Teixeira, Damon closing All-Star gaps

Teixeira, Damon closing All-Star gaps

With All-Star berths on the line -- and, after this week, with voting only available online -- a couple of races for starting spots in the American League lineup are just beginning to warm up.

Texas first baseman Mark Teixeira is turning up the heat on the Yankees' Tino Martinez, the latest results of balloting reveal.

The young Rangers slugger, who has streaked into the Major League home run lead, has also streaked within 44,708 votes of Martinez. Teixeira, who was a 15-year-old high school freshman when Martinez made his first All-Star appearance in 1995, has steadily rallied since ranking fourth in the first vote standings at the end of May.

Meanwhile, Boston center fielder Johnny Damon ramped up his contention to join teammate Manny Ramirez in the starting outfield. While still running No. 4 behind the leading trio, a strong week boosted Damon's total to 1,116,371, only 81,827 behind third-place Vladimir Guerrero. Ichiro Suzuki continues to run second, 21,312 votes ahead of Guerrero.

The results of these sprints, as well as final confirmation of the rest of the AL starting squad for the 76th All-Star Game, to be played July 12 in Detroit's Comerica Park, will come down to online balloting.

Online votes have a huge voice in the process -- a year ago, a record 10.6 million online ballots represented more than 70 percent of the overall count.

In-park voting has already ended at 10 Major League venues, and polls will progressively continue to close in the coming days of this week, the final one in which fans can puncture paper ballots. Online voting will continue until 11:59 p.m. ET on June 30, four days past the ultimate June 26 shuttering of ballpark booths.

Some of the positions appear to be out of hand, with none a bigger rout than David Ortiz's at DH, where the overall vote leader's total of 1,749,956 tower over runner-up Rafael Palmeiro's 441,449.

And overall-vote runner-up Alex Rodriguez (1,524,514) maintained a lead of more than a million votes over Boston's Bill Mueller at third base.

Meanwhile, Baltimore's double-play combo of shortstop Miguel Tejada and second baseman Brian Roberts continued to stretch out over the Yankees' Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano of the Rangers, respectively.

Tejada, who leads by 445,567, and Roberts, in a tighter battle with a 121,614-vote edge over Soriano, are vying to be the first teammates to start around the keystone for the AL in eight years.

An earlier Baltimore tandem of Cal Ripken Jr. and Roberto Alomar was the starting double-play combination in 1997 in Cleveland's Jacobs Field.

Boston catcher Jason Varitek is on pace to make his first All-Star start, maintaining a lead of 360,482 over Midsummer Classic mainstay Ivan Rodriguez of Detroit.

Varitek would also be joining Red Sox teammates in taking Comerica Field as the festivities get under way. But how many teammates?

That depends on whether Damon can run down the leading trio as well as he runs down fly balls, and whether he can withstand the men charging behind him as well as he withstands collisions with Fenway Park's wall.

Yankees Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui continue to run fifth and sixth. Another Boston outfielder, Trot Nixon, slipped back to No. 9, overtaken by Minnesota's torrid Torii Hunter and Baltimore's Sammy Sosa.

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Results as of June 20:

1st Base
Player NameTeamTotal Votes
1. Martinez, T.Yankees738,865
2. Teixeira, M.Rangers694,157
3. Millar, K.Red Sox525,004
4. Konerko, P.White Sox496,784
5. Sexson, R.Mariners311,645

2nd Base
Player NameTeamTotal Votes
1. Roberts, B.Orioles1,159,241
2. Soriano, A.Rangers1,037,627
3. Bellhorn, M.Red Sox432,985
4. Womack, T.Yankees318,516
5. Iguchi, T.White Sox213,302

Player NameTeamTotal Votes
1. Tejada, M.Orioles1,356,842
2. Jeter, D.Yankees911,275
3. Renteria, E.Red Sox617,893
4. Guillen, C.Tigers236,028
5. Young, M.Rangers206,243

3rd Base
Player NameTeamTotal Votes
1. Rodriguez, A.Yankees1,524,514
2. Mueller, B.Red Sox502,770
3. Mora, M.Orioles425,962
4. Blalock, H.Rangers305,811
5. Beltre, A.Mariners286,465

Player NameTeamTotal Votes
1. Varitek, J.Red Sox1,161,022
2. Rodriguez, I.Tigers800,540
3. Posada, J.Yankees527,741
4. Lopez, J.Orioles361,687
5. Pierzynski, A.J.White Sox229,271

Designated Hitter
Player NameTeamTotal Votes
1. Ortiz, D.Red Sox1,749,956
2. Palmeiro, R.Orioles441,449
3. Giambi, J.Yankees363,978
4. Young, D.Tigers274,214
5. Thomas, F.White Sox229,639

Player NameTeamTotal Votes
1. Ramirez, M.Red Sox1,261,827
2. Suzuki, I.Mariners1,219,510
3. Guerrero, V.Angels1,198,198
4. Damon, J.Red Sox1,116,371
5. Sheffield, G.Yankees852,817
6. Matsui, H.Yankees624,134
7. Hunter, T.Twins535,051
8. Sosa, S.Orioles485,084
9. Nixon, T.Red Sox482,641
10. Podsednik, S.White Sox373,314
11. Williams, B.Yankees347,547
12. Anderson, G.Angels342,267
13. Finley, S.Angels241,882
14. Hidalgo, R.Rangers179,950
15. Dye, J.White Sox173,993

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