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Damon leading a charge at ballot box

Damon leading a charge at ballot box

He is their leadoff man in the lineup, and in many statistical categories. It's hard to imagine where the Red Sox would be this season without the play of center fielder Johnny Damon.

Entering play on June 12, Damon led the Red Sox in runs, hits, triples, stolen bases and on-base percentage. That would be impressive even if not for all the injuries Damon has played through, from getting stitches in his left arm and above his right eye to straining his right rotator cuff.

In the latest results of AL All-Star balloting for outfielders, Damon (875,988 votes) placed fourth behind teammate Manny Ramirez (1,028,207), Ichiro Suzuki (992,250) and Vladimir Guerrero (933,693).

There's no doubt Red Sox manager Terry Francona -- who will manage the American League team -- would like to take Damon with him to Detroit.

"He's a tough kid," said Francona. "He played last year so many times when I didn't think it was fair to ask him a play, and he'd go out and get a bunch of hits and make a play. He's tough."

But the American League outfield starting three is a tough unit to crack. Damon was an All-Star once, in 2002. For Ramirez, it is a yearly thing. A 2005 All-Star spot would mark his ninth appearance at the Midsummer Classic.

Right fielder Trot Nixon, who is having a productive season, has never made the All-Star team. He is eighth (398,944) among outfielders.

Red Sox captain Jason Varitek (909,843 votes), who has been the team's steadiest hitter aside from Damon, continues to lead Ivan Rodriguez (642,860) and Jorge Posada (442,136) at catcher. Varitek was an All-Star in 2003.

David Ortiz, Boston's fearsome slugger, leads at designated hitter with 1,376,625 votes. He is vying for his second consecutive All-Star appearance.

Kevin Millar, who has recently gotten hot after a slow start, is third at first base (435,817 votes), trailing Tino Martinez (615,712) and Mark Teixeira (482,636).

Shortstop Edgar Renteria (516,935 votes), a four-time All-Star in the National League, is third behind Miguel Tejada (1,058,761) and Derek Jeter (754,536).

Sox third baseman Bill Mueller (414,569 votes) is second in balloting at his position, trailing only Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez (1,209,382).

Fans can continue to vote online and at Fenway Park. The Fenway balloting ends on June 27.

Ian Browne 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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