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Belliard merits All-Star consideration

Belliard merits All-Star consideration

CLEVELAND -- Ronnie Belliard hasn't had the sizzling first half of hitting that he put together in 2004 when he earned his first trip to the All-Star Game, but his numbers this season are making him a solid choice to represent the Indians again.

In most respects, his overall play has helped Belliard stack up favorably beside more heralded second basemen like Brian Roberts and Alfonso Soriano.

Still, it's hard to dismiss Belliard's play. He's made another strong case for selection to the '05 team.

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Belliard is one of the Indians' leading hitters at .281 with seven homers, an oddity on a team with bigger men like Victor Martinez, Ben Broussard and Travis Hafner. His RBI total of 23 ranks second on the team.

Nobody expects that kind of power production from the energetic infielder, but they do expect him to play defense like some of the top infielders at his position. In that area, the 30-year-old Belliard has done well as ever.

He's been the same fluid fielder who surprised Indians fans with this glove work last season. His play in general has been one of the few bright spots among the everyday players in the Indians lineup, and his play merits an Indians fan's consideration when it comes to selecting the starting lineup for the All-Star Game in Comerica Park on July 12.

"Ronnie's had a lot of big hits for us," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's playing with a lot of energy. He's doing a much better job of sticking with his game plan at the plate."

Belliard's improved approach at the plate has led to his increased production -- and to a better batting average as well.

In balloting sponsored by Ameriquest Mortgage Co., Tribe fans can vote for Belliard, Coco Crisp and the other seven Indians on the ballot at www.MLB.com, as well as at Jacobs Field and Indians Team Shops across Northeast Ohio.

At The Jake and the team shops, All-Star balloting runs through June 28. Fans can continue to vote online until June 30.

Justice B. Hill 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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