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Trio of Cards in line to be All-Stars

Trio of Cardinals in line to be All-Star starters

Just as the Cardinals roll on atop the National League Central, the All-Star campaigns for St. Louis' eight everyday position players are cruising, too.

Three Redbirds -- Albert Pujols (first base), Scott Rolen (third base) and Jim Edmonds (outfield) -- would be starters in the Midsummer Classic if voting ended now, while every other Cardinals regular is at least in the mix.

Yadier Molina ranks fifth among catchers. Larry Walker is sixth among outfielders and Reggie Sanders is 14th. And then there's the double-play combo of David Eckstein and Mark Grudzielanek, both of whom are locked in tight battles for starting spots on July 12 at Detroit's Comerica Park.

Grudzielanek made a move from third to second among keystone men this week, and his strong all-around season makes him an appealing candidate. Grudzielanek is hitting for average, pounding out a slew of doubles and playing exemplary defense. He's batted nearly everywhere in the St. Louis lineup, providing production wherever manager Tony La Russa has put him.

Eckstein is second this week, just as he was second last week, but he's trailing a more formidable opponent. Previously, he was second to injured Cub Nomar Garciaparra, who hasn't played since April. Now it's Dodgers Gold Glover Cesar Izturis, who has taken a step forward offensively to go with his always-slick defense.

Fans can vote now at MLB.com and StLCardinals.com, as well as in Major League ballparks. Online balloting runs through June 30, with the 2005 All-Stars being announced on July 3.

Pujols is a three-time All-Star at three different positions; he'll be going for his first repeat performance at a position this year. Rolen has represented the National League in each of the past three seasons, while Edmonds is a three-time All-Star.

Three Cardinals were starters in 2004 in Houston, with Pujols and Rolen being joined by Edgar Renteria. Rolen was the NL's leading vote-getter in 2004, and Pujols led the league in '03. Walker (five times), Sanders (once) and Grudzielanek (once) have all been All-Stars. Molina and Eckstein have never been selected to the Midsummer Classic.

Matthew Leach 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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