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Izturis inches up to fourth in balloting

Izturis inches up to fourth in balloting

Amid international dismay at his not being listed among the top five vote-getters in initial All-Star balloting, a flurry of votes has inched Dodgers shortstop Cesar Izturis into the No. 4 slot in the most recent polling results.

With columns in the Los Angeles Times and three Venezuelan media outlets advocating his election, the league leader in multihit games, who has 260,683 votes, now ranks behind only Chicago's Nomar Garciaparra (who's been out since April 20 with an injury), St. Louis' David Eckstein (who's hitting .303 but has committed nine errors) and Atlanta's Rafael Furcal (who's batting .224).

"I don't see how in the [heck] you can keep him off," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said when asked about Izturis' All-Star bid. "You cannot not like David Eckstein, but I guarantee you this, in the latter period of this All-Star Game, with a one-run lead, I've got a pretty good idea who I'd want out there."

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Izturis, who is only 25, won his first Gold Glove last season, and has played highlight-reel defense all year, turning 35 double plays and making countless plays from deep in the hole. Through the first third of the season, he set a pace that would have him finish with 231 hits, 102 runs, 33 doubles, 12 steals and 60 RBIs as a leadoff man. Through Saturday, Izturis was batting .326.

Tracy said he was confident that if voters do not reward Izturis with the starting slot, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa -- who will manage the National League All-Stars July 12 in Detroit -- would name Izturis as a reserve.

If voters tab Izturis, though, the Dodgers could have both members of their keystone combination start the Midsummer Classic. Jeff Kent, who has 506,272 votes, currently leads all NL second basemen in balloting.

Kent, 37, was on pace after 55 games to finish with a .270 average, 32 homers, 38 doubles, 112 runs, 118 RBIs and even six stolen bases. On top of all that, he had committed just three errors in 278 total chances through Saturday, while turning 34 double plays.

Milton Bradley, who has hit .298 with 10 homers and 35 runs scored in 48 games, is ninth (261,545 votes) in fan balloting for the NL outfield, while J.D. Drew, who had batted .270 with 10 homers and 34 runs through Saturday, ranks No. 12 with 195,384 votes.

Still, there is work to be done and weeks of fan balloting yet to come, both at the ballparks and on the Internet at dodgers.com (where 88 percent of ballots are cast).

Tracy's advice to Dodgers fans who want to see Izturis and co. play in Detroit on July 12?

"Get on those computers."

Mark Thoma is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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