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Youk needs fans' support in Final Vote

Youk needs fans' support in Final Vote

BOSTON -- It is hard to imagine just where the injury-riddled Red Sox would be without Kevin Youkilis, who has been a durable and consistent force on both sides of the ball for the entire first half. But if Youkilis is going to be an All-Star for the third consecutive season, he is going to need a push from his fans.

While Youkilis was not selected as a starter or a reserve during Sunday's All-Star selection, he is one of five American League candidates for the Final Vote.

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All those fans who have displayed their loyalty for Youkilis over the years with shouts of "Youuuuuuuukkkkkk" can now show their support by getting online and voting for Boston's gritty first baseman.

The four players Youkilis will be competing with for a trip to Anaheim?

First baseman Paul Konerko (White Sox), outfielder Nick Swisher (Yankees), outfielder Delmon Young (Twins) and third baseman Michael Young (Rangers).

"It's one of those things where it's out of your control, and it's up to the fans now, and there are four [other] guys who are probably very deserving, too," said Youkilis. "You know, if I make it, it will be an honor and it will be a good thing."

As the season reaches its midway point, the Red Sox have been one of the most impressive teams because of the way they've stayed in the thick of the race despite injuries to several impact players, including Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jason Varitek.

Through it all, Youkilis has stayed in the lineup and been a daily weapon in the cleanup spot. Entering Monday, he is hitting .299 with 17 homers, 54 RBIs and a .416 on-base percentage.

"All of you out there, you guys make sure that my boy Youk comes on this flight [to the All-Star Game on July 13 in Anaheim]," said Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. "You can't play any better than that. When I found out he wasn't going, I was kind of upset. A guy that has put it together like Youk through the years and especially this season, he really deserves to be out there. I know a lot of people will keep that in mind and make sure Youk is an All-Star. He deserves to be in there."

Now in its ninth year, the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show and continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Messaging and data rates may apply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. Standard rates may apply.

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and this week the final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.

The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

The Red Sox have had three Final Vote candidates and the past, and all three won the spot, displaying the passion of their fan base. Johnny Damon was a Final Vote winner in the contest's inaugural season of 2002. Catcher Jason Varitek won the spot in '03. And in '07, it was lefty reliever Hideki Okajima earning a berth to the All-Star Game in his first year in the Majors.

Even if Youkilis doesn't end up making it, the Red Sox learned on Sunday that they have six All-Stars headed to Anaheim. The list includes first-timers Jon Lester, Adrian Beltre and Clay Buchholz and returning stars Ortiz, Pedroia and Martinez.

"There's guys that are deserving and on the All-Star team right now, and like I said, I'm just glad about the guys that are in this room and are on the All-Star team," Youkilis said. "You know, Adrian is very deserving. It's the first time for Clay and Jon, and that's a great thing. For them, it's going to be a lot of fun and they're going to enjoy it. But that was probably one of the greatest things -- seeing Adrian on there. It's exciting stuff."

Now, the Red Sox hope that Youkilis can secure the last spot with the help of his many loyal fans.

Actually, it won't just be fans that vote for Youkilis.

"I've got a lot of free time," said Pedroia, who is still using crutches with a fractured left foot. "I'll be voting like crazy for Youk. Hopefully he gets into that thing. His numbers are ridiculous. You look across the board. First base is a tough position, especially this year. Guys are putting up Nintendo numbers. But hopefully he gets in there. I'll be voting for him."

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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