Pudge needs help as voting continues

Pudge needs fans' help as voting continues

DETROIT -- Jason Varitek continues to lead Ivan Rodriguez in the American League catcher balloting, putting the Tigers' chances of having a player in the starting lineup for next month's All-Star Game at Comerica Park in serious jeopardy.

Rodriguez (642,860 votes) has started to swing a stronger bat lately, batting .314 (11-for-35) with three doubles and two home runs in June to improve his season average to .288. With Varitek (909,843) batting .323 with 11 home runs and 26 RBIs entering Monday, however, Rodriguez's offense has been overshadowed. His value would have to be seen more behind the plate, where he's thrown out 43.3 percent of would-be basestealers (13 of 30), which is second best in the AL. He also hasn't committed an error in his last 32 games, covering 205 total chances.

The last time Pudge was not an All-Star starting catcher was two years ago, his lone year in the National League with the Florida Marlins. He also lost out to Yankees starter Jorge Posada during an injury-plagued 2002 season. Rodriguez started in nine consecutive All-Star Games before that, tying Johnny Bench's record at the position.

Two other Tigers remain fourth in balloting at their respective positions -- Dmitri Young at designated hitter and Carlos Guillen at shortstop.

All-Star balloting is entering its home stretch. In-stadium voting at Comerica Park ends Wednesday. Online balloting at MLB.com runs through 11:59 p.m. ET on June 30.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.