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Damon trying to crash All-Star outfield

Typical: Damon trying to crash All-Star outfield

Three years ago, Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon was a last-minute addition to his first All-Star Game, being selected in the inaugural Final Vote ballot, which is chosen by fans at MLB.com.

Damon's second trip to the All-Star Game might come in more conventional fashion, as he is climbing the charts and ranks fourth behind teammate Manny Ramirez, Anaheim's Vladimir Guerrero and Mariners leadoff man Ichiro Suzuki.

Boston's speedy leadoff man is as deserving as any player on the Red Sox to be an All-Star. He has been the catalyst of the offense all season. Entering play on June 18, Damon led the Red Sox in runs, hits, triples and stolen bases.

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Time and again, Damon seems to deliver big hits for the Sox. And the more men there are on base, the better he seems to fare.

"Johnny just has a knack, not just with the bases loaded, but all the time," said Sox manager Terry Francona. "He fouls off tough pitches. He fights and grinds through at-bats. It's hard to defense him."

Francona, who is managing the American League squad in Detroit on July 12, would love to take Damon with him.

"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."

Ramirez has become a perennial All-Star, vying for his eighth consecutive berth and ninth of his career.

Trot Nixon, who rounds out the productive Boston outfield, is also worthy of consideration. He ranks ninth among outfielders.

Red Sox captain Jason Varitek is first at the catching position and could be in line for his second All-Star appearance in three years.

Slugger David Ortiz, who homered in his first All-Star Game last year, is leading by more than 1.3 million votes at designated hitter.

Kevin Millar is third at first base, trailing Tino Martinez of the Yankees the Rangers' Mark Teixeira. Third baseman Bill Mueller, the 2003 American League batting champ, trails only superstar Alex Rodriguez at his position.

Shortstop Edgar Renteria, in his first season with the Red Sox, trails Miguel Tejada and Derek Jeter. Mark Bellhorn also ranks third at second base, topped only by Brian Roberts and Alfonso Soriano.

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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