Rays looking for an All-Star boost

Rays looking for an All-Star boost

ST. PETERSBURG -- Time is running out for Devil Rays players to establish themselves as legitimate contenders to be chosen for the 2005 American League All-Star team.

Carl Crawford, Jorge Cantu and Danys Baez appear to be the leaders in the clubhouse.

Crawford leads the team in RBIs and steals, and he is emerging as one of the top fielding outfielders in the Major Leagues. Cantu has been red-hot the last couple of weeks, and he leads the team in home runs.

Finally, there's Baez, who has pitched during difficult circumstances and found success. Many times during the early part of the season, manager Lou Piniella has been forced to call for Baez in the eighth inning to escape a jam, then stay in the game to pitch the ninth -- no easy task for a closer.

Since no Rays are in contention for the starting lineup, American League manager Terry Francona of Boston will have the final say as to which player is selected for the team.

The 2005 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on the Major League Baseball All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet, which will air live on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 3. The program will feature the announcement of the 17 elected starters, as determined by the fan balloting program, and 45 pitchers and reserves, as determined by the player ballot and the two All-Star team managers -- Francona and Tony La Russa of the Cardinals -- and Major League Baseball.

Immediately following the Major League Baseball All-Star Game Selection Show, fans will have the opportunity to select the final position player for each league's 32-man roster at MLB.com. The Ameriquest 2005 All-Star Final Vote will provide fans the opportunity to cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over a three-day period.

There will be two ways for fans to participate in the 2005 All-Star Final Vote -- online at MLB.com, or from a cell phone. Fans can simply text the word "VOTE" to 69652 (MYMLB) and be instantly registered to receive the Final Vote ballots. Then, for just 99 cents a ballot, they'll have the freedom to cast a vote from wherever they are. Fans can pre-register for the mobile ballot now.

The Ameriquest 2005 All-Star Final Vote will conclude on Wednesday, July 6, at 8 p.m. ET. The two winners will be announced on ESPN and MLB.com shortly thereafter.

Concluding the All-Star balloting process, fans once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet at the 76th All-Star Game via the Ameriquest 2005 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com. The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage on the Internet.

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