posada holds steady at third among catchers, behind Jason Varitek of the Red Sox and 11-time All-Star Ivan Rodriguez of the Tigers. Tony Womack, who has been playing left field, is fourth among second basemen, a race still led by Baltimore's Brian Roberts.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.